December, 2005 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

Following the Indian Ocean tsunami, “a tragedy that felt like an act of wrath from a vengeful God”, people wondered as to how to square up their religious faith with Tsunami prayers, Our minds and thought, first traveled to the village of Laem Pom in southern Thailand, where every house was destroyed and 50 of the 150 residents were killed or disappeared. This multi-faith, religious meet of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians of whom all were victims of the devastation without any discrimination, but all of them were united in grief, despite differing beliefs, “similar to seafarers of multi-faith, living and working together onboard the vessels (ships) in harmony”.

One needs to pause and think, Why such an unfair meet of participation, in a politicized manner, organized with shortsightedness, conducted by Rev.Fr? Anthony Baliswamy with his followers of Stella Marris, Chennai, majority of whom were nonmariners, seafarers not adequately represented, hence without the real exposure on Seafarers lives out at sea, more particularly for an international seminar on “Seafarers Welfare” by ICSW during 14~16 Nov.2005, at GRT Grand Chennai, which needed wider publicity, didn`t even appear in the city engagements of daily newspapers. Stakeholders in the said seminar for seafarer`s welfare need not necessarily be Christian origin, while seafaring community ( a mix of caste, creed and religion ) needs `humanistic approach`. Hence, it exhibited, lack of open-mindedness, non-transparency in the dealings and placement of wrong personnel without the right aptitude, causing concern to one and all.

“Human dignity” is the foundation of all rights. Every individual has the right to live and lead a life with self-dignity, self-respect and freedom, towards peaceful co-existence with religious tolerance. This simplicity in thoughts should come with humanity from the heart. Respect and Recognition for the rights of others, are the best safeguards for one`s own true of individuals, groups, communities and nations. Fullness of human life means enjoyment of human rights in our daily lives. While, ” the Seafarers, lead a unique human life of sacrifices, spending most of their precious lifetimes out at sea, consequence of which they suffer at the later ages, for their own resettlement, without any after service benefits” though they bring pride and foreignexchange to their nation. “They can never be truly compensated in their lives, if represented by any Tom, Dick or Hardy, who do not know of the real lives of the seamen”, to view their welfare.

Such a professional seminar of international standing, needed wide publicity amongst seafarers and should not only constitute active seasoned professionals as invitees, BUT they be encouraged to actively participate with relevant papers, enabling competent professionals to interact and make the seminar a grand success, which would enable the members representing the international bodies (ICSW, ILO, ITF etc.) to carry back effective constructive feedback and not merely as a leisure trip to the sub- continent, maintaining the decency and decorum of the high office they represent, fulfilling the objectives and goals of the organization.

The Shipping Ministry needs to develop a more coherent policy, towards the regulation of the social conditions of seafarers, act speedily and urgently in due consideration of the growing global sea borne trade, increasing global shortage of skilled seafarers, greater pressure for safer and more environmentally sensitive operations, hence the demand for quality officers will further intensify. The potential scarcity of skilled seafarers presents consequences for marine safety infrastructure. Maritime experience is essential in many safety-critical posts, such as marine pilots, vessel traffic services, ship inspection and surveying, salvage, coastguards, casualty investigation and harbormasters. – Virtually every aspect of modern life today depends on maritime transport – from the oil supplies that run our cars to electronic goods. Safe and efficient shipping services need skilled and experienced seafarers, which could be exploited by our nation with rigorous maritime training and controls over the merits in issue of Certificates of Competency. Without ships and without the seafarers to man them, the world would have been a very different place wrote Winston Churchill, when he noted the vital role of the Merchant Navy during the Second World War. Shipping has been crucial to the economic and strategic well being of our nation throughout history. In turn, seafaring knowledge and expertise has helped to shape the fortunes of many countries in war and in peace. Virtually every aspect of modern life today depends on maritime transport.

The blind support by the non-mariners backed by organizer Fr.Anthony, is obvious with vested interests. No right thinking seafarer would agree, that a short cruise experience of a passenger or a PRIEST from the main land to the islands and back, would suffice to be equated with the WORKING life of a seafarer onboard, OR by merely attending STCW courses quoted by one of his staunch supporter, which is stupendous.

Religious leaders need to discuss philosophical and spiritual perspectives of decent work. Examining as to how the different religions can come up with new ideas relating to the “Bringing people from different religious backgrounds together to discuss a common concern, like the Decent Work Agenda of ILO, a means to know each other better which can be a powerful tool against religious intolerance and fundamentalism”.

We seafarers need to build-up a task force, of true seafaring professionals, to spring into action during disasters and serve as a blue print of action plan. Seafarer`s rights need to be fully protected by churning out new concepts with a holistic vision, uncompromising emphasis on ethics. Surge ahead with realism and truth with professional and human touch for relief and rehabilitation of the old aged seafarers, with seafarer centric approach.

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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