Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Living Daylights

I for one, have never quite understood the rationale behind Daylight Saving Time (DST). Clocks in many countries across the world are moved forward by 1 hour during early spring, and moved back by an hour in fall. For years, I had been told this is done to make use of longer days during summer. I spent most of my childhood wondering why people would want to shift their clocks one hour FORWARD during summer. During summer, the number of sunlit hours during a day increase both ways, so there is more sunlight during the morning as well as during the evening. By shifting the clocks one hour forward, one is making the day last longer towards the evening, but at the same time, making it start late in the morning. I was always at loss figuring out a reason for this seemingly meaningless tinkering with time-zones.

It was only recently that I happen to read that the very purpose of Day Light Saving is to provide more sunlight during evenings. This would make evenings more productive, as people tend to work till sunset. Also, having more sunlight during evenings saves electricity, as people would not switch on their lights till it gets dark. But I still have reservations about this theory, as it’s true benefit can only be realized if people continue to start their day at their non-DST adjusted morning hours. If I shift my entire day to day schedule I hour forward (which is what most people do), I am effectively negating the impact of DST. Also, DST might have been more useful during the early 1900s (when it was first implemented), when most people used to work outdoors, and abundant electricity was not available. But in this day an age, when the vast majority of the population works in temperature controlled environs indoors, the savings might not be substantial. Having said all that, going by the fact that almost half of the world follows DST, I guess there are many merits to the system, beyond comprehension for my limited intellect.

The only grudge I have with DST is that it has robbed me of an hour of my life. I am in the US now, and have had to shift my clock forward by an hour on March 11, to adjust for DST. As a result, March 11 was a 23 hour day for me. But in all probability, I will be in India when the reverse adjustment is made in fall. And since India has no DST, I will end up living 1 hour less. Just imagine, if such a think happens to a person many times during his life, he might actually end up loosing a decent chunk of his life time. :-)

"Lost time is never found again." - Proverb

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