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Sci-fi guru Arthur C. Clarke opposes time change

Clarke urged Sri Lanka to reconsider plans to change its GMT-offset for the second time in six years.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 17:16 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

British science fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke on Tuesday urged his adopted nation Sri Lanka to reconsider plans to put the clock back after a 10-year experiment on daylight saving.

Clarke, 88, who has made the Indian Ocean island his home since 1956, said he hoped "wiser counsel would prevail" and Sri Lanka will scrap plans to put the clock back by half an hour from April.

President Mahinda Rajapakse ordered that Sri Lanka revert to its original standard time, five and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which it followed till May 1996.

Faced with an electricity crisis that month, the government advanced the clock by an hour to extend daylight hours. In October that year it brought it back by half an hour to put Sri Lanka six hours ahead of GMT.

"In today's rapidly globalising world, Sri Lanka cannot afford to keep changing a fundamental attribute like standard time every few years," Clarke said in a statement.

"Such a move would harm the perception of foreign investors, international banks, airlines and tourists -- at a time when we are trying to attract them all."

He accepted the government's position that children had to wake up early to leave for school, but argued that they now had an extra half hour to play in the evening and urged that school opening time be pushed back.

The island is set to return to five and a half hours ahead of GMT with the dawn of the traditional New Year on April 13, moving back to the same time as its giant neighbour India.

Clarke urged India to add half an hour to its time, to go to six hours ahead of GMT and make calculations simpler for all.

The author, who in 1945 foresaw communication satellites, has written more than 80 books. He is Sri Lanka's best-known resident guest and has a scientific academy named after him.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 17:09 IST