March, 2008 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

“The stress factor” for seafarers, is on the increase all the time, working and living out at sea, separated from their near and dear ones,” on account of the quick turnaround of vessels and the unrealistic squeezed manning, favouring the ship managers/owners, with vested interests, at the cost of the seafarers, who are over- worked, owing to no substitute in case of exigencies, either when one falls sick or when injured. On unregulated F O C vessels, the service conditions are still worse.

During this modern age, Indian shipping needs really qualified, physically and mentally strong men, to work efficiently onboard, who are duty-conscious, active and alert, dedicated and committed to their profession, not those influential and lethargic sleeping passengers, to carry out their duties diligently earning good name to them and as well as to their nation, while representing overseas on ocean going vessels. Salary/wages paid to seafarers, with occupational hazards, for the timely stressful service, which is without pension or any terminal benefits.

Such of those veterans (ship-owners/managers, superintendents, surveyors, faculty members, consultants and rest of the shore-based staff) who play active role with long rich experience out at sea, to interact, guide and help, to ensure best performance in shipping, which includes superintendence, logistics, corporate administration, above all the mariners in national shipping administration, primarily need to have a humanistic touch, for the active seafarers out at sea, earning foreign exchange to their country of origin. Laws can’t be superior to individual rights, liberty and dignity, nor law content have loopholes to inflict further injury of injustice, to the innocent in the society. There is no place for criminals, tail wagging idiots, corrupt and nincompoops having no ability to deliver. Society can’t bear them and their expenses. Lay down “fair policy and the best practices”, for overall performance. Primarily they need to be more abreast, in the relevant field of specialization as a true authority and never short-sightedly release notices or circulars and later withdraw them, this is not the age for trial and errors, generating confusions. The need therefore to constantly oversee and monitor, accelerated planning, scheduling, executing and managing, and to be more sincere and honest to their profession.

If irregularities, pointed-out in a system, the same needs to be fairly looked into and taken in a sporting spirit by admitting ones defect or deficiencies, instead a professional MMD authority, who tries to camouflage them, playing cheap-politics, by asking the maritime institutions/academies not to patronize a particular person or press, such act of victimization be condemned, in a democratic society. If a true and thorough professional, he/she: needs to professionally challenge, with a competitive edge or arrange for corrective action as err is human. One should prove his superiority/credibility/worth by his matured actions. Hence, short-sighted, indifferent and selfish attitude of the mariner-bureaucrat in the Mercantile Marine Department be condemned. If a particular institution is yielding, to such pressures from M M D official, it tantamount to serious weakness in the overall process cycle, the Administrative Reforms Committee, Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, should take serious note, in the interest of the nation. Office of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner & Comptroller and Auditor General of India, need to also look into this. There should not be any delay to adapt to pertinent changes, for meeting to the present times.

The unreasonable formalities, causes harassment and humiliation, during seafarers short stay ashore, instead of limiting to the critical and functional needs, on relevant subjects. It is experienced that such of those egoistic mariners shout at the height of their voice, misbehaving with the seafarers who call at MMD, basically its not officer like qualities. All this bad experience, owing to unworthy mariners inducted into the shipping directorate ( those with less sea service nor with specialized qualification for the position held ) and kept in par with the cream of national talents for public administration (IAS). It is high time “Seafarers legitimate rights and privileges” be attended courteously.

•I have had earlier voiced for the meaningless differentiation amongst C.D.C. as HT and FG, CDC’S but for their placement, limiting to harbour-crafts, country boats, fishing vessels etc.

• STCW/TOTA courses: What is the logic behind exemption of courses to Mariners, in the Directorate General of shipping, exempting them while in service, while others also hold similar activity based Certificate Of Competence, for operation and maintenance of vessels (ships). Why thrust upon the seafarer’s, availing their precious money, time and efforts. Wherever, they could also study through self-reading. In fact, they should set a role model, for them first, to lead. Retired officials from the Directorate should be prohibited to take shelter in Maritime Institutions/Academies, to deal with equivalent or lower in cadre to the post last held buy them.

•Was there an answer to my e-mail, expressing unfair, illogical pay scales in the name of non promotional categories in Indian Shipping vide e-mail of 31st Oct.2007,10:13:57 IST. No where in world shipping. On the other hand engineer victimized in Govt. of India enterprise- Shipping Corporation of India. Justice?

• The need, for a Code of Moral Ethics. A receptionist or authorized staff needs to attend to seafarers calling for MMD services, unlike the security guard be told to say Deck or Engine side, will not be attended for the day.

• Only authorized staff (list to be displayed) those officially posted in MMD Chennai; need to attend to seafarers, or else they act like middle-men and invite corruption. Seafarers on active sea service have enough job to do while they are ashore on their hard earned leave period, while joining their family i.e. renewal of passport, their vehicle driving license, CDC, attending courses of ‘revalidation of certificates’, etc. etc. All the seafarers are not staying near MMD office, most of the seafarers come from far off, and are on their own for boarding and lodging, and they are not accommodated in seafarers club for want of room, since allotted under influence. Seafarer’s time ashore, need to be valued, during the five day week operations, since during the beginning and end of week, permissions and leave are availed very often by MMD staff and in addition public holidays. Hence, one should view the genuine grievances of seafarers who call at Mercantile Marine Department and not being neglected. Last but least, the consideration of “A Livelihood support scheme” for retired seamen, who have all along during their service fetched, considerable foreign exchange to national exchequer?

• What was the level of teaching imparted and veracity of those tutors approved for TOTA class? Approved by marine surveyors in office of DGS, Was that not illogical? While in academic studies we have Montessori teacher, TCH, B.Ed; M.Ed; NET, M.Phil etc., let this be said at least in the website.

• The Human Element must be alleviated by reality study with a pragmatic approach to innovation, to keep up the morale of our se amen/seafarers at the highest level, to be more productive and carry the best image of our nation overseas. We could do much better, with induction of dedicated committed mariners doing away with the sleeping inactive lot, by sending them on VRS. The need for a proactive approach to create professionals who can predict and plan for what may happen and ho can also implement fast and successful countermeasures if and when a sudden crisis occurs. To do this, requires the introduction of necessary infrastructural changes and financial models, plus crucially improved Human Resources Management.

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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