D.S.T in the developing world

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As the loadshedding was spiraling out of control in this country, on May 20th some genius came up with a bright idea and rushed to present it to our trusted leaders!  What followed has been quite interesting…

His/Her idea: the whole country push the clocks ahead one hour, and everything will be ‘bal-lay, bal-lay’ (that is like saying ‘smooth-sailing’ in punjabi).  Desperate for solutions, after a quick meeting of top advisors, the leaders of this country decided the idea was so great that they implement daylight savings as of June 1st.

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The above is my version of what happened…because I found out about the whole DST idea a week before June 1st.  Today, 18 days after the implementation of DST, people are still confused… when you set a meeting with someone, the first question is: ‘Is that 3pm old time or new time’ .  Just yesterday I had a meeting with someone at the site at 2pm, he called me at 2:45 to check if the meeting was still on…. ‘Yeah, I have been waiting for almost an hour, buddy!’.  He responded, ‘Oops, I am still functioning on the old time, I thought you were too, I am on my way…’

The muslim daily prayer schedule is dictated by the position of the sun, so we pray 1)just before sunrise, 2)just after mid day, 3)when the shadow (of an object) is two shadow lengths, 4) at sunset, 5) one hour after sunset–with the passage of time, there was no need to track the position of the sun, and using clocks was an easy substitute.  Many muslims (including clergy) have forgotten that the time is dictated by the sun, not by clocks!!  So, now, many people have refused to change their clocks because they think DST is a conspiracy of the West to mess up muslim prayer timings.  Regardless of what time it is on the clock, you are going to pray when the sun hits that position!Funny stuff when you hear people get all worked up over it. 

And finally it hit me when I tried to set a time up with a rural real estate agent who does a lot of business but is completely illiterate.  When I told him that we can meet at 7pm, he replied, ‘old time or new’…Fed up, I said, ‘There is NO old time, that is done, what are you talking about, there is only one time’….he took a deep breath and sincerely said, ‘Man, this whole time thing has really got me confused, i just can’t keep up’….sounded really funny, but was a reality.

 In the developed world, the concept of DST has been successfully institutionalized for many reasons, I suppose.  Two of those reasons, based on my recent experience, are literacy and awareness.  The government needed to realize how significant of an impact this could have if carried out properly, plan in advance, and educate people–for a successful transition.  When half of the country has refused to comply fully, by carrying on business hours as before, etc–the exercise was futile.

PS-the Pak government has tried DST before and failed!

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2 Responses to “D.S.T in the developing world”

  1. John Tucker Says:

    I have never been in a conversation about time zones that was not at least a little bit confusing to someone.

  2. Mohsin Hamid’s stories of Pakistan « Sasha Dichter’s Blog Says:

    […] are rising (Pakistan recently shifted clocks forward an hour in an effort to save energy, and Acumen Fund Fellow Jawad Aslam’s take on this is not to be missed) and, with rising prices, tension is also rising, especially in the cities. Meanwhile, under the […]

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