Why north-eastern states are demanding a separate time zone? What would be the implications if India adopts two time zones?

Published: March 5, 2018

Time zone is a region which uses the same standard time for legal, social and commercial purposes. India follows the standard time of 82.5 deg E longitude.
There has been demand for adopting two different time zones in India because:

  • The latitudinal difference between the western and eastern part of the country is almost 30 deg. This results in local time difference of about two hours. As a result the north-eastern states are not able to utilize the daylight efficiently as their local time is two hours ahead of standard time.
  • There are many international examples. Many countries are using more than one standard time zone. ex: Russia, US.
  • The uniform standard time across the country is a colonial legacy. Multiple standard times are a step towards acknowledging regional diversities.
  • The separate time zone in northeast will also result in better daylight usage. This will aid in reducing the carbon footprint and reduces the economic burden due to reduced power consumption.

Challenges due to separate time zones:

  • The different time zones may lead to confusions and disturbances because of the lack of literacy in the country.
  • It would enhance the burden of expenditure for governance and administration.
  • The north-east though politically integrated with the mainland, there is no emotional integration between north east and rest of India. Separate time zone may further become a barrier in integrating the north-east with mainland.

Though the separate time zone provides substantial benefits the socio-economic conditions are not yet ripe for the adoption. Therefore as an immediate step government must consider shifting of office and school timings and can undertake a pilot project to study various dimensions of the proposal.

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