October, 2006 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

Shipping is one of the essential lifelines for any maritime nation, while INDIA fortunately has a long coastline. In view of the rapid surge of scientific developments, more particularly high speed information technology, resulted in increased global competition and downsizing, with less job security. For sustenance, the need to keep to times. Modern ships are technologically advanced, equipped with sophisticated equipments, which demands highly trained, qualified men to man them.

“There are so many shades of grey, so many uncertainties, so many areas where things can go wrong onboard a ship” Even the qualified and trained men, can go wrong at times, that is even when they being over-confident, neglecting seriousness to their commitment. Seafaring is not a place to take chances, which is my advice to the young budding navigating officers and marine engineers. They need to religiously follow the work-process with vigil, alertness and activeness.They need to be well trained, trustworthy, reliable, committed and responsible. Remember, there is always scope for improvement, in all sphere of life. Egoistic style of functioning is detrimental but for the required discipline for the smooth functioning of the ships-operation, by one and all onboard. Lapse on the part of the crew manning, can also ruin the cargo, voyage or the ship as a whole…fatigue management? Harmful exhaust emissions, safeguarding the seas from pollutants etc.

Shipping regulators to highlight “Safety in business” and not by “compromising safety of the seafarers, in cutting their cost, to please the shipping companies. Manning need to be realistically viewed with a pragmatic approach, to meet exigencies as well. How many of the mariners in the Dept. trained in Industrial Engineering, Time and Motion study, Ergonomics etc. while shipping is a service industry, to realistically arrive on true manning? Pressures mount on the seafarers to work beyond normal working hours, Misbehavior, threat coercion have become features onboard. Accommodation found unhealthy, food unhygienic and adulterated, contaminated drinking water, Lacks proper medical facilities and essential medicines termed mandatory, not made available onboard. A seafarer, in the permanent role of SCI (Shipping Corpn. Of India Ltd;) was thrown out of service, like a fish out of water, for no fault of his, but for medical disability-B.P. hyper-tension. Even after a decade neither the PF/Gratuity is paid to him, nor a legitimate final settlement of accounts made in order, nor VRS considered? Shipping Department, Govt. of India, been and continue to be a passive onlooker. Provision of a social safety net ? Where is the employment guarantee in the Govt. of India enterprise, after being recruited on an all India advertisement entry ? “Marine Waves” demand a re-think on the credibility of the mariners inducted into the national shipping administration, by the nations UPSC., an autonomous body. Officials posted in the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD), of the Directorate General of Shipping, need to be committed and dedicated officials, who are alive to the reality of the situation, of ships in port and out at sea, getting totally involved, concentrating on safety, in the living and workplace allied safety issues, to reduce death, injury and disease. The need for inducting better qualified dedicated marine professionals. Ref: Feb.2005 issue editorial www.themarinewaves.com UPSC to widely publicise and attract the best.Such participation would instill timely awakening amongst the floating officers and ratings, towards job consciousness and accident prevention, also drastically reduce the number of deaths, injuries and diseases onboard. This sort of attitudinal change would boost the morale of the seafarers and increase business productivity, by quick turnaround.

In the shore-based establishments, Employers have the moral and legal obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety (Plant) Regulations to assess and control risk and also formulate and provide the requisite training and skill information on the safe use of the plant to the user. Why at all entertain such sub-standard class vessels` entry into Indian ports, by encouraging them? Why not collect data of out at sea incidents, track and hold stock of the situation, and expose them? Necessary changes for implementation of the best are a necessity for acceptance, if to keep to the times. The increased and growing needs, makes more vessels on the move in the oceans. While the seafarers, could hardly get together and voice their grievances, leaving to obligations of so called unelected unions ashore. National shipping administration, need to encourage seafarers feedback and interact for timely corrective action, in the interest of their citizens` governance. Its high time to form a DATA BANK, of out at sea incidents, for timely corrective action, avoiding repeated occurrence of similar nature. Look into complaints and suggestions, encouraging feedback, impart knowledge from lessons learned, more interactions will produce better and quick results, sharing out at sea experience.

The Central Board for Workers Education— Ministry of Labour, Govt.of India, established on 16th September 1958, publishes quarterly journals which contains standard articles on Trade Unionism, Industrial Relations, Labour Economics, Tools and Techniques of Education, Productivity etc. in English and Hindi language. The workers are taken on educational tours to outstation industries and sight-seeing etc. Why not for the maritime labour sector, under the Ministry of Shipping? Why this section of Indian citizens, neglected by the government of India ? Is it a curse for these ratings to keep working and earning foreign-exchange for the nation, while their welfare is neglected?

Distance training involves earning the requisite knowledge without going to a campus or physically taking classes rom an instructor. The almost popular character of length education programs is online length training. Online training lass materials are accessed via the Internet. Ship induction training through e-learning prior to posting on vessel and CD`s provided onboard, would ease up the situation, in the subject of early familiarisation or induction training. Instruction and reliance on the labeling of controls can be counteracted by responses, learnt through past experiences nd in-depth study of the pros and cons of the situation. Learning and assessment for certificates, to work onboard he vessel, in the prescribed occupations were in the form of vocational education and training, the need to facilitate those desirous of pursuing higher studies (academic/research) in the country. Computer based studies be encouraged ringing the class lectures to a bare minimum, with due consideration of seafarers` hard-earned leave, TIME- period f the seafarers ashore. It`s high time, national maritime administration introduces and implements application of e-learning to seafarers, as optional/alternative mode of study, wherever feasible. This would allow the seafarers to e more with their close and dear ones while ashore on their hard earned leave.

Dr. Chandran Peechulli,
Ex.Chief Engineer(Marine), G.M.(Tech) Crossworld Shipping.
Managing Editor & Publisher-“MARINE WAVES” International Maritime Newsletter.

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