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SL goes back to Indian Standard Time

Lanka went back to Indian Standard Time, GMT plus 5.30 hours, after a gap of ten yrs, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 11:28 IST

Sri Lanka on Saturday went back to Indian Standard Time (GMT plus 5.30 hours) after a gap of ten years.

Among the chief reasons cited for the change are synchronisation with India and maximum use of daylight.

The changeover took place at 12.00 am on April 15.

April 14 night-April 15 morning was chosen because it coincides with the auspicious Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

This is the sixth change in 64 years, and the third in the last ten years.

Since 1880, the Sri Lanka or Ceylon Time has varied between GMT plus 5.30 hrs to GMT plus 6.30 hours.

War time needs, day light and electricity saving, a more convenient school timing, and synchronisation with India, have been among the reasons given for the shifts.

In 1880, it was GMT plus 5.30 hrs. During World War II, in January 1942, when the Japanese were on the verge of invading Sri Lanka, the time was shifted to GMT plus 6.00 hrs.

In September the same year, it was further advanced to 6.30 hrs.

When the War ended in 1945, Sri Lanka jumped back to GMT plus 5.30 hrs to be in tune with neighbouring India.

But in May 1996, it was changed to GMT plus 6.30 hrs because of a severe power shortage in the country. Day light had to be used to the maximum.

However, this had to be changed again in October of the same year, because parents of school going children found it difficult to pack their kids off to school very early in the morning. Sri Lankan schools start very early.

The clocks were thus put back by half an hour to GMT plus 6.00 hrs.

But even as people had gotten used to GMT plus 6.00 hrs, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government suddenly decided to shift the time again for no pressing reason.

When the change over was announced some time ago, the rumour was that astrologers had advised the President to go back to GMT plus 5.30 hours.

But this was vehemently denied by officials.

However, it is significant that Sri Lankan astrologers and Buddhist monks (who prescribe auspicious timings for various events) had stuck to the Indian Standard Time of GMT.5.30 hrs through all these changes!

The rebel LTTE too had used IST right through the changes since 1996.

Those passing through LTTE controlled territory or doing business there had to put back their watches appropriately.

Rebel press conferences and radio broadcasts, including Prabhakaran's annual televised address to his people, had stuck to IST.

India too had been changing

It is interesting to note, that while India has been more consistent, it has changed the time in the past. And some interesting anomalies existed.

India's Time Zones were established in 1884. There were two Time Zones then, the Bombay Time and Calcutta Time.

IST, which is GMT plus 5.30 hrs, came into existence in 1905, calculated from the Allahabad Observatory.

But Bombay continued to have a different time, 39 minutes behind IST, till 1955!

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, that part of India, which is east of Bangladesh, still uses GMT plus 6.00 hours, in view of the reality in regard to sun rise there.

India does not observe Daylight Saving Time now. But during the Sino-Indian War in 1962 and the India-Pakistan Wars in 1965 and 1971, it was used.