November, 2009 – Editor`s Page

*Click here to download the entire editorial

From the Editor`s Desk

He who regards the world as he does the fortune of his own body can govern the world. He who loves the world as he does his own body, can be entrusted with the world … Tao Te Ching

Out of compassion for them, I dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance…Bhagavad Gita 10.11

Are Indian policy makers listening? Though, helping and guiding with feedbacks, by our monthly editorial content in exposing defects and deficiencies in the system of actual working, in mercantile marine department, for improvement and seafarers welfare, consequently towards national development ?

MARITIME EDUCATION: Any one may get disappointed and sometimes confused over the way the Indian maritime educational system functions. For eg. All the 40 students, of the 1st year B.Tech Marine Engg. Students failed, none passed in a DG Approved Maritime Institution. Parents were all upset for their son`s career and for educational loan availed. The regulation body having been set up, legislation being enacted, plan being envisaged from time to time, question remains as to why such grave defects and deficiencies prevail even after the Government of India implements periodical changes. Monitoring mechanism of the maritime institutions remains a major concern, for effective functioning, quality assurance and accreditation procedures. Accreditation system is absurdly poor. A license permit Raj by the statutory bodies without teeth`s prevailed without knowing the needs and procedures of the institutions and stakeholders. Course fees vary from institution to institution, at least the student`s parent or guardian should know as to why course-fee collected is high besides hidden expenditures, why there is no reasonable check for regulation etc. My point is that, as to why the whole system of monitoring, accreditation and regulation is poor.

Herein, I am referring to the apex organizations, like National Knowledge Commission (NKC) New Delhi, HRD and Shipping Ministry, Councils and commissions at national level like UGC, NCTE, DEC and many others. Why regulations are being changed very often, why not the ministry of education formulate, its legislations with a good foresight, well planned with relevant data in hand, to maintain reasonably good standard and quality? Why not introduce open and distance learning *especially for seafarers to minimize the loss of their man days ashore while on their hard-earned leave, supposedly to spend with their family members (close and near dear ones), after their long separation, working out on the deep seas. Why not an independent body which is acceptable to all. Appreciable to know now that the Ministry is granting powers to Distance Education Council (DEC) to monitor and regulate the system of open learning and on the same issue, the ministry is planning to set up national level Distance education regulator in the country to maintain and monitor the standards of open and distance learning in the country, by which seafarers need to be also benefited. Appreciable that National Knowledge Commission, has recommended the formulation of Independent Regulatory Authority on Higher Education (IRAHE). Secondly, the union cabinet very recently announced HRD ministry`s proposed legislation (distance education bill) to set up Independent regulatory body at national level. In reality, there is a mismatch among the country`s policy makers and other people in governance to regulate the whole system.

Some people who are in governance but not in the system don`t want to replace the existing system and some who are not in the system are favoring the immediate legislations, replacement and amendments in the existing laws. The country is lacking regulated colleges and universities. If private colleges are providing a poor quality of education, collecting more fees etc. who is to be held responsible? Multiple regulatory agencies exist for different streams of education in the country. Technical education is regulated by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). It is the authority that licenses technical institutions. The AICTE has constituted another body, the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), to certify quality of technical institutions. Medical education is regulated by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and nursing education by the Nursing Council of India. These institutions look after, all aspects of education in their spheres including quality. All the regulatory agencies have been set up by the Central Government. The blame for the mushrooming of poor quality institutions and their concentration in a few areas must squarely rest with the regulatory bodies. Is professional education at higher level being commercialized? Or is this really a License raj being perpetuated by the accreditation agencies? This question needs to be answered. we must change the accreditation process, procedure of accreditation viz a viz monitoring. Greater transparency is an unstoppable force and is the very foundation of justice. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.

A good system needs to be ninety percent self managed with hardly five percent as conscious effort needing monitoring for consistency of the desired quality, as the margin of reflection to proving capabilities, instead of a monotonous style of functioning, limiting to selected good suggestions and not keeping to the times. The specialist tends to neglect themselves, their health and comfort, in the pursuit of their perfection, which is reminded on humane angle. “A study on the Work and Family life of Seafarers”, their responsibilities while out at sea, viewing limitations and constraints, the attributes in the making, for their varying mindset, from global experience is lacking international exposure. A tale of systemic neglect, administrative incompetence has been challenged, which is an unfortunate incident to the department.

The need for Union Public Service Commission, to pick up the best amongst the new breed of mariners (who had their basics right), with the recognized C. O. C. of India/ UK Class One Engineering/ Masters (Deck), such of those young men between the age of 35 and 45, who are theoretically and practically rich, who never compares their govt. salary earnings at later stage, with those working out at sea on hazardous work, to get corrupted. Such of those Incumbents is groomed into the department in line with the civil services, match with a strong mental frame work and follow up with a pragmatic approach. Let`s demonstrate something different, to work much better in the Maritime World of Commercial Shipping. We need qualified Mariners as practitioner specialists, with a lien to academics; to work in DGS approved Maritime Institutions/ Colleges, play an important role in shaping the destiny of this maritime nation. Their CDC`s and COC have to be marked/stamped – “Finished with Sea Duty”, for assignment in Maritime Colleges/Institutions only. The existing scenario in maritime institutions, engaging old timers` professionally-under graduate mariners`, many of them academically matriculate/non-matriculates(those outdated risen from the ranks) though may be professionally certified, which is for the operation and maintenance of vessels only, which should not be forgotten. Such of those cannot be justified to head Colleges of higher learning in Maritime Studies, but for PRO work, Marketing, Demonstrators, etc. in the application of marine equipments, navigation etc. U G C (University Grants Commission) and the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) need to look into this seriously. It is imperative for tutor to update their knowledge and skill, constantly improve and upgrade, thus to impart well.

In Merchant Navy (second line of Defence), we need to train physically and mentally fit candidates with Character, to sail overseas in the International Shipping, thereby carrying the good image of our nation. Such of those candidates, successfully completing professional Training and qualifying COC for officer entry, need to be of a degree level curriculum of a recognized University. Life out at sea is not a bed of roses, hence the real need for its preparedness, managing the hard work and mental stress. Doing so, will help them come back with fresh new ideas, with better approach of matured decisions, tackling systematically and confidently, ensuring quick turn around of the vessels, with time-bound productive quality work out at sea, with professional excellence. National maritime Administrators backed with mariners, of trade apprenticeship, with Certified COC, following set paper exam., few years of sailing without professional updates doing documentation work alone in office, will do no good to national shipping but for sending them on VRS.

Dr. Chandran Peechulli,
Ex.Chief Engineer(Marine), G.M.(Tech) Crossworld Shipping.
Managing Editor & Publisher-“MARINE WAVES” International Maritime Newsletter. * view highlights and back issues of editorial contents, to convince you all about what “Marine Waves” does to the society`s well-being, as a member of the Humanist Party of India.

*Click down to download the entire editorial