Indian shipping has reached a crucial juncture where the country’s security is in danger of being compromised in the event of any hostility occurring. The country loses over ten billion dollars annually to foreign shipping lines which carry 92% of India’s international trade. Indian shipping companies prefer to set up subsidiaries abroad to stay afloat.
These are some of the issues to be brought into focus at the forthcoming mega event - INMARCO INAvation 2010 which is being hosted for the first time jointly by the Institute of Marine Engineers (India), and the Institution of Naval Architects. This International Technology Conference and Exhibition likely to be inaugurated by the Vice President of India, M. Hamid Ansari will take place from 9 to 11 December, 2010 at the NCPA, Mumbai where representatives from every sector of the shipping industry from all maritime nations of the world are set to converge.
Briefing the press, the organizers informed that they see this forum also an opportunity to create awareness about the near total lack of support from the government. Shipping is not getting its fair share of importance they pointed out even though it is said “But for shipping, half the world would freeze and the other half would starve.”
V. Kumar, Managing Director of Bharati Shipyard Ltd, President of the Institute of Naval Architects (India) and organizing committee member said, “Delhi is too far away from the sea to understand the role of shipping,” (referring to the Central government which governs from far off Delhi far from the coast). When subsidy was given to ship building from 2002 to 2007 there were orders for 223 ships. After it was withdrawn the number of orders has crashed to just 19. In other countries ship builders get extensive support. When orders got cancelled the Chinese government asked their ship builders to continue with their building activity because the government promised to buy the vessels. China has also set aside $ 1 billion to help Greek ship owners to have their ship built in China. Here in India, we are asking government support only in the initial stages.”
Talking about the threat India faced, Umesh C Grover, Chairman of the Organizing Committee said, “The fact that only 8.8% of India’s foreign trade is carried by Indian ships can put India in grave danger if some war broke out. During the Iran - Iraq war no foreign vessel was willing to bring cargo from the Middle East to India. India took a neutral stand during the war as we had good relations with both the countries. The situation would be very perilous if something like that happens again.”
Already 65 stalls have been booked and nearly 1000 delegates from all over the world are expected. Support for the event has been pouring from various quarters by way of sponsors, promoters, etc. and around $ 1 million has been budgeted for the event.
The theme of INMARCO being "Opportunities, Challenges & Innovations" will feature technical papers on all important issues. The 40 technical papers received so far six are on marine engineering, eight on naval architecture, ship design, ship building and repairs; five on offshore technology, five on environment and 21 on shipping operations, law, finance, policies and classification.