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  • Shriya Malhotra

IST and plurality of times


Most towns in India retained their own local time until after the introduction of the railways in the 1850s, when the need for a unified time zone became apparent. IST can thus be seen as a direct product of British colonization. And the cultural lateness of IST by extension can be also understood as a form of resistance-- both to notions of colonial and capitalist enslavement.


Indian Standard Time is calculated from the clock tower in Mirzapur, UP on the reference longitude of IST at 82°30'E, within 4 angular minutes. The time serves as a way of unifying the entire country.


Time, as a cultural construct mediated by plurality and a quest for efficiency also seemingly has its military roots. India opted out of observing daylight saving time, (DST) or other seasonal adjustments, although it did briefly use DST during the Sino–Indian War of 1962 and the Indo–Pakistani Wars of 1965 and 1971.


These examples make credible the arguments that not only is time not standard or linear, but in fact is entirely an illusion and extremely culturally and individually subjective. The things that are on time were introduced or adopted. It may be the case that being on time in India is very un-Indian. Similarly, in Argentina lateness is a badge of cultural pride. Indians' general cultural disregard for being "on time" or rigid about temporal constructs stands in sharp contrast with colonial legacies of time, extended into social life through a myriad of institutions. From standardized exams, to train departures, to lunch breaks -- time in an indian context often seems to be more a suggestion than a reality.


I think one of my projects will be to make a calendar about Indian Standard Time and the seasonally recurring public health crises faced in the city i live in. Im still unclear about what posthuman or transhuman ohilosophy is, but in the realms of moving towards a future where machines and AI mediate so called improvements in the world, i think this calendar and potential clock concerter could be a useful tool.


more IST info: https://www.insightsonindia.com/world-geography/physical-geography-of-the-world/origin-and-evolution-of-universe-solar-system/local-and-standard-time-and-the-international-date-line/indian-standard-time/

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