Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: IST system
Mains level: Issue of two time zones being raised by NE India receives a full stop.
- A panel, formed to examine having a separate time zone for the NE States, recommended against it for “strategic reasons”.
Proposed time zones: IST-I and IST-II
- The custodian of Indian Standard Time (IST) proposed two time zones IST-I and IST-II for the country as follows:
- IST-I would be same as current IST, that is, UTC +5:30
- IST-II would be UTC +6:30 owing to the difference of one hour between eastern and western part of the country
- The borderline between two time zones would have been 89°52’E, the narrow border between Assam and West Bengal.
- States west of this line would have followed IST-I (UTC +5:30) while states east of this line (Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands) would have followed IST-II (UTC +6:30).
- The implementation would require the establishment of a laboratory for ‘Primary Time Ensemble II’ generating IST-II in any of the north-eastern states, which would be equivalent to the existing ‘Primary Time Ensemble-I’ at CSIR-NPL, New Delhi.
Need for two time zones
- India extends from 68°7’E to 97°25’E, with the spread of 29 degrees, which amounts to almost two-hours from the geographical perspective.
- For decades, legislators, activists, industrialists and ordinary citizens from India’s northeast have complained about the effect of IST on their lives.
Following are the factors which compelled the people from northeast to demand a different time zone:
1. Loss of daylight hours and excess electricity usage
- Since the sun rises as early as four in the morning and in winter it sets by four in the evening, the region loses most of its daytime hours before the government offices and schools are opened.
- This ends up with more electricity usage.
- A different time zone would allow sunsets to take place later, allowing the citizens to better use their daylight hours.
- A study done by Bengaluru based National Institute of Advanced Studies concluded that a separate time zone for the northeastern region could help in saving 2.7 billion units of electricity every year.
2. Effect on biological clocks of citizens
- The longitudinal extremes of the country are assigned a single time zone which not only creates the loss of daylight hours but also creates problems relating to the biological clock.
- The biological clock is so active that when we move from one time zone to another, it forces us to sleep at an unusual time.
- This is commonly known as jetlag and it requires few days to resynchronize our biological clock with the local solar timings.
No need for separate Time Zone
What are the strategic reasons?
- The other countries that have multiple times zones in single land mass, the population density is much less compared to India.
- The NE is hung with mainland of India through the narrow chicken’s neck.
- But in India, any border between separated time zones will run through densely populated areas, creating huge chaos.
- Separate time zones will mean separate schedules for same trains, flights that criss-cross the country on a daily basis.
- Moreover, the administration in India is not known for its efficiency.
Easy Solutions against separate time zone
- Although India has a single time zone, it does not mean that everyone has to follow the same routine/ work shifts.
- The regions in the east can start and end their work day one or two hours earlier, and get all the benefits of having a separate time zone, without the chaos associated with it.
- Individual organisations, companies, factories, educational institutions, public sector units, state governments can fix work hours based on their geographic location.
- For example, an office in Kolkata can have a workday of 8 to 4, there is no bar on doing so.
- In Assam, the tea gardens follow a different time zone, known as Tea Garden Time or Bagan Time which is one hour ahead of IST.
- Most tea gardens in the organised sector in Assam start their workday at around 7 AM.
- Even the administrative offices of public sector companies like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and Oil India Limited (OIL) in Assam start working at 7 AM.
- As long as total work hours do not exceed prescribed limits set by labour laws, there is no bar on the private sector to fix their own work timings.
- Likewise, several colleges in Assam start their classes at 7 AM, or even before that.
Electricity: Not a big deal
- While talking about the benefit of separate time zone, it is said that there will be huge savings in money due to better utilisation of daylight.
- In the analysis of estimated savings, the entire power bill of an organisation is taken into account.
- But that is the wrong approach to estimate that, because the light is not the only purpose that uses electricity, it is not even the largest user.
- In fact, with the advent of LED lights, the lighting takes a minuscule amount of power in a house.
- Most power is consumed in cooling, running computers and other equipment etc, and those uses will remain fixed no matter what the work timings are.
Global examples are misleading
- There is a misleading information about countries like France has 12 time zones, and Britain has 9 time zones.
- France and Great Britain has only one time zone each.
- But as both the countries have several overseas territories, a legacy of colonies they had in past, those territories have separate time zones according to their geographic locations.
- Those are separate land masses located at different continents, most of them being islands at oceans, hence they do not suffer from any problem that India might face with multiple time zones.
Biological / Circadian Clock
- The 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young for their research which elucidated that plants, animals, and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with Earth’s revolution.
- They established that biological species are ruled by internal clocks (biological clocks) that run on a 24-h light-dark cycle in synchronization with the sun.
- Due to this synchronization humans fall asleep at night and plants synthesize chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight.
- This diagram depicts the circadian patterns typical of someone who rises early in the morning, eats lunch around noon, and sleeps at night (10 pm).
With inputs from: India Today