Everyone on the planet wants the sun to be at its highest point in the sky (cross the meridian) at noon. If there was only a one-time zone, it would be impossible because the Earth rotates 15 degrees every hour. The idea behind multiple time zones is to divide the world into 24 15-degree slices and set the clocks in each zone accordingly. All people in a given zone set their clocks the same way, and each zone is different from the other. In the continental United States, there are four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. When it is noon in the Eastern Time Zone, it is 11:00 AM in the Central Time Zone, 10:00 AM in the Mountain Time Zone, and 9:00 AM in the Pacific Time Zone.
The USA covers 4,800 km from east to west and is divided into six time zones. In contrast, India stretches over 3,000 km from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh, but has only one-time zone. While there is debate in the US about whether to switch from six time zones to two, India, on the other hand, has been talking about switching from one time zone to two for a long time. China also has one-time zone.
India is geographically the second largest country without multiple time zones. Before independence, India used Bombay, Calcutta and Madras time. Adopting two time zones for India is something the government should seriously think about.
North Eastern states have been vocal about dual time zones and if the bill is passed in Parliament, it will undoubtedly boost the Indian economy in the long run. India uses a single time zone because it serves its strategic and political purposes, but it is time to change that and see its economic needs.
Single time zone: Pros and cons Proponents of a single time zone argue that India is not as big as China, which has a single time zone (the country actually spans five time zones). Moreover, the introduction of two time zones in India will cause confusion, not only in the timetables of long-distance railways, but also in the way business is done. A single common experience, no matter where you are in India, unites the country. That’s a strong concept, but it’s also a bit flawed because it doesn’t take advantage of light.
India has long debated the feasibility of two time zones. In fact, tea gardens in Assam have long set their clocks an hour ahead of IST, creating their own informal time zone. The two time zones also have economic advantages; people will be able to work and plan more efficiently.
According to a study by the National Institute of Advanced Studies, two time zones will help India save 2.7 billion units of electricity annually. This is because most offices and schools in the eastern part of the country stay open long after sunset.
Saving electricity is crucial for India’s economy, which suffers from a crippling energy deficit. The International Energy Agency estimates that nearly 24 million Indians do not have access to electricity. According to CSIR-NPL, India could save ₹1,000 crore annually if it can conserve electricity by introducing two time zones.
The impact of time zones on international trade is a little known but significant issue. Historically, economic patterns and partners have had an impact on the time zones of nations. According to research, countries with more than one-time zone, such as the US, UK, Australia and Canada, have gained economically from trade across time zones. They were able to focus on their strengths and weaknesses, which led to the best results. Therefore, their work and sleep schedules operate in separate time zones. The time zone change allowed employees to develop healthier eating, sleeping and working habits, which had positive results.
Since the political authority controls the time zones, most of the advantages and disadvantages residents perceive about their countries’ time zones have been political or social rather than economic in nature. By taking advantage of these opportunities and converting time zone differences, India can see some economic benefits.
The government rejected a similar idea in 2002, citing its complexity. Due to the need to readjust the clock every time a time zone boundary is crossed, some experts believed that there was a possibility of train accidents.
But last year, India’s official timekeepers proposed two time zones, one for most of the country and another for eight states, including seven in the northeastern region and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There would be an hour difference between the two time zones.
In February, the issue was raised again in Parliament, where MP Deepinder Hooda demanded a Time Zone Reorganization Bill. However, the government said: “A separate time zone would lead to the people of the North East seeing themselves as separate from the rest of the country and would give rise to secessionist demands.”
India’s decision to adopt a single time zone after independence was a conscious one. A significant part of our population was illiterate at the time and two time zones would have led to many complications. But with impressive strides in improving literacy rates, this is no longer the case. India can benefit economically if it switches to time zone changes.