September, 2008 – Editor`s Page

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From the Editor`s Desk

My valued readers would know that World Maritime Day is celebrated all over the world, more particularly those bounded by the sea, during this month. The current year 2008 contains a number of key milestones and anniversaries for IMO: 6 March was the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the IMO Convention, by a conference held in Geneva in 1948, under the auspices of the United Nations; 17 March was the 50th anniversary of that Convention entering into force in 1958; and June, saw the 100th meeting of the IMO Council, the executive organ of IMO, which is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the Organization in between successive sessions of the latter. IMO – originally known as the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO – held its first meeting in London in 1959.

The purposes of the Organization, as summarized by Article 1(a) of its constitutive Convention, are “to provide machinery for co-operation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships”.

The need for an international agency for shipping, stems from the fact that shipping is perhaps the most international of all the world`s global industries. The ownership and management chain surrounding any particular vessel can embrace many different countries; it is not unusual to find that the owners, operators, shippers, charterers, insurers and the classification society, not to mention the officers and crew, are all of different nationalities and that none of these is from the country whose flag flies at the ship`s stern. And, shipping`s prime physical assets – the ships themselves – move permanently between countries and between different jurisdictions; hence the need for universal standards that can be applied to and recognized by all.

Shipping is also an inherently dangerous occupation, with ships having to confront the worst calamities that the elements can throw at them. Sometimes, disaster strikes – as witnessed by high-profile incidents of the type involving ships such as the Torrey Canyon, Exxon Valdez, Estonia, Erika and Prestige. There is, therefore, an over-arching logic in favour of a framework of international standards to regulate shipping. Without internationally recognized and accepted standards, you might have the ludicrous situation that a ship leaves country, A bound with cargo for country B, fully compliant with country A`s requirements for ship design, construction, equipment, manning and operation, only to find that country B has its own, different requirements. Clearly there has to be a common approach, so that ships can ply their trade around the world and that countries receiving foreign ships can be confident that, in accepting them, they do not place their own safety, security and environmental integrity at an unreasonable risk.

After 60 years of India`s independence (1947), my year of birth as well, we could not put the Shipping and Maritime industry in the right perspective. Who is to be blamed? The situation demands an explanation. I would personally place it squarely on the Planning Commission than blaming from the grass roots. Out of the total fund allocation for public transportation, the shipping & port sector received a mere 6% in comparison with the railways which received 56%, roads 32%, aviation sector 6% and balance other sectors. On the one hand, it is proudly claimed and rightly so that 95% of the country`s exim trade is by sea transportation and on the other, the government does not bother to give any priority to such a large volume of international trade by sea. Does it require a brave soul to answer this query, during this RTI age of transparency? There is a lack of initiative and motivation from those entrusted with the responsibility to perform, the need for Public, Private Participation in the national interest on international business earning foreign-exchange. The need for an awakening, with the national spirit to achieve better, as it is known from TOI Chennai edition dated 13th Sept.2008, of the 75 Vice Chancellors invited for the Vice Chancellors Conference held in Pondicherry of which, 35 responded, 25 attended. Noticing such a scenario, few have quietly left the venue by afternoon on Friday. The organizers therefore cut short the three day event and conducted the valedictory on Friday itself instead of Saturday. This was the sorry state of affairs causing concern to all.

A professional`s love to one`s profession, builds anxiety to know more and more, in theory and practice and be well informed, keeping abreast within the respective and associated field thus ACT right, to reach a stage of creative and innovative learning and thinking (thought process), to transform the best into one`s own practice, to better the situation, thus the intellects integrate producing the right and better results. Research is another area of emphasis to bring in quality output, whether it is in manufacturing or in services. Most of the Maritime Institutions/Academies are facing an acute faculty crunch. It appears there is no proper mechanism to check, evaluate the number of faculty available to represent the actual scenario, as there is all likelihood for the mariner faculty to be listed but remain on sailing full-time or make in-betweens short sea-sailing and such of those have a mindset of little interest in teaching. The frame-work of the mind, need to be set to a given discipline to specialize. Could the nation afford to rest the entire issue to the ill-conceived mariners in the department doing desk-job for planning and deciding the required infra-structure, rather than inviting joint participation, consult specialized consultancy for specialized jobs? Private-Public Participation, for transparency and efficiency, keeping pace with the advanced technology and systems. HR Management in dealing with the neglected seafarers, viewing their welfare while active and after service benefits, as in shore in acquiring, motivating and retaining them with attractive benefits since they are handicapped to get-together and voice themselves.

The imperative need for active web-groups, functioning to streamline the topics for Debates and Discussions. Sincerely wish the seafarers all the best in life, be the most enlightened lot, be blessed with good health, for all the risks and sacrifices owing to the mobility in their profession.

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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