This year once again we are observing our 53rd National Maritime day. We do take legitimate pride in having developed our foreign shipping, coastal shipping and Inland water transport. We also take this opportunity to review our performance vis-à-vis Ship building and repairs ( including dry docking). Our off shore capabilities have developed but there is reported shortage of dredgers. We consider all these points during this week.
Maritime education, training and performance of DG Shipping and private marine colleges also attract our attention, together with seamen’s welfare and their employability. Progress on all these fronts should make us happy but a lot more needs to be achieved within a short span of time.
We have such a long coast line, a national carrier in SCI and organization like INSA but we do not have a decent sized passenger ship under Indian flag. This is a major shortcoming and we must try to resolve this issue at the earliest. Our ship building and repair capabilities are not yet fully developed and we still take our ships to China for dry docking. India lacks sufficient trained manpower for which we must seek foreign assistance from countries like Ukraine, Norway, Japan and Phillipines etc; and employ their technicians to impart training to our boys and girls. In DG approved colleges there is no proper faculty and we must seek assistance from shipping companies to provide the requisite faculty from their pool of officers during vacation. Last year, I made a plea to involve Classification societies in training effort, but minimal progress has been achieved thus far. There is a need for better interaction between Marine colleges and Marine industry ( including equipment manufacturers) but the colleges don’t seem interested as also the DG Shipping.
The theme for this year is ease of doing business in marine field. This is a legitimate subject but any one can say that unless you start working, talk of “ ease” is rather meaningless. Get up and start doing things and then you can find solution for problems and you will experience the ease. Unless you start doing things, nothing will happen e.g. unless you begin to build ( or contract to build) a passenger ship , how can people help you to ease your effort. After the loss of M.V. Chidambaram we as a nation have failed to build and operate an equivalent ship. Therefore, let us work towards achieving this objective.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)