For ship captains returning home from long bouts at seas, the Company of Master Mariners of India (CMMI) has been organizing regular events providing excellent opportunities to come together and share some wonderful moments in a spirit of camaraderie. Recently, it organized the popular Maritime Spectrum that aptly profiled what is at the heart of Indian seafarers. During this event lot of interest was generated resulting in several Indian master mariners from various parts of the globe converging in Mumbai to attend the function.
This time the program included a seminar that focused on important current issues followed by a panel discussion. Capt John Menezes, CEO of Ericson & Richards, gave a very candid and pragmatic assessment on the “Seafaring Incoming Decade – Challenges, Opportunities & the Way Ahead”. He explained how the seafarers were getting alienated slowly by problems such as criminalization and piracy. He cautioned about the possibility of the demand for Indian seafarers getting watered down and other nationalities moving ahead in line. “You need to build on your relationship and build on network,” he advised.
Giving a historical background on the type of fuel and their usage for propelling ships as well as the trend that has been in existence, M. V. Ramamurthy, President of Institute of Marine Engineers of India gave a vivid depiction of what the “Future of Marine Fuels” would be. He gave an account of the effect of sulphur, carbon dioxide and NOX and their effect on the environment, operation of engines, demand and what the controls that exist for regulating them. He stated, “It may be possible to reduce emission from fossil fuels to a large extent by supplementing the fossil fuel energy by other sources of energies like solar power, hydrogen fuel cells, etc., and additional reduction could also be possible through hull design, engine and propeller efficiency,” .
With regard the “Antifouling Convention” Meghan Manjarekar gave an account of the Anti-Fouling Paint Convention as adopted by the International Maritime Organisation and the reason for the great concern the world body had against the usage of certain fouling agents in the paint. He also dealt with the future technologies that would come into play to ensure harmful agents were not used which cause harm to fish and other sea life.
The panel discussion on “Gainful employment of Trainees” however failed to find a lasting solution to the problem. Capt M. M. Saggi, Nautical Advisor to the Government of India pointed out that there were a number of training institutes that have come up. Private institute owners who have invested a lot in setting up the institute were more concerned about filling up the seats and getting their returns on investments. “Employment has been made a secondary issue,” he said.
Capt C. P. Athaide representing Indian National Shipowners Association and also Executive Director of SCI said, “There is a mismatch between training and employment. There was Dufferin and Rajendra yet SCI itself went ahead with its training program. We produce more seafarers than what is required by SCI because we want to fill up the gap between supply and demand. Though finding gainful employment was important but today having quality seafarers was more important to ship owners.
Capt B. K. Jha representing FOSMA stated that the difference in salary drawn by Indian seafarers and Europeans was slightly different. But Indian seafarers were found to be more hardworking, more qualified and intelligent. However, if the Indian seafarers did not get a promotion within 12 months he would chose to leave the company and go elsewhere.
Ms Naomi Rewari of ARI and representing Training institutes informed that she saw change in the employment situation as far as Indian seafarers were concerned. “I have find cadets finding placement easily.” She further stated, “The DNS program of one year for our cadets should be made into 3 year program.”
Mr. Pooran Chugani of BES commented that education and training was like a runaway train. “We have training institutes being created and norms being put in place, yet quality is not being created. We need to have a dynamic approach in testing cadets who go out of training institutes. We should allow the system to adjust itself. Some institutes which don’t comply with the norms set up by the Directorate General of Shipping are still running.”