The Hari Putar Dialogues - 63
(BBC News ; Dacca ; 19 June : The Bangladesh government has agreed to adopt daylight saving time (DST), responding to calls from business. DST is confirmed to start at midnight between Friday 19 June and Saturday 20 June 2009, to save power and alleviate the nation's energy shortfall. The government made the decision to introduce DST in Bangladesh to address the country's energy shortages, particularly during the summer period. It means businesses will open and close an hour earlier than usual. This arrangement aims to save energy by reducing artificial lighting in the evening, when the demand for power traditionally peaks. At least 70 countries around the world - including the US, Britain, Japan and Pakistan - have been able to save on power consumption by using the DST system.)
Putar: There is a report on the BBC website today that Bangladesh has decided to adopt the DST system.
Hari: What is that?
Putar: Daylight saving time system. This means that from 19 June onwards businesses will open and close an hour earlier than usual. Bangladesh needs to save electricity.
Hari: Why will this save electricity?
Putar: Because it has been observed that more electricity is consumed in the evenings than in the mornings. So if you start earlier, you will have more light at the time when offices and businesses are closing.
Hari: That makes sense.
Putar: About 90 million out of 140 million people in Bangladesh do not have direct access to electricity and those who do have it suffer frequent cuts during the day, which can often last up to an hour each time.
Hari: Everyone needs to save electricity.
Putar: True. The cuts are part of what the Bangladesh government refers to as a power-sharing program.
Hari: This is a good idea, but why only businesses? Why not government offices as well?
Putar: The report does not mention government offices, but it makes sense to apply the system to government offices as well.
Hari: Has DST been adopted in other countries as well?
Putar: Oh, yes. At least 70 countries around the world - including the US, Britain, Japan and Pakistan - have been able to save on power consumption by using the DST system.
Hari: India should also use this system. We also have power shortages.
Putar: Yes, we should, but in our case the matter is a bit more complex.
Hari: Why do you say that?
Putar: As you know we are a large country but we still have only one time zone. That is Indian Standard Time. So whether it is Goa or Nagaland, the time all over the country is the same.
Hari: That's true, but why should that make a difference to the adoption of the DST system?
Putar: Because the sun rises at different times in different parts of the country. In the North East the sun rises much earlier. In the summer in many places, such as Nagaland the sun rises at something like three in the morning.
Putar: Oh, yes. We actually need to have different time zones in the country. In the US for instance there is a three-hour time difference between Los Angeles and New York.
Hari: I guess though there are advantages to having the same time all over the country.
Putar: That's true also. But if we stick to IST but want to introduce daylight saving, in the summer months we'll have to open Government offices at say five in the morning in Nagaland, and eight in Delhi.
Hari: That will create confusion.
Putar: In the beginning, yes, but after some time people will get used to it. It will create less confusion than having two or three different time zones in the country. Can you imagine the confusion with airline, railway and bus timings if we have two or three different time zones? Flying off from Delhi at 3 pm and reaching Bombay at 3 pm also because of the time difference.
Hari: That's true. It probably makes sense to continue with Indian standard time, but just have offices and businesses starting and closing at different times in different parts of the country.
Putar: We should have a high level meeting where different Central ministries in charge of electricity, power and environment meet with some State Governments and sort out this issue.
Hari: Yes, it will lead to a lot of power saving.
Putar: The Central Government offices have the same working hours all over the country. They should change office timings in Central Government offices depending on which part of the country they are located in. They don't even need to consult State Governments for that.
Hari: That's true.
Putar: Tell me something, Papaji.
Hari: Bol, Putar?
Putar: Public servants in government offices will save power and electricity if they use this system, but they will not necessarily work harder or more efficiently, will they?
Hari: I suppose not, Putar.
Putar: All the same, if we use this DST system ' with suitable modifications as appropriate for the country ' it will have a dramatic effect. Just in a single stroke we will use power more efficiently and save our country millions of rupees.
Hari: That's true. As they say it's better to light a candle than to simply curse the darkness.
Putar: Is their anything we can do so that in just one stroke our politicians too learn to use power more wisely?
Hari: I don't know, Putar.