August, 2006 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

International Shipping, undergoes a surge of scientific and management stream of progressive developments, during this golden age of “Right to information”, transpiring wake up calls calling for commitment, accountable responsibility of the authorities, to ensure transparency in shipping business environment, characterized by increased focus on safety, environmental issues and social responsibility.

We need to solemnlypledge, to take care of the voiceless section of seamen living with unfairness sustaining injustices. “Seamenwhether officers or ratings” their real welfare, need to be looked into, instill their legitimate rights, while they are increasingly leading stressful lives, out at sea and on their return at home.

They need spiritual release and relaxation” Primarily, help them to make their work and living conditions onboard conducive. Let`s be united to help them, to ensure their real welfare, their future of hopes and aspirations, dreams and destiny, for all their sacrifices and risks in their professional life, to care for their family and as well earn foreign exchange to their country. It is not a hunt for treasure, or for a cozy life but for a career and livelihood, but with maximum risks and sacrifices, unlike other professionals, it`s not everybody`s bread. Risk is an inherent part of any activity and while risk can never be totally eliminated, could be well controlled by administration of management. Improving safety, does not occur by chance, but the result of planned actions and qualified decisions through the process cycle of any activity.

In traditional shipping, the emphasis is on conventional thinking (vertical thinking) which is though effective but incomplete in its true sense. Selective thinking type, supplemented with qualities of creative or lateral thinking, helps to restructure insight, which can be learnt, by the application of knowledge earned. One can acquire better skill, by virtue of one`s own initiative and drive, keeping abreast on the subject, with continuous quest for related field knowledge and its application, enhancing job interest (specializing) with sincerity and hard work. “Theory and Practice” needs to go hand in hand for growth, which is inseparable. As much as, vertical thinking immensely being useful, one has to enhance with creativity, to widen and sharpen one`s perception. Lateral thinking is not a substitute for vertical thinking. They are complementary to each other. Vertical thinking though conventional and selective, lateral thinking is the need for onward progressive development. In pursuit of administrative excellence of global standards, by our national shipping administration.

We see, Seamen`s set out, on yet another search, yet another journey and yet another sea line, along a network where all routes are cluttered and where the wait for the future turns out to be just that a wait, long, restless and for most futile, losing good part of their life, out at sea away from their near and dear ones. It is unfortunate, as a marine society and as a maritime nation; we in India tend to shy away from answering their time to time genuine welfare needs. Lack of genuine, provoking national debate, emerging from national to international issues, on international shipping, be it the Indo-US, Indo-EU, SAARC, etc. to relevant topics: Re-Modern Day Pirates, terrorism, directions of the economy or any other keep us going round and round in small circles; same questions confronting us and we keep improvising limited solutions within the small limited same circles; it is merely the manifestation of the condition of the national mind, induced by economy of knowledge. We expect the active and inactive seafarers, to actively participate interacting, exchanging their thoughts with an open mind, bringing the seafarers forum more livelily, encourage enrolling all seafarers into the fold of Seafarers Clubs located in the port regions, for more social meets, resulting in productive interactions, as a more vibrant move and an open page to inter-act during this electronic computer age, towards a comprehensive outlook.

The national maritime administrators need to feel the pulse of stake holders associated directly and indirectly, extend support and cooperation preserving the fruitful outcome on relevant subjective debates as national asset, primarily protecting Indian seamen who are out at sea, bringing in valued foreign-exchange to their country. “Wide Publicity attracting Public Awareness” is the key to successful implementation of welfare schemes with transparency, implement without bias or prejudice, irrespective of caste or creed, religion or race. One needs to assert themselves of their Rights, such as Employment Guarantee Scheme, Right to Information Act. etc.

The need to encourage constructive criticisms, in all spheres of life, with commonality of thoughts, creative partnership of sensibility, would be the seeds of progressive development, if taken in the right spirit and perspective, with basic civic sense of live and let live. Progresses do not just come by its own, it`s a culmination of sincere efforts and hard work to succeed, innovative and creative ideas with an open mind, with certain amount of discipline, dutifulness, dedication etc., considering “work is worship”. Hence, some one needs to initiate and contribute their mite, for others to join (extend cooperation) and pave the way to progress. In regard to competencies of the certified competent person by authorities, needs to be addressed now and then to meet the times, to realign the framework of the disturbed mindset, owing to various reasons, or else the safety of others onboard could be jeopardized . Professionals do get outdated (obsolete), in their respective field of discipline, if they do not keep abreast to the times of development. Hence, not all COC holders whether Master Mariners or Chief Engineer, are all alike. A multi-skill within management needs updates to keep abreast. “It takes pain to gain” One needs to upgrade themselves professionally, for assignments in Maritime Institutions of higher learning. Shortcuts to achieve are not the end of it, for continuance of recognition, by Marine Society.

The hard-earned leave period of a seafarer, after a hard life out at sea considering their separation from near and dear ones, is more a precious time/moments, while he or she counts down their leave period ashore, particularly those in the prime of their youth. It`s high time; the nation recognises seafarer`s contribution, in earning foreign exchange to the country, on their working in hazardous zones, unlike others availing the common community benefits and privileges enjoyed ashore. They (seamen) are deprived of their citizen`s right of voting while out at sea, for which their welfare need not be neglected. The Office of the Directorate General Shipping, should arrange to assure sailors ashore, a time frame for the various documentation process services rendered by the Mercantile Marine Department, similar to the time frame arrived and displayed in public sector banks, for banking services. Seafarers have all along exhibited, to be more disciplined with utmost patience and hence do not grumble for not finding agencies to ease-up their work ashore, unlike found in many motor vehicle licensing offices, registration offices etc. within the cities, moreover while many of the seafarers residing in far of places, from MMD offices.

There are presently huge gaps between the actual conditions out at sea, as against the discussions and decisions made by policy making bodies, re-competencies of the certified competent, Gandhian approaches to what seen, heard or said and what actually goes on, out at sea. Incidents/ Accidents going unreported. The actual seafaring conditions vary, which mostly depend upon the crowd (floating staff members onboard), more particularly the senior officers, constituting two senior heads of the navigation and engineering branch, who are contracted to deviate from the standard norms of accepted good practices. Hence, practitioners` viewpoint, missing from legislative process.

Chief Engineers (Marine), don`t have nor need a separate association, unlike the Master Mariners, for their identity, the engineering feat is far more wide and universal. “Chief Engineer”; is an entity in the organizational set-up of hierarchy, referred ashore as Marine / Mechanical / Shipyard Engineer, Engineer Surveyor, Consulting Engineer etc. The technical and/or Management acumen, speaks off the individual`s experience, his knowledge, contribution in technical and/or management society. It would have been more appropriate to re-name the “Master Mariners Association” as “Navigating Marine Officers Association” in line with the Marine Engineers Institution / Association ( I. Mar. E. ). An association representing members` interests, forming a bonafide specialized trade association, fully representing the needs of national and global shipping management sector.

Dr. Chandran Peechulli,
Ph.D; MBA; D.Sc; FIE(India), PgDIMS(UK), PgTED; FIIPE; MSEI; MSNAME(USA),
Ex.Chief Engineer(Marine), G.M.(Tech) Crossworld Shipping.
Managing Editor & Publisher-“MARINE WAVES” International Maritime Newsletter.

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