The simplest solution will be to change working hours by advancing it to 0700 hours and ending the workday at 1530 hours, so that the entire working hours are during daylight hours, writes Amb Sarvajit Chakravarti (retd) for South Asia Monitor
South Asia is blessed by long hours of daily sunshine, unlike in more temperate climes where daylight hours have large seasonal variations. Unfortunately, about five hours of this free source of light and energy is largely wasted, both by our slow pace of adoption of solar energy as well as our current official working hours from 0900-1700 hours approximately.. Consequently, efficiency and productivity both suffer as workers must commute in the rising heat of the day, using inefficient public transport inadequate for the traffic volume,arriving frazzled at work and needing time to settle down to concentrate upon their daily tasks. The employers are, therefore, short-changed by having to use a workforce at sub-optimal efficiency, the rising costs of which are passed on to the consumer.
South Asia, unfortunately, does not adequately value its manhours and little account is kept of the value thus lost in productive inefficiency as well as transport delays and waits for services, especially public services. In addition, there is the rising power cost of providing lighting, ventilation and cooling facilities. Simple made savings in this area could add to GDP significantly.As IST is calculated from a meridian in the centre of India, the eastern parts are actually losing more daylight hours.
The simplest solution will be to change working hours by advancing it to 0700 hours and ending the workday at 1530 hours, so that the entire working hours are during daylight hours. This will significantly reduce energy bills,make commutes more comfortable and enable dual use of public spaces and buildings to increase our education levels as well as industrial and economic output. Many of our schools begin their workday as early as 0530 am to run at least two shifts of students. So it will be no great hardship and also improve health levels by providing time in the afternoon for sports and other activities for the entire population.
Having longer afterwork hours in the day will also stimulate the retail, service,tourism and hospitality sectors as well as permit extended hours for industrial and other economic activity.The extra revenue generated by added economic growth may enable the government to improve basic services such as educational literacy and numeracy, primary healthcare and other citizen focussed services and more nearly match public expectations of service delivery.
Early to rise and early, possibly, to bed will surely make us healthy and wealthy, even it it does not make everybody wise.
(The author is a retired Indian ambassador. Views are personal)