(In the present scenario prevailing in the marine institutes generally
and with regards to the cadets coming out of those institutes, all the
significant stakeholders of the marine industry have expressed grave concern
over the quality of training given to the cadets in these institutes. It is
said the shipping industry does not seem to look in favour of the marine cadets
from these institutes since quality appears to have been compromised on
different levels beginning from recruiting faculty to teach to the very fact of
evaluation system which does not seem to have gained unconditional
international merit. Many experienced senior mariners and captains like Captain
Pankaj Bhargava( who contributes to ‘Marine Insight’ comprehensively on marine
issues ) have repeatedly pointed out the decline in the quality of marine
training provided here and now.
In the same line, another very
senior seafarer Mr.K.R.A. Narasiah, former Vice-President, RL Institute of
Nautical Sciences, and one of the senior
most Marine Engineers actively involved in various Maritime related activities,
writes on marine training in a popular media.)
many discussions at the recently held World Shipping Forum meet in Chennai, a pertinent issue was the status of marine training in India today.
remember that we would never have had a training ship, but for Sir P S Sivaswami Iyer (1864-1946),
a statesman who was the advocate general of Madras from 1907 to 1911. In the
first session of the reformed central legislative assembly on January 12, 1922,
Iyer moved a resolution to constitute a committee to investigate possibilities
of promoting the formation of an Indian mercantile marine. The resolution was
adopted in which there was a point "for the establishment of a nautical
college in Indian waters for the purpose of training the executive officers and
engineers of ships".
A committee headed by Captain E J Headlam,
appointed on February 3, 1923 stressed the need for
a "training school for deck and engine room staff and the conversion of
the Royal Indian Marine Troopship Dufferin for that purpose". As no action
was taken, Aiyar, on March 19, 1926 moved another resolution that emphasised on
the creation of an Indian mercantile marine, training Indians, introducing
marine engineering in selected institutions and introducing licensing for
coastal trade. After much persuasion, training ship Dufferin was commissioned
in December 1927. But, although Indians were trained along with British, they
were not hired by shipping companies. By 1936, only 25 Indian cadets were
employed by British companies in India. A ship fully manned by Indians was
possible only in 1950 when S S Jalagopal of Scindias sailed into Singapore on
October 12, under the command of an Indian captain.
These struggles seem futile when one looks at
the ailing training system today. Though the Indian Maritime University with
seven training centres in India was established in Chennai, the ills of
training and placement haunt the Indian mariner. Mushrooming of institutes all
over the country seems to have reduced the quality of training. "Foreign
companies which earlier preferred Indian officers are now hesitant to hire them
as they feel the training is not good enough" says an expert. There are 38
training centres in south India alone, which churns mariners in numbers, making
Reputed training centres have their own woes.
"Why should the D G of shipping have all the control over training? We
need a separate directorate for maritime education and training" says
senior member Dr R Lakshmipathy, chairman, R L Institute of Nautical Sciences, Madurai and Publisher of
Sagar Sandesh, Maritime tabloid English Weekly e-paper.
The Merchant Shipping Bill 2016, introduced in
the Lok Sabha recently also seeks to rectify some of the ills, especially to
monitor the training system and certification. Some trainers feel that training
should be transferred from the bureaucracy to a directorate devoted to the
purpose. Paradoxically, there is both a dearth of well-trained officers and a
surplus of unemployed mariners. Recently a premier shipping company said that
well-trained mariners were running away to serve on foreign ships. If quick
action is not taken, the future may be bleak for marine training in the country.
After completing a very long and cherished service with Indian Navy,
Narasiah joined Merchant Navy. He successfully completed First class
Certificate of Competency (CoC) both in Steam & Motor. He was the first marine engineer to take over
the position of Chief Mechanical Engineer with Visakhapatnam Port Trust.
He is also a great writer and an orator both in English & in
Tamil, related to Maritime development in India.
He has been involved as Academic Council Member of various Maritime
He is blessed with
two sons, one a Merchant Navy Captain & the other an Automobile Engineer.