Spring Forward to DST


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Yesterday at 1:30 pm I received a phone call from my elder daughter Sujatha who lives in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, India. I asked her “Is it an emergency call? Isn’t it midnight over there? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

She laughed and said, “Appa, it’s only eleven o’clock in the night, not midnight.”

Then it dawned on me. I remembered my daughter-in-law, Ligia, telling my wife that morning something about daylight saving time coming into force in the Eastern Time Zone (EST) where Elkridge, MD is.

In India we don’t have this phenomenon called Daylight Saving Time (DST) since in most part of the country we have almost equal amount of daytime and night-time the whole year round.

Daylight-saving time, or DST, is the period of the year when clocks are moved one hour ahead. This has the effect of creating more sunlit hours in the evening during months when the weather is the warmest. The clocks are advanced ahead by one hour at the beginning of DST, and are moved  back one hour (“spring forward, fall back”) to return to standard time (ST).

The  transition from ST to DST has the effect of moving one hour of daylight from the morning to the evening; and the transition from DST to ST effectively moves one hour of daylight from the evening to the morning.

Yesterday, Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m., the Eastern Time Zone officially switched from standard time to DST, giving us a later sunrise and sunset. DST will now be in effect for 238 days, or about 65% of the year. DST will end at 2 a.m. on November 4, 2012.

So, from yesterday, the time difference between New Delhi, India and Washington DC, USA is -9:30 hours instead of -10:30 hours.

New Delhi is 9:30 hours ahead of Washington DC. That means when it is 8:00 a.m. in Elkridge, Maryland, USA, it is 5:30 pm in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, India.

Why does anyone bother with daylight saving time in the first place?

Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century icon, is widely credited with coming up with the concept of daylight saving time in one of his satiric essays. He suggested a later sunset to decrease the use of fuel for artificial lights.

In an effort to conserve fuel, war-torn Germany, during World War I, was the first country in the world to introduce Daylight Saving Time (DST). Germany began observing DST on May 1, 1916. As the war progressed, most countries in Europe followed suite.

United States introduced the Standard Time Act on March 19, 1918 that established standard time zones and set summer Daylight Saving Time  to begin on March 31, 1918. Though the idea of DST was beneficial to the country, it was unpopular on many fronts and US Congress abolished DST after the war. DST then became a local option and observed in some states.

When World War II began,on February 9, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt implemented year-round DST, called “War Time”. It lasted till the last Sunday in September 1945. From the following year, many states and localities in US adopted summer DST.Today, most of the United States and its territories observe DST. However, DST is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the state of Arizona.

“There’s a Navajo saying about it,” said Marshall Trimble, Arizona’s State Historian, “That only the U.S. government could believe that when you chop the top off a blanket and sew it on the bottom, you have a longer blanket.”

Some tribes, including the Hopi and, locally, the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe, don’t spring forward in Arizona, but others like the Navajo Indian Reservation, does observe DST. This creates time zone pockets within time zone pockets, causing headaches for travelers in northeastern Arizona.

“Depending on where you’re coming from, you could change your watch, drive a few miles, change it again, drive a few miles and change it again,” said Trimble.

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