Time change scheme

The Assam government’s decision to have a separate time zone for the state has much to recommend itself.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has said that the state has decided to set the clocks back by one hour to align the daily lives, habits and working hours of the people better with the sun rise and sun set timings in the state. The proposed time scheme was actually in existence there for over a century in the colonial tea estates and was known as chai bagaan time. Even now it is unofficially followed in tea estates. Gogoi has said that the new time zone would make a big difference to productivity. The Centre has to approve the decision but he is confident that it would agree.

The demand for more time zones in the country has been strong and persistent, especially from the north-eastern states. The Planning Commission and a parliamentary committee had proposed it some years ago but a technical committee did not favour it. Apart from the mismatch of the standard time with the natural day and night cycle, one strong case for different time zones is the saving in energy. A recent study, which did not recommend a separate time zone, however concluded that advancing the Indian Standard Time (IST) by half an hour would lead to a saving of more than 2 billion kWh of electricity every year. There have been other proposals also to solve or minimise the different problems posed by a single time zone. The debate has continued for a long time but it seems the Assam government has now taken the plunge.

Most big countries have different time zones for reasons of convenience and economic imperatives. Even Bangladesh adopted a daylight saving time in 2009 to reduce energy consumption. India also had two time zones, the Bombay time and Calcutta time, till Independence. They were abandoned for the IST on the argument that a single time zone would be in the interest of national unity. But the relation between national unity and time is difficult to explain. There is a time gap of about two hours between the eastern and western ends of the country. There are some who feel that the country could even do with three time zones, so that personal and social lives could be better organised. The economy and administration could be made more efficient too. There is a case for change in the time scheme.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry