Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Vietnam before going to China. His visit will help promote better relations and trade with this gallant nation. This visit is the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 15 years. He announced a new line of credit of $500 million for Vietnam to facilitate deeper defence cooperation. India and Vietnam share legitimate concern about China’s growing military clout. Here is an example of how a nation can build itself by working sincerely and silently. Vietnam shipping is picking up and their crew are receiving training to compete in the international market. Their port development is also noteworthy. We are to emphasize our relations on basis of positivity and not any counter balancing vis-à-vis China. That will create animosity and will not be very helpful. There must be lot of sea borne trade between Vietnam and India.
India must also enhance trade with Myanmar. There are lot of infrastructural projects that both the nations can jointly undertake. Myanmar crew has been sailing on ships with Indians and others for quite some time now. Since competition will increase hence it is necessary that we must impart training to our officers and rate them according to merit. Sadly, we are not doing enough on this in a manner that enhances skills of our seafarers and promotes their health and stamina. The DG Shipping must pay attention to this issue to ensure that meaningful and useful training is being imparted in marine colleges. I have been teaching at such colleges for some months and I am yet to meet any surveyor from the DG Shipping. Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari must take a note of this. He should pay a surprise visit to such colleges whenever he finds time. Writing to DG Shipping is meaningless as they simply turn a blind eye towards this issue.
India must also boost trade with Sri Lanka. Plenty of sailing vessels used to operate between Tuticorin and Colombo. I am inclined to believe that same situation exists or has even improved. There was a time when we used to stop ship close to Dondra Head lighthouse and pick up vegetables, fruits and fish in exchange for empty drums etc. Now this task is prohibited due to TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme). Colombo had been a bunkering port for long and transshipment hub for containers. It is reported that India is developing such a port down south, which will become quite popular. Our working efficiency must improve. India must seek assistance of expert trainers from countries like Japan, Norway, Russia etc; to improve the quality of its work force. We still take our ships for repairs and dry docking to China simply because it is much cheaper and faster with highly skilled workforce. I always enjoyed visiting Chinese bars after work. Work hard and then enjoy that is life. Follow this principle.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)