Marine Engineers’ Convention on overcoming economic meltdown
At the two-day convention of marine engineers the focus was on resolving impediments which obstruct progress of the maritime sector
It is incredible that the two-day 26th National Convention of Marine Engineers finally took place in Mumbai, (Navi Mumbai to be exact) over the past weekend on 22 and 23 September 2012. It is in fact the first time in several years that Mumbai was selected as the venue of this convention. But the choice of the venue proved to be a boon as it saw a fabulous turnout with representatives of every sector of the maritime trade turning up - the who’s who of the marine trade was in attendance.
Held under the aegis of Marine Engineering Division Board, The Institution of Engineers (India), which is one of the oldest trade organizations in the country with its roots way back into 1920 - during the days of the British Raj - this mega establishment and their associates had eventually decided on holding the event after several years in this metropolis, which serves as the maritime business center.
The organizers of the convention were The Institution of Engineers (India) Belapur Local Centre, Navi Mumbai (IEI) and The Institute of Marine Engineers (India) Mumbai Branch & Navi Mumbai Chapter - IME(I). They invited the newly appointed Prof G Raghuram as Vice Chancellor of the Indian Maritime University to grace the occasion as the chief guest.
According to Subrat Mukherjee, Secretary IME(I) Navi Mumbai Chapter, who was the main inspiration in coordinating and organizing the event remarked that the event drew one of the largest gatherings of marine engineers in the city in recent times, as some of the heartburning issues were deliberated upon at the forum under the theme “Economic Melt Down - Overcoming, Effects on the Maritime Industry”.
He also stated that the reason for selecting this theme is that over the past three years, there has been a dramatic melt-down in the world economy affecting international trade and consequently, the maritime industry. To overcome this downward trend on the global economy and maritime industry, IEI need the support of not only the government but also from all the stake-holders with positive long term and short term measures, without the international free-trade falling prey to protectionism.
“Under these circumstances, this convention dealt with the maritime industry as a whole, and shipping in particular, on matters pertaining to technology, financial systems, human resources, regulatory measures, environment and safety for overcoming the shrinkage of the global economy,” Subrat Mukherjee said.
To put it succinctly there was a lot of soul searching and proposals made to resolve the vexing issues threatening to derail various sectors of the maritime industry. In his welcome address, Anil Rao the convener of the convention pointed out that, “A good period which is considered good for growth was also responsible for future slump. Whilst there is no subsidy for ship repairs and getting licenses was frustrating, engineers make ship repairs happen everywhere but in India.”
Dr. K. Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of IEI touched upon the government maritime agenda and the investment required for tripling the cargo throughput of Indian ports by 2020 which can happen through public private partnership. Hence, all this hinged on private players taking on a major role. He desired that marine engineers turn their attention to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and help explore and exploit the offshore resources for the benefit of the nation. “We marine engineers need to rise to the occasion and explore the offshore wealth in order to make the maritime sector competitive,” he said.
Appealing to the chief guest Prof G Raghuram, President of IME (I), Dr. B. K. Saxena requested that the IMU introduce value added courses on the same lines as in the U.K.
Giving a brief insight into the cyclic nature of shipping trade and the gap between supply and demand that was affecting the trade A. K. Gupta, Director (T & OS) of the Shipping Corporation of India, the guest of honor, asked fellow marine engineers to turn their focus on the last mile transport which was important to bring down the cost of shipping goods. In this regard he also spoke about development of fuel efficient engines and the need to make the maritime trade more competitive.
P. K. Jha, M. D. of MSC Shipmanagement Ltd., who was also guest of honor, remarked that the operating costs have gone up mainly due to various regulations having come in. “Today, the challenge is to survive the recessionary climate and at the same time continue to grow without sacrificing quality standards and safety. In this regard MSC has introduced various initiatives to enhance safety and quality of service,” he said.
In his presidential address, Prof Raghuram observed that India had plenty of talent and resources. He contended that India needs to unlock the value of its maritime sector. “International trends affect India’s own growth,” he said. “Unless India unlocks the huge potential it has, it will not be possible for the country to take the present crisis in its stride.”