Separate Time Zone For Northeast - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Separate Time Zone for Northeast

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Jun 19, 2017 11:39 pm

It has been a few years that leaders, luminaries from various field from the north east and organisations have been demanding for a separate time zone for the north east. The first demand for such a move from the government of India initially started in the nineties. Then it was raised again in 2014 with the chief minister of Assam leading it, stating that it would lead the region to be more productive and also save energy. The government rejected the demand on the ground that the region was not losing electricity as claimed and that the amount of electricity saved would be modest if the clock was moved an hour ahead of rest of the country. One aspect where the government did not give any reason was the productivity aspect of the argument. The BJP government in Assam that came to power in 2016 also initially planned to renew the demand. Although it was initially hoped that it may turn fruitful with its party in power at the centre, it however slowly fizzled out. This time round another BJP government, the one in Arunachal Pradesh led by its chief minister has also raised the voice for a different time zone for the Northeast.

The earlier argument from the government that there will be only a modest saving of electricity if the north east has a new time zone might be correct. However the most important aspect is the productivity of the people in the region. For centuries the region mostly inhabited by tribals were known for their hard work and productivity. The Indian Standard Time did not affect much of the daily routine of the people in the region for a long time except in the cities and a few towns. At present with development and improvement in communication the influence of the IST has increased to a wider area.

The region experiences dawn as early as 4 a.m and sunrise is by 4:20 a.m in some of the eastern areas bordering Myanmar. However almost all institutional and governmental activity starts only between 8 and 9:30 in the morning along with the rest of the country. Therefore there is a window of almost 3 to 4 hours of un-productivity except for those engaged in agriculture. In Nagaland, in a typical village setting the farmers leave for work by 6 in the morning but their children have to wait another 2 hours to attend school. Similarly in the towns in Nagaland a person employed in an office has almost 5 hours of free time before reporting for work but the working window in the office is less because offices need to close early as dusk approaches. The working window is still lesser during winter. Though there are no scientific studies yet but the time difference is accepted as a big factor of the laid-back nature of the people of the region.

The intention to unite the country with a single time zone since independence now may have some very adverse effects in the regions far east of the prime meridian chosen for the IST. Pre Independence India actually had different time zones which the British considered it to be more effective. At present the eastern tip of India and the western tip have almost 2 hours of difference in sunrise and sunset.

Russia has the highest number of times zones standing at 11 and the USA has 5 time zones excluding Hawai. Along with the time zones many countries in the world have the self explanatory Daylight Savings Time where the clock is advanced an hour during summer and brought back during winter to get an extra hour of daylight in the evenings.

The government of India citing the example of China for a single time zone may not hold water for long. All the states could somehow follow the single time zone without much difference and in fact the western part of the country enjoys extra time during the evenings. However when it comes to the Northeast, there is a sure case of un-productivity and other socio-economic effects. India needs to get out of the era when the whole country was somehow controlled by a single time zone that was further disseminated by a single national television channel and a single radio agency.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Jun 19, 2017 11:39:37 pm
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