DC Edit | World leaps past Feb. 29

As the calendar announced an extra day, it was just another day in school, college or office for most that passed off uneventfully though New Zealand motorists may have been left scratching their heads as self-service petrol pumps refused to work. For a world that had crossed the passage into the new millennium without too much of a Y2K glitch, despite suffering fears artificially whipped up like that of aeroplanes falling off the sky, the Leap Day of 2024 seemed an impediment too far in a software glitch, though it was an exception.

The Gregorian calendar is a vast improvement on the Roman one of the Julian era as the earlier one had too many extra months. Of course, India, with its multiplicity of lunisolar calendars, had a bit of ancient wisdom to offer. Take for instance the Tamil calendar, a sidereal solar calendar, which has been, since time immemorial, handling the complexity of aligning with the Earth’s orbit around the Sun — about 365 days plus six hours — with a few months of 32 days and one of 29.

The temporal idiosyncrasy of a Leap Day has held scientific as well as cultural significance to many civilisations, including the Irish one of reversing gender stereotypes with the women allowed to propose to men on that day rather than the traditional vice-versa. Some may even believe a Leap Year is bad luck though cricket administrators are always thought to be leaping with joy as they have an extra day to fit in another T20 into an older calendar of Test match and ODI days.

The ‘Leaplings’, who technically celebrate their relative youth with a real birthday only once in four years, are odd persons out too. Those born on February 29 are estimated to number about five million people among Earth’s population of eight billion plus. A famous one among them was, of course, the former Prime Minister Morarji Desai who made history in his time as the first non-Congress PM of India.

Living to a youthful 99, he saw out an extraordinary 24 leap days and 1,225 full moons, many more than the 1,000 full moons that are supposed to represent a life satisfyingly led. Besides a strange choice in beverages, he had had many things to offer, including a very early dose of economic reforms and a willingness to pursue peace with such dedication that he was honoured with Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, perhaps leading us to believe that ‘Leaplings’ are somewhat different from their brethren from the other 365 days.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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