Understanding the Evolution of India Time Zones
A time zone is an area that observes a standard time for legal and commercial purposes. It follows the territorial boundaries between nations and the other regions instead of following longitudinal distances. There are many significant changes from an early age since when the first time zone was decided for the country. These changes got us a standard time zone for the country.
In the business world, India is commonly associated as the preferred country for outsourcing services. Part of the reason is that the services sector drives India’s economy, and outsourcing is a major segment of its services industry. Although they are based in Asia, many outsourcing companies in India can operate flexibly according to their client’s time zone. The India time zone itself is only five and hours ahead of the coordinated universal time (UTC). The India Standard Time (IST) is the official time recognized by the Indian government. But when it comes to a particular industrial area, there are provisions in the labour law that allows for a different time zone.
A Brief History of India Time Zones
The first time zone introduced in India was the Madras Time. John Goldingham set it up in 1802. Since the railway industry was at its peak, many railway companies running in India followed this time zone.
Later, new time zones were officially established back in 1884 when the country was under British Rule. At that time, there were two time zones in India, i.e.,
- Bombay Time
- Calcutta Time
These time zones were established due to these cities’ rising importance in commercial and economic growth areas. Though IST (Indian Standard Time) was introduced as a standard time zone throughout the country, Bombay Time and Calcutta Time zones remained until 1955 and 1948.
Earlier, the government used to relay the correct time through omnibus telephone systems to organizations that needed an accurate time. Later, the government started broadcasting the time through Radio. India being a large country, there was a need for a precise time, especially during World War II. For this purpose, War Time was introduced where the clocks under IST were set one hour ahead.
Unlike other countries, India does not follow Daylight Saving Time. However, many people still argue and have requested the Indian Government to implement Daylight Saving Time. Let us know why!
Daylight Saving Time
In India, Daylight Saving Time existed during Sino-Indian War in 1962 and the Indo-Pakistan Wars in 1965. This was done to reduce civilian energy consumption. After that, India stopped observing Daylight Saving Time and just followed IST. While implementing Daylight Saving Time is still possible, it would result in a significant number of changes.
If you look at India’s geographical position, it is neither too close nor too far from the equator. India is primarily a tropical country, so the government believes there is no point in having separate time zones. On the contrary, so many people still believe that the government must establish two different time zones in India.
Unlike most of the states, the North-Eastern part of India faces issues with IST. India is undoubtedly a large country whose widest point stretches up to 2,933 kilometres from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat.
In the Northeast, Indian Standard Time is resulting in loss of daylight time, resulting in loss of productivity.
Places suitable for Tea plantation witness sunrise are at 4 a.m and Sunset at 4 p.m. This has become one of the significant problems for tea growers in Assam. For these workers, the loss of these daylight hours results in reduced productivity. To resolve this, bagantime came into existence. It can be said that bagantime is one hour ahead of Indian Standard Time, and this is how these workers can use the extra daylight hours.
This was not the first time when the issue of IST was discussed by the government. However, to facilitate easy trade and avoid confusion, India follows a standard time zone, i.e., Indian Standard Time.
Indian Standard Time (IST)
As mentioned above, IST is the standard time zone throughout India. Precisely, India follows UTC(Coordinated Universal Time)/GMT(Greenwich Mean Time) + 5.5hours. This whole concept is Indian Standard Time or IST.
Like other time zones, India’s time zone is calculated based on the central meridian for India. Shakargarh Fort, Mirzapur, Allahabad District of Uttar Pradesh, was declared India’s main meridian point. The India time zone is calculated based on a longitude of 82.5° E at this fort.
How to Determine Accurate Time For Official Purposes?
As mentioned above, to this date, the government broadcasts the precise time over the national All India Radio and Doordarshan TV networks. All the telephone companies have phone numbers that connect with the mirror time servers. These servers relay the precise time to these telephone companies.
For official purposes, the Indian Government follows Time Signals given by the Time and Frequency Standards Laboratory at the National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi. These signals come from Atomic Clocks, and to get the most accurate time, it synchronizes with a centralized system of clocks that support Coordinated Universal Time.
Should India Have Multiple Time Zones?
While the government believes that India’s Meridian Point passes through the centre hence no need for multiple time zones, some people and institutes consider having various time zones a good decision for India. If you visit the NorthEastern States like Arunachal Pradesh, Sunrises at 4:30 am. This is the reason you will see people out on the streets by 6:00 am. Locals in these states still sleep at 8:00 because of extra daylight hours.
Meanwhile, the India time zone works well most of the time for corporate and businesses in any of its cities. Cultural differences instead of time differences will only challenge global businesses based in India with Indian clients. In other words, if clients prefer a nine to five work culture, businesses across India can easily close deals or engage in client meetings. But, Indian global business may need to remember where their colleagues or clients are in the world to ensure smooth engagements. This also calls for Indian global businesses to keep a flexible working hour. If a flexible working hour is limited to the operating license, the next option is to work from home.