December, 2010 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

“A truthful criticism of public servants in public good was so vital, for the functioning of democracy and the truth was the defence in this case.” ……M.K. Gandhi

Success in today`s business environment requires the organization to integrate, build, and support, business process with an enterprise that views risk probabilities and compliance to the best arrived quality standard. These requirements have made the implementation of governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) software a vital step towards achieving business success. Summing-up, I find myself totally under-whelmed, on many maritime related issues, particularly those relevant to Seafarer`s Health, Safety and Security related welfare measures. Viewing the progress and challenges ahead on seafarer`s welfare, this area remains only in subjective text document and hence seafarer`s-welfare, barely being looked into, but being neglected. If the real needy seafarers have an insight into the funds being utilised in the name of seafarer`s welfare, they would find it very disgusting, scratching their head as to what an injustice is going- on, reflecting upon our national maritime administration. Prospects for improvement in seafarer`s welfare didn`t appear to be much better, since the mariners inducted into the office of the D.G.S., were more interested to compensate their own losses of being ashore, when comparing to their counter-parts paid attractive sea-wages, not realising that the seafarers are performing hazardous jobs out at sea, selfishly wishes to have butter on both sides of the bread, spoiling the lips exposes them, makes life easy. Never realises, that their induction into the government class one cadre, were not of a competitive nature, unlike other entries into UPSC Class One post. Mostly consisted `junk of under-graduates`. The able, honest, qualified active sailing mariners could not compromise for a government job owing to their family commitment, mainly having got used to hi-fi lifestyle, and not opting severe fall in living standards by earnings. Many technically qualified and experienced mariners still continues to sail, many opted to vessel superintendence and faculty positions. It is regretted to note, the mariners inducted into government-service are more egoistic and indifferent, to their own community of seafarers, doing more harm, owing to their drastic social-uplift comparing themselves to the bureaucrats who made their hard way, having easily forgotten running behind the fitters, helmsmen, seamen etc. to accomplish their responsibility onboard owing to squeezed-manning. There are many pathetic-stories heard of the harassment and humiliation meted out by the active seafarers, when facing the MMD staff, for relevant services. Instead, wish they focus upon many other important areas, for which they exist with more commitment and better responsibility, for the coveted post held by them, in strengthening risk management for safety and security. They need to focus upon the realities of superintendence, co-ordinate and inter-act for out at sea affairs, as a strategy to help the policy makers to make wise-decisions, in assessing risks, allocating resources and acting under conditions of uncertainty i.e. “strong intelligence gathering approach”, efforts to minimise the holding up of Indian vessels in foreign-ports etc.

Need, qualified specialised HR personnel, to be inducted to oversee the services rendered to the seafarers, in a fair and just manner, more-importantly valuing their hard-earned time ashore with their family, realising that they are paid only while away from their near and dear ones, out at sea, moreover earning foreignexchange to the country of origin. Re-calling my memories of late seventies, we had once `Principal Seamen`s Welfare Officer`, in the office of the D.G.S., Bombay. It is not known, as to why such indispensable-post was abolished (which cuts-off the valuable feedbacks of out at sea affairs) and now we have been left with only one Seaman`s Welfare officer, who was in MMD Chennai, shunted to Kolkata, Kochi and now back to Chennai. Instead a Seamen`s welfare officer, need to be posted at least in each major port, for the seamen to vent their grievances, whose genuine voices be heard without bias & prejudice. Corporate Social Responsibilities have become an important mantra of this age, a measure of an organisation`s willingness to take proper account of the health, safety and welfare of its employees. But we are also aware of the fact that these responsibilities are shared between direct employers and by all those who have an interest in the proceedings – the `stakeholders`, as they have become identified. The Shipping Companies operating foreign-going vessels, have failed in not coming forward together, to form a consortium to combat “PIRACY” Why? While, `it is Employer`s primary duty to protect their employees, at work`. Issue 23 of the International Human Element Bulletin Alert! Considers these shared responsibilities, demonstrates convincingly that all these links in the chain of responsibility are important, and need to be considered. Safe, Sustainable and dependable shipping depends upon all those interests considering their own contribution to the end result. It is not of much use, the operations department doing their job, if they are being undermined by the financial rug being pulled from under them, or the owners` efforts being hazarded by ignorant or unscrupulous charterers. There is tough talking in this issue of Alert! From contributors like Lloyd`s Register`s Richard Sadler, who suggests that those at the top,have an obligation to improve the social conditions of seafarers? High time we should recognise, a lot more than producing some nice words of lip-service. We need to reasonably look for a more socially responsible attitude towards the human element. We have to accept that we need to lobby on behalf of the bedrock of our industry-the seafarer-especially in this, the IMO`s Year of the Seafarer, to prevent mistreatment, but for simply lip-service.

