Sinlung /
11 May 2013

Northeast Students Body Demands Separate Time Zone

NESO members at the news conference in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Yasir Iqbal

New Delhi, May 11 : The Northeast may have been dubbed backward but the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) is convinced the region is “ahead” in time.

A delegation of the student organisation told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a meeting this week that the Northeast should have a separate time zone, an hour ahead of rest of India.

The delegation, which also called on BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and election commissioner H.S. Brahma in the national capital, believes that demands put up a year before elections “can put pressure” on political leaders.

They also presented an eight-point charter to Singh that also opposed the India-Bangladesh land swap deal, while demanding special constitutional status for the Northeast, an education commission for educational reforms in the region and restructuring of the DoNER ministry.

“We are seriously pursuing the time zone demand. The sun rises one hour ahead in the Northeast; so we do need a separate zone,” NESO adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya told reporters today. “Persons of eminence like filmmaker Jahnu Barua has taken an initiative and so have others.”

The Northeast is linked to the rest of India by a sliver of land just 26km wide. The entire region is located beyond Bangladesh, where the standard time is half-an-hour ahead of India. Yet, to Dhaka’s east, the Northeast is half-an-hour behind the neighbouring country. In a meeting with Singh and Opposition leaders, the organisation said a separate time zone was a must if the region was to develop. States like Nagaland even have shorter working hours owing to the “early sunset”, raising questions on productivity in government jobs.

Elsewhere in the world, there is the “daylight saving time”, which in the United States starts at 2am on the second Sunday of March every year. On the first Sunday of November, areas on daylight saving time reset their clocks one hour behind at 2am and return to the standard time. Daylight saving time is prevalent in Europe too.

Unlike the United States, which has nine standard time zones, India has a uniform time zone: Indian Standard Time or IST, that extends from the westernmost point on the Gujarat coast to Dong in Arunachal Pradesh, where the sun first rises for India.

Bhattacharya said the region was an hour ahead of Delhi and even further ahead in time than Mumbai.

Though the government finds “no merit” in the demand, the student organisation, which has held several meetings on the issue, feels that a separate zone is possible. Its leaders insisted that there was merit in this: “It can be and will be logically proven.”


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