April, 2005 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

NATIONAL MARITIME DAY (5th April each year) celebrated, to commemorate the sailing of the first Indian steamship”Loyalty”on April 5, 1919 from Bombay (Mumbai) to London. This day observed as the national maritime day since 1964.Mr.D.T.Joseph, Shipping Secretary, known to all in the shipping and the relevant media that he is exceptionally involved with greater sense of commitment and dedication, on a strong vision and foothold to make INDIA-a Maritime Destination.

Visualising from reliable feedbacks from State Maritime Boards, Ship owners, Chamber of Commerce-Shipping, Steamer/Port Agents Assoc. Seamen`s/Officer`s Union/Assoc. representatives and the rest of the stakeholders. His approach towards building strong Indian shipping is credible to the nation. A committed and dedicated bureaucrat of the IAS cadre to make the real difference during his tenure, evincing interest and initiative with far sighted vision and an open mind accepting the best, with plans full ahead for implementation.Our commercial maritime tradition dates back to the founding of our nation and it continues to play an important role today,moving passengers and freight, protecting our freedom and linking our citizens to the world. Today women and men of Indian Merchant Marine and thousands of other workers in our nations maritime industry continues to make immeasurable contributions to our economic strength and our ongoing efforts to build a more peaceful world.

The need of the hour is to evolve a strategy, to integrate national maritime security, actively involving Indian Navy, Coast Guard and the Police and Administrative authorities of the coastal region, so that the Ports, Ships, Seafarers and the environment is fully protected. The Shipping Company (Employer), is to protect the interest of their own employees (sailors) who work for them,as a welfare measure and legal obligation primarily for their safety, health and environment, in particular while the vessel manning is unrealistically squeezed up and more documentation work is to be done, as the present saying goes “No work is complete as long as the documentation is complete”. If anybody onboard is sick or injured, the job needs to be shared with increased fatigue.Every man onboard (seaman) therefore needs to be committed, perform their duty/role efficiently, and work as a team, avoiding any split within whatsoever. Work and live to high morale for out at sea limitations, to meet eventualities in the most efficient manner. Forming splits within the sailing team, with diversified thoughts or victimising anybody onboard is a grave crime. The need for thoughtfully and humanely worked out decisions, for a congenial living and working conditions out at sea. Drawing out from my experiences out at sea and shore management however self-conscientious and seriously focussed on the job onboard, the need to socialise for survival or else the individual is victimised by the within politicised group. The same needs to be contained for the well-being of all on-board which the ship management fails to realise and gets into trouble at same stage.

Since, India is emerging as a major player in the world maritime sector, it is imperative that proper quality training to seafarers are imparted with consistency, to meet the time to time changing needs. The need for a regulatory watchdog, on maritime institutes, regional maritime administrations etc., to ensure consistency in the quality of training imparted? Fair examinations conducted etc. qualified trainers with adequate subject knowledge, placed as faculty members, ensuring the listed faculty members are duly qualified with experience on Merchant Navy vessels of Indian or foreign flag for a commercial approach and not that the requirement is met in the faculty list of approved institutions, while they keep sailing out at sea in practical sense, for lucrative earnings to meet the lavish living of their family members, which they are used to, out of their sacrifice and risks out at deep seas.Retired Defence officers` placement considered appropriate in the maritime institutions, administrative reasons to instil discipline to trainees by conducting physical training and drill, share thoughts on ship`s security arrangement.

The Shipping Ministry and the autonomous body UPSC of the nation to ensure, only the best of the mariners (Chief Engineers and Captains) are inducted into the department, if not the best of the best. The bureaucrats receive the best of training in administration, goes beyond doubt that they spend their administrative duties including sensitive assignments. The naval force sends their senior officers to various staff colleges in India and abroad, during their service period. Officers in the merchant navy,engaged in ship owning/management operations worldwide are guilty for not being given the appropriate management training, unless equipping themselves on their own initiative, hence the inability to attract the right people to perform specialists task in shore management offices but for performing secretarial tasks in corporate office.

The old timers(Merchant Navy Captains) were not updated, unlike in rganised/regulated establishments but for their own limitations of poor educational background during career entry(generally matriculates/non-matriculates), limited therefore to their practical experience in operation and maintenance onboard and fluency in working English. It is therefore quite unfair to blindly induct them into maritime institutions, with their poor academic background as faculty heads and Directors. Only those Captains (M.N.), who had the quest for learning and keeping to the times enriching on their subjects with updates qualify themselves, eligible for induction as instructors/ demonstrators/ lecturers into academic institutions(place of sanctity)for learning and teaching. It is therefore unfair to blindly accept all the ornamental `Captain` title holders, who qualified with the set paper system or through,off the shelf certificates pertaining to Open Registries-Flags of Conveniences. Strengths and strategies be re-assessed inconsultation with veterans in the professional field of rich sea-service. Its high time, the syllabuses of Navigating Officers/Engineers COC, are to graduation level and Captain/Chief Engineers to Masters level, with coverage of all relevant subjects. We need wise and matured decisions be taken by the Chief Engineer and Master out at sea, which is at the cost of seamen`s precious lives, not to rule with ill-conceived knowledge but with widened thoughts and open mind to excel. The Union Human Resources Development Ministry must take the initiative to get the UGC, the AICTE and the association of maritime colleges/institutions together to agree on a common format/umbrella. The time has indeed come to step up the level of monitoring and regulation to ensure consistency in quality of taught marine subjects.

Filipino Seafarers remittances are up by 12.9% bringing to $1.46 billion (about 80 billion pesos), where do we Indian seafarers stand in the revenue earned for our nation. Statistical clarity and transparency in this regard needed. However, we have abundant manpower and skill to spare in this area. How is this great potential being tapped? Every year many students pass out with various degrees and diplomas, from various Colleges/Universities but not all can find employment. While that is the case, why not generate more trained Indian seafarers by enhancing the capacity with more liberalisation that would generate more revenue to the country, meeting the global shortage of marine manpower in shipping.

Shipping is to provide a safe, reliable, efficient and economic service, can be achieved through specialised professionalism and backed with theory and practice with continued emphasis on quality improvement. Human resources development to compete with the global challenges lies in providing quality and cost-effective shipping services. I am confident that our maritime system can meet the inter national challenges, a viable maritime network will help our country “INDIA”not only to compete in our global economy but for leading the way for other maritime nations to follow. The need for greater competition and efficiency in shipping, through policies suiting the times and enforcement mechanism, that is non-discretionary, transparent and effective.

Dr. Chandran Peechulli,
Ex.Chief Engineer(Marine), G.M.(Tech) Crossworld Shipping.
Managing Editor & Publisher-“MARINE WAVES” International Maritime Newsletter.

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