Considering India’s great geographical extent from East to West, a single timezone makes neither economic nor social sense. In this context, evaluate the need to have a separate time zone for Northeastern India.
- Introduction should contain brief discussion on IST
- Discuss the merits and demerits of having separate timezone for the NE
- Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
The time zone of India i.e. IST is based on 82.5 Degrees E longitude, which passes through Uttar pradesh. Many believe that the current time zone in India is not representative of the geographical vastness of the country.
Longitude-wise, there’s a difference of 30 degrees between the easternmost and the westernmost points of India – Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh and Gugariyaa in Gujarat respectively. As a result, the sun rises earlier and sets earlier in the northeast compared to the other parts of the country. Due to this, many leaders from the North East India have started demanding a separate time zone for the region.
Separate time zone: Arguments in Favour:
- A separate time zone for the northeast would save working day light-time and save electricity.
- Back in 2006, a planning commission report suggested different time zones in India could improve efficiency.
- Another report by the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Advanced Studies claimed that such a move could save up to 2.7 billion units of electricity.
- In the current arrangement, social lives of people in north eastern region take a hit too. It gets dark too early. People prefer to stay inside their homes rather than go out and socialise. Productive hours at offices, mainly government offices, are usually for only 7 hours. The location of the states in the timezone means that they eat breakfast late in the day, eat dinner earlier than most.
- Separate time zone is not an alien concept for India and the world:
- The British used to follow not one, not two, but three time zones in pre-independent India, owing to its vastness – a Bombay time zone, a Calcutta time zone as well as a ‘Tea Garden Time’ or baagaan time zone (one hour ahead of the current IST).
- Many countries have multiple time zones – The United States – covering 4300-km distance from end-to-end – has four separate time zones. Similarly Russia currently has 11 time zones.
Arguments against the separate time zone in India:
- There will be a lack of coordination between different parts of the densely populated country.
- It will also pose a logistical challenge in running the railways, airlines, airports, financial traders, etc.
- People from northeastern region – due to difference in their customs, languages and many other reasons – feel alienated from rest of the country. Separate time zone for this region may further enhance this difference.
- Workplaces across India will have different hours to work and it will create problems in sending information. Broadcasting of different networks over all of the region would be affected.
- An expert panel constituted by the ministry of science and technology in 2002 rejected the idea of a different time zone.
- The idea of having separate time zone runs counter to the idea of One Nation – One Grid, One Nation –One Tax and One Nation –One Agricultural Market (recent initiatives by GoI to unify the country).
Very little or no research has been done on impact on social and economic lives of a different time zone for the Northeast. It is time that some pilot studies are taken up to study the feasibility of a new time zone in the region. Meanwhile, we can also experiment with daylight saving measures like advancing working hours for government offices, commercial establishments and schools. This will give us data on likely impact of a different time zone for the Northeast.
Subjects : Current Affairs