North East India

Share The Daylight with North East India

It was already twilight at 04:00 pm on one December afternoon when I got off a bus at Roing, Arunachal Pradesh. People were on their way back from work and restaurants were getting ready to serve dinner. Thats when I realized that there is nothing standard about the Indian Standard Time (IST). Thats when I realized that everyday life in the region followed the sun. I wondered – could we share the daylight with North East India?

For those who do not know, North East India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Himalayas and its waters define the region’s terrain, climate, rich biodiversity, and the peculiar indigenous lifestyles her people follow. That North East India is bound by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet to the north, Bangladesh to the south and west, and Myanmar to the east hints at the eclectic mix of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. This is where elements of Asia come together to do what they do best – cast a spell.

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Abhijeet Deshpande, author of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey, lived the North Eastern life during his travels and witnessed the impact of a standard time zone on the region. He shares a perspective.

North East India is an Early Riser

Let us reconsider the above map, only this time with timezones marked on top. Bangladesh and Bhutan are IST+30 minutes, China is IST+150 minutes, Myanmar is IST+60 minutes, and Nepal is IST+15 minutes. Notice how the region of North East India is sandwiched between all these countries and their different time zones.

Now, picture this: Tinsukia, a town on Assam’s eastern border, currently shares a time zone with the nation’s capital New Delhi, roughly 2300 Km west. Whereas Bangkok, which is almost the same distance heading southeast from Tinsukia, is 1 hour 30 minutes ahead of IST. So when Thailand is about to wake up at 05:30 am, New Delhi is in a dreamland at 04:00 am and Manipur is hitting the snooze button. Look at the earliest and latest times (current IST = UTC+0530 Hrs) for sunrise and sunsets in four state capitals of India and notice how early (04:24 am) Imphal greets the sun.

State CapitalsEarliest SunriseLatest SunriseEarliest SunsetLatest Sunset
New Delhi05:2207:1517:2419:23

Data Source

North East India Follows the Sun

If you travel to the least explored North East India, be prepared to start and end your days sooner than usual. In many remote areas, restaurants or eateries offer breakfast and meals earlier than what you might be used to. How about lunch at 1030 am? Likewise, public transport services might start as early as 5 am to get people to their respective destinations before sun down. By 06:30 pm most of the shops shut down and guest houses request you to return to your room by then. By 09:00 pm, for all practical purposes, it is midnight. In urban areas, on the other hand, the fallout is limited. With a relatively active night life, you do have the option of dining out until later in the evening. However, the loss of productivity in other areas and the impact on social lives persists.

North East India has adapted itself to this reality, at times making autonomous choices. For instance, tea gardens, one of the region’s biggest revenue earners, follow a British legacy. Their clocks are an hour ahead of the Indian Standard Time.

Share the Daylight

Many people have highlighted the issue and even demanded a separate timezone for North East India. As the region’s security situation continues to normalize, and focus shifts to quality of life, such demands are likely to intensify. It is unclear whether current national capacity is adequate to implement multiple timezones. So, in the meanwhile, how about sharing the daylight while retaining a single harmonized timezone?

DP Sengupta and Dilip R Ahuja, researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Studies, have proposed advancing the standard time by 30 minutes to make IST as UTC+0600 Hrs. Clearly, this would increase daylight hours in the North East India by an hour (30 minutes each in the morning and evening). So, instead of an Imphal sunrise at 04:24 am, it would be at 04:54 am. See revised chart (proposed IST = UTC+0600 Hrs) below. Notice how other parts of India have no significant difference in daylight.

State CapitalsEarliest SunriseLatest SunriseEarliest SunsetLatest Sunset
New Delhi05:5207:4517:5419:53

Data Source

A Harmonized Timezone

With potential benefits to North East India, questions remain on whether advancing IST by 30 minutes be suitable in the national context.

  • Would a UTC+0600 scenario result in substantial energy savings (due to nationwide daylight saving), and thus provide an economic justification for the move?
  • Would a UTC+0600 scenario offer a positive impact on trade and connectivity initiatives with Bangladesh and Nepal or on the proposed tourism initiative with Bhutan? (These countries are important partners for North East India)
  • Are there synergies that a UTC+0600 scenario might offer with India’s Act East policy?

Unless the response to these and more such related queries is counter-intuitive, there could be a case for sharing the daylight with North East India.

Think North East India

Planning to visit? Pick up a copy of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It covers over two dozen places and attempts to answer the question – what is it like to travel in the region? Give it a read and make your own plans. Buy now!

Amazon India, Amazon US, Kindle, Apple iTunes, Flipkart, Google Playstore, Infibeam, Kobo, NotionPress

Have you been to or live in North East India? What are your thoughts on the idea of ‘Sharing the Daylight’? We would love to hear from you (please scroll below to leave a comment).

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Credits: This piece is edited from its original version, written in response to a question, on Quora?

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Disclaimers: (1) Maps, wherever used on this site, serve a representational purpose only. Backpacking Series does not endorse or accept the boundaries shown, names, or designations used by map providers. (2) This story / article is based on personal opinions of the author. Backpacking Series is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity and it does not assume any responsibility or liability arising out of use of any information provided herein.

22 thoughts on “Share The Daylight with North East India

  1. I couldn’t get up with the sun, I am up at 5am regardless but especially during winter in Australia it is still dark. I would lose a whole chunk of productive time haha


  2. I always feel the North Eastern Indian keeps getting overlooked by many travellers. My friends who have been there had so many good things to say about the great place and people. You posts second those opinions!

    1. Yes, North East India is one of the least explored regions in the country and there are many reasons to visit this paradise unexplored! You can look up our other posts on North East India to get more insights.

  3. Wow! I’ve never been to North East India but its beautiful. Here in South America the Daylight timings are so different that every time I go on vacation I either oversleep or sleep very late. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading your post.

  4. I have never visited North East India and it’s really lovely to learn more about it! I think India is such an exciting and interesting place, especially with the vast culture and the beautiful history!

  5. I would love to visit India & soak up all the culture, the food & everything India has to offer. I am a night owl though, I like to stay up late & sleep late

  6. Your post taught me so many new things about India and Northeast India respectively. It is so exciting how so many places are neighboring but are all seeing the sun rise and set and various times.

  7. we are planning to visit North east side this year will surely check on to do list. India is incredibly beautiful.

  8. I would love to visit north east India its already in my bucket list. Its a gorgeous place to be . Hopefully soon I’ll be able to go there.

  9. A very interesting read. Time zones, while useful, can also be incredibly without logic, sometimes. I am enjoying your NE India series.

  10. I would love to visit India one day. I had no idea the daylight timings were so different. Thank you for the information.

  11. I have never been to North East India and impressed a lot by the difference in daylight timings. Your article is very useful for everyone who is planning to visit this place. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  12. I have never been to India, or Asia for that matter, so every time I come across and article about that part of the world I really enjoy reading it, because every single time I learn something new.

  13. I have never been to India before. And I am hearing about these information for the first time. Sounds amazing. Would love to visit one day.

  14. One thing that I miss living in the province is the opportunity to wke up early and kiss the first rays of the sun. It is a very beautiful feeling. I can’t do that here jn the city.

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