India’s Half Hour Time Zone is a Major Pain (And They Are Not Alone)

“There are no half hour zones,” my wife said when I pleaded confusion over UTC+5:30 India Standard Time. It took some convincing before she accepted that a country would do such a thing.

Turns out there are a few areas with half hour time zones:

  • Afghanistan
  • Some regions of Australia
  • India
  • Iran
  • Myanmar
  • Newfoundland (Canada)
  • Sri Lanka
  • Venezuela

Nepal and Chatham Islands (New Zealand) up the ante with 45 minute time zones.

This is my forth trip to India and this time I have been here two weeks and still that 30 minutes keeps tripping me up. I keep trying to find ways to adjust to it as I manage business commitments across the globe. I resort to world clocks and even finger counting, as I struggle to internalize it.

Anyone have any tips for dealing with this?

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  1. Whereabouts in India? Happy to meet a fellow FF and miles/points maniac if you are down south at some stage. Cheers!

  2. If you travel sufficiently, the half hour should be no trouble at all….just remember that India is a fairly wide country which technically should have fallen into two or more time zones but in a newly united country with a multitude of problems, a single time zone is critical to avoid more confusion. Just put it into your head and you can’t go wrong!

  3. At least India is all under one time zone throughout the same year unlike the USA! 😉

    I work with colleagues in India but I’ll admit they’re the ones who normally have to adjust to our work schedule here in NYC since the HQ is here. However, to always remind myself the local time in India, I would subtract 2h30mins from the current time in NYC, and then change PM to AM or AM to PM. Right now it is 3:45pm in NYC, so that means it is 1:15AM in India.

  4. BTW, when I was a kid, I recall asking my parents why the world never cooperated with each other and established 1 time zone. This makes more sense when you’re in the polar regions where it’s always sunny or night time all day/night! Imagine if you’re on the North Pole walking in circles, each step equates to a change in an hour or two. 😉

  5. @VJ – I have been traveling and working in international business my whole career, the time zone works fine within India, but telling myself to add or subtract 30 minutes for teleconference meetings in different times zones, backing out the time for different time zones I am dealing with, I am surprised how hard it has been able to adjust to get it right. Maybe I am already old dog status and this trick is beyond me. To Joey’s point, my colleagues have made sure I am the one to have to deal with the time zone.

  6. I may be in Mumbai or Delhi soon, so let me know your dates in those places, over email. Have you no plans of coming to southern India? I’m based in MAA, hence the question.

  7. a) Indian Standard Time is set to 82.5 longitude (UTC +5.5) so that no part of India is more than 15 degrees longitude (1 hour displacement) from the standard time. The Easternmost point of India is at 97 longitude and the Westernmost point of India is at 68 longtitude. It’s actually a very clean and elegant solution.

    b) I always keep my wristwatch on UTC time and calculate offset from there depending on where in the world I am at any given time. For India, this is very easy. Simply turn your watch upside down and read the small/large hands inversely. You will get IST. :)

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