A Case-Study in the general interest (“of an unspoken truth”). Mr. G.Kamaleswaran, holding CDC No. 36181, goes on record that injustice meted out in MMD Chennai earlier, during the conversion of SGED COC to NCV Grade, wherein those who could grease the palms of the MMD staff at Chennai, got their conversion to NCV Class III Certificate of Competency easily, considering even their fishing vessel experience whereas Mr. G. Kamaleswaran, offered the lower Cert. NCV Class IV Certificate of Competency(95T-0326),with his vast rich experience, on larger FG vessels, of higher capacity. He had raised this issue of injustice with the Office of the Directorate General Shipping, also quoting Dr. P. Mishra`s letter(then Dy. Chief Surveyor)under Ref: Eng/Exam-17(13)/89 dated the 1st June 1999, wherein “Fishing Vessel COC have not been equated for eligibility”, in the manning of Coastal vessels employed in Indian Coast. Adding prior to this, Engineer & Ship Surveyor, Mr.G. R. Ahuja of MMD Bombay, vide his Letter ED(S)/15/5112 dated 9th Aug.1982, has clearly indicated that sea-service performed on fishing vessels is not assessable for Sea-Going Engine Driver (Motor) Exam. Hence, Surveyor`s within the DGS, were of different views and acted to their whims and fancies, without applying the standard norms of good working practice, lacking fairness, transparency and accountability, all this because, Seafarers could not assert themselves but keep digesting the harassment and humiliation meted out by MMD officials, who easily say, that “sea-service is under verification subject to confirmation”, even turn-down orally by the subordinate staff, who practically makes the assessment/ evaluation. By which, their further productive sea-service is lost, simultaneously loss of foreign exchange to the G.O.I.`s exchequer, which is never realised. Alas,Shri Gangadharan Kamaleswaran got justice, vide Office of DGS Letter, through Engineer&Ship Surveyor, D.Mehrotra`s Ltr. Eng/Exam-15(8)/2002 dated 26th Aug.2004, which approved eligibility for NCV Class III COC. But the precious time lost, was ever lost. All at the mercy of the Shipping Regulatory-Mechanism in practice. Lacks pragmatic approach.

Now this time, Shri. Gangadharan Kamaleswaran is detained at home (ashore) from sailing, since his papers held-up by MMD Chennai, owing to ill-conceived notion for renewal of COC and DC endorsement, though fully complying and qualifying the requirement during this IMO`s Year of the Seafarer. This veteran sailor, held ashore from serving out at sea and earning for his family, wasting his valuable productive time. For reasons: Surveyor views SERVICE CONDITIONS. Why not sailed on NCV vessels? This is an unfair and illogical approach. Shipping management finds him more competent, it`s employer`s acceptance known from years of his practically rich service and not by few minutes of MMD Examiner`s magic-wand and short-sighted conclusion(a viva-voce)deciding his competency, but the Ship Management finding him proved, highly-experienced on larger capacity vessels? Had successfully under-gone DG Approved revalidation- course as well. Wasn`t his credibility? Not all Indian NCV COC holders certified by MMD Examiners find eligibility to serve on ocean-going vessels? Exceptions, be looked into the merit of each case.

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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