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Friday, 1 April 2011

Anti-Piracy - what do YOU want??

Ok, so one has been attending a few seminars and conferences on the issue of piracy, mainly one-way gab-fests which don't merit even a passing mention - since they seem to be monopolised by people who are not necessarily old but are certainly behind times in their approaches to reality. For example, the BIGGEST flaw in these seminars and conferenes is that the actual