Daily News 📰 Analysis Geography

Why countries are in fall back mode as Daylight Saving Time ends

In News:

  • Clocks in the US will “fall back” an hour on Sunday (1st November), signalling the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) this year.
  • In Europe, the same happened on October 25.

In Focus: Daylight saving time (DST):

  • During the summer months, the sun stays visible for a longer time and sunset happens late in the day – there is an extra hour of daylight in the evening.
  • Daylight saving time (or referred to as Summer Time in Europe) is the practice by some countries of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that in the evening hours day light is experienced later, while sacrificing normal sunrise times.
  • The idea behind DST is to make better use of daylight. 
  • In the autumn/winter, as the days begin to become shorter and nights longer, the clocks are again set back by one hour signalling the end of DST or Summer time. In effect, it transfers an hour of daylight from evening to morning, when it is assumed to be of greater use to most people.

How it came into being:

  • New Zealander George Hudson is said to have proposed the modern idea of daylight saving in 1895.
  • By some accounts, a group of Canadians in Port Arthur (Ontario) were the first to adopt the practice in 1908 .
  • Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first implementation, starting on 30 April 1916, during World War I. Several European countries dropped it after the War ended in 1918. The practice returned again during the energy crises of the 1970s.
  • Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.


  • People and governments of many countries are not happy with the requirement of changing time of clocks twice a year.
  • Considering the way the way modern societies work, there are grave doubts that DST actually saves much energy.
  • Some studies have also found health risks as people lose an hour of sleep while advancing the clocks.

Many countries could end the practice soon:

  • In fact, the European Parliament has voted to scrap DST, and starting 2021, the member states of the EU will choose between having a “permanent summertime” or “permanent wintertime”.
  • Those who choose the former will reset their clocks for the last time in March 2021; those who choose the latter would do so in October 2021.
  • In the US, the changing of clocks is the subject of a debate every year, and a large number of people protest against the practice.

Indian does not follow DST:

  • India does not follow daylight saving time, even though there are large parts of the country where winter days are shorter.
  • Daylight Saving Time was observed briefly during the Sino-Indian war in 1962 and the Indo-Pakistani wars in 1965 and 1971 respectively, so that energy consumption by civilians would be reduced.
  • In fact, tea gardens in Assam start work at 8am, continuing a practice started during the colonial rule. This timing is so widespread that it is nick-named “Bagaan Timing” or the tea garden time. In effect, tea gardens in Assam follow their own informal time zone.

News Summary:

  • Over 70 countries on various dates follow daylight saving time.
  • Countries around the equator (in Africa, South America, and southeast Asia) do not usually follow DST; there isn’t much variation in the daylight they receive round the year in any case.
  • Dates for this switch, which happens twice a year (in the spring and autumn), are decided beforehand.
  • Because the spring-to-fall cycle is opposite in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, DST lasts from March to October/November in Europe and the US, and from September/October to April in New Zealand and Australia.

Northern Hemisphere:

  • Europe:
    • Clocks in Europe went back an hour on 25th October, signalling the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) this year.
    • By law, the 28 member states of the European Union switch together — moving forward on the last Sunday of March and falling back on the last Sunday in October. 
    • The time difference with Britain will now be five and a half hours (as would be all year had there been no DST concept).
  • US:
    • Clocks will go back an hour in the United States this year on November 1.
    • In the US, clocks go back on the first Sunday of November.
    • This means for example, the time difference between New York and India will increase from the current nine and a half hours to ten and a half hours (as would be all year had there been no DST concept).

Southern Hemisphere:

  • In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite happens and the clocks are moved forward.
  • Clocks have gone ahead by an hour — in New Zealand, on September 27 (last Sunday of September), and in all states of Australia that have the practice of daylight saving (not all do), on October 4 (first Sunday of October).

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