What’s the reason for India’s Time Zone being 30 minutes off?

What’s the reason for India’s Time Zone being 30 minutes off?

India Standard Time (IST)

When traveling to India, the first thing tourists often notice is their clock change. As a matter of fact, it might even be confusing at first, since the Indian Standard Time (IST) timezone is not 1-hour off like most time zones in the world. Instead, your smart device will show an increment of 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised to learn that this particularity is mostly due to political tensions from the past and that since 1947, IST is the official Indian time zone.

What’s the reason why time zones were created?

During the 1700s, many transoceanic cargo travelers had a hard time with their clocks, it wasn’t clear yet that time zones were needed since the Earth was round and rotating around the sun. Sir Standford Fleming, a renowned astronomer at the time, had the idea to create a new time system, where the planet Earth would be divided into 24 equal parts.

Within each equal part, an offset of 1 hour would be put in place so that when a cargo ship traverses from one time zone to the next, the crew could simply adjust their clocks accordingly. From the time zone invention the Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, was born. Both were mostly used at the time by officials, scientists, and astronomers.

However, in the early 1900s, pre World War I, most common folks were familiar with the new way to determine time. A few decades later, a new time zone system would change the way we use time forever.

Why is GMT not used as much as before?

The first thing we need to take into account is this: while GMT was a revolutionary time system in its own right, it had to rely on the sun’s position when crossing the Prime Meridian (longitude 0 degrees). This was problematic when the sky was cloudy. But not only that, since the rotation of the Earth is not a 100% perfect rotation, the results were not exactly the same during the year.

Besides, this is the reason Daylight Saving Time had to be invented. The little cumulative offsets through the year had a huge impact on the number of hours the sun was up in the sky before sunset. By pulling back or moving time forward by 1 hour, this problem was no more. All that being said, what if there was a way to have a perfect clock that doesn’t need the sun’s position and that doesn’t need any Daylight Saving Time?

Say hello to UTC, or Coordinated Universal Time! This new time system was not only independent of the sun, it gave the exact same time for everybody in the world. It was still using a 1-hour offset for each time zone, but, with its atomic clock process, time had never been so precise. From there, UTC almost took over the entire world, although a few countries and entities still use GMT.

Why is there a 30-minute offset with India Standard Time (IST)?

As mentioned earlier, the 30-minute offset from India is mainly due to political tension from the past between New Delhi’s Union Government and Pakistan. Since New Delhi (the capital city from India) is strangely placed in the middle between Pakistan (UTC +5:00) and Bangladesh (UTC +6:00), a time offset of 30 minutes was chosen when IST was created.

In the year 1947, IST +5:30, which also translates to UTC +05:30 or GMT +05:30, was the new official public time for India. Although IST has been India’s time zone for quite a while now, there were 2 cities with their own local times: Kolkata and Mumbai. By 1955, the Calcutta Time and Bombay Time zones had both given place to the Indian Time Zone.

Is there more than one time zone in India?

No, there is only one time zone in India in 2021. There were, however, 3 time zones in India before the Second World War:

  • Indian Standard Time
  • Calcutta Time
  • Bombay Time

But since 1955, only IST remains. It is worth noting that Bombay Time was Mumbai’s time zone, but the city’s name was changed from Bombay to Mumbai in the mid-1990s.

Are there any other countries that use IST as well?

No, there is no other country using the same time zone as what India currently uses. That being said, there are some countries using the same time offset of UTC+5:30. For example, Myanmar Time, or MTT, also uses GMT+5:30 and UTC+5:30.

What other country uses a weird time offset for their time zone?

Like is it wasn’t enough confusing with a 30-minute offset, can you imagine that there are some other countries in the world that use something entirely different as well? That’s right, Nepal for example has its own time zone, NPT (Nepal Time). The latter doesn’t use a 1-hour offset, nor does it use a 30-minute offset. Instead, Nepal Time is UTC+05:45, or in other words, has an offset of +45 minutes!

What’s the best time zone app?

In order to stay somewhat organized while traveling or when you have an international online meeting, it is great to have an application handy that can help you keep time. Here are the best applications for timekeeping between different time zones:

  • FoxClocks
    This web add on or extension started as a Firefox exclusive, but lately became available on Google Chrome and Thunderbird as well. Just download it from the Chrome Store and fire it up directly from your web browser, very useful.
  • iOS Word Clock
    This clock iOS app will tell you the different times between each time zone while offering you a wide array of functionalities.
  • Microsoft Alarms & Clock app
    And finally, this application is normally included for free with Windows 10. Its user-friendly interface and numerous time features will help you with your schedule and meetings.

In conclusion, India’s time offset is not that complicated once you get used to it. At least, it is not using a 45-minute offset like Nepal Time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *