One Country One time, India on the way to legalize Indian Standard Time
One Country One time, India on the way to legalize Indian Standard Time | Credit: Hanny Naibaho

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One Country One time, India on the way to legalize Indian Standard Time

Mar 31, 2018

India is in the process of legalising Indian Standard Time (IST). After this process, all service provider across the country have to take time from National Physical Laboratory (NPL). National Physical Laboratory is the official timekeeper of the nation. This is due to the awareness among the people of India about the cyber-security and our preparedness towards cyber-attacks.

Currently, all of us are using Microsoft software and iPhone. These devices are loaded with Windows and iOS platform and the time on these devices are sourced from US-based servers of Network Time Protocol. As per Mr Dinesh K Aswal, Director of National Physical Laboratory, “The time on the devices differs from one second to many as per sourced location. As most of the devices in India are using US-based applications (Windows and iOS etc.) they take time from US-based servers or GPS. GPS is also a US-based technology”.

In current days, there are several attacks happening time to time on any application. As India is moving towards digitalization we using these applications more and more. Due to this, these applications are more vulnerable towards several virus attacks. Be it defence or banking system or any organization where data privacy is an utmost responsibility of government, the government is taking these matter seriously nowadays to safeguard the privacy of people in India. Even a second makes a difference when it comes to online security including cyber and defence security, ATM and online transactions.

Located in Delhi, National Physical Laboratory has precise atomic clocks of two type.

1. Five Caesium clocks

2. One Active Hydrogen Maser Clock from Russia

Unlike a conventional clock, an atomic clock uses the transition of a Caesium atom from one energy level to the next. Whereas conventional clocks depend on quartz crystal vibrations. Around 400 Caesium clocks are available across the world. Currently, National Physical Laboratory owns five such clocks. International Bureau of Weights and Measures is solely responsible for defining the Universal Coordinated time and for averaging the time to make sure the start of each second is same across the world.

Indian Standard time (IST) basically represents the time witnessed across India. This has a time offset of +5.30 from UTC. In IST, we opted out from daylight saving time and other adjustments although we used to use Daylight Saving (DST) during Sino-Indian War of 1962 and during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistan Wars. IST is calculated on basis of 82.5° E longitude, in a place near to Allahabad.

As per India’s Legal Metrology Act, 2009, for implementation of standards of weights and measures, trade based on these measure till date doesn’t recognize Indian Standard time (IST) as the legal time of India as the country.

Some organizations in India are using Indian standard time. Majority of them are like Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Several Banking organization, Several airports across the country and the Air traffic Control. Indian Air force also uses IST generated by National Physical Laboratory (NPL). These organizations are very critical for the security of the country and need to stay secure to avoid any serious risk to our country.

If you take tatkal booking system of Indian railways through IRCTC website you will understand the importance of pushing one time for the nation, so there will be one source of Indian Standard Time. If IRCTC is using Indian Standard time (IST) whereas the phone or system you are using for booking is using network time, the difference of time may lead to sometimes unavailability of tickets when the customer logs in.

We need to put in place adequate infrastructure before amending the Legal Metrology Act to include IST as India’s Standard time.