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Two Time zones and Daylight Savings for India

It was great to see that the good old topic is back. Apparently Department of Science and Technology is once again studying feasibility of two time-zones for India. Last time it was done in 2001 by same DST and was buried in 2004 after 3 years of chai-samosa meetings. We all hope this time with a determined government in charge, it will see a logical actionable conclusion sooner. 

Having spent half of my life in East India and other half in West India so far, I can appreciate and strongly feel the need for it. Few suggestions as noted below in detail:

1. New IST (UTC+5) and an additional Eastern India Time, EIT (UTC+6)

Unlike USA where the E-W width of the country needing multi-hours apart time zones, India width is smaller compared to US. An 1 hour timezone lag will be good enough for India. East and specially North-East wakes up too early today, but goes to work late and returns from work late. Specially during winter, West struggles to catch-up business hours in the morning. We should have two time-zones. New IST (Indian Standard Time) can be defined as UTC+5, i.e., half-hour before current IST.  Considering the demography, population map and shape of India, this will be default timezone for India covering maximum population and business (see the map and population distribution graph in the picture above and also read this nice article). A new timezone EIT (Eastern India Time) should be created which will be at UTC+6 (i.e., half hour after current IST and one hour after new IST). States having border fully on East side of current IST  (UTC+5:30) will follow EIT. States having  border fully on West side of current IST  (UTC+5:30) will follow only (new) IST. States  having border partially on both side of current IST, will have a choice of IST or EIT which they can decide based on their factors for ease of doing business and population distribution map.

2. "Let there be light" - Daylight Savings (IDT and EID):

Consider how the sun-rise and sun-set time offsets in summer and winter and thus creating huge inconvenience to people. During summer time, at eastern and north-eastern part of the country having further long hours of daylight in the morning which is wasted before they start their business day. Keeping the business hours during day-light hours can save huge electricity and power consumption and people all over the country can have more work-life balance. Hence, it becomes more important to have a day-light saving concept implemented in India simultaneously with Time-zones. Personally, I believe day-light saving is more important than having timezone. Agreed, operationally it is more challenging to adjust times two times a year, but we can evaluate different approaches to implement and adopt it:
  • The switch-over dates should be very important national holidays. This will ensure people can not miss it. Also, being a holiday, transitional inconvenience and impact will be less. I propose that we pick 14th April (Birthday of Babasaheb Ambedkar) and 2nd October (Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi) as two dates. We can refer the same as IDT (India Day-light saving Time) and EID (Eastern India Daylight saving time) starting 14th April which is 1 hour ahead (India starts working early by 1 hour) and going back to original IST and EIT on 2nd October. There could be two ways it can be implemented:
    • Ask everybody to "push" their watch/clock by one hour (start working one hour early) On 14th April every year and On 2nd October ask everybody to pull the clock/watch back by 1 hour to go back to original time as adjusted IST and EIT.
    • IDT and EID mapping: Operationally first option could be challenging given the communication penetration challenges in India and might create confusion as it needs individual to take action of clock adjustments. However an alternative could be to enforce a business hour adjustments for all where it matters most. 
      1. On 14th April every year- All transport, shops, establishments and institutes start working 1 hour early in the day. Individuals need not adjust their clock, but business can still refer the same as IDT (India Day-light saving Time) and EID (Eastern India Daylight saving).
      2. On 2nd October – All switch back to standard working hour (IST and EIT)
Initial 5 years, on these two dates and run-up to these dates, Govt. needs to do lot of publicity and communication tsunami through media, TV, newspapers, radio. Recent reform experiments have shown that instead of being paranoid about how a change may be accepted by people and not acting, Government should do what is "right" and people will support it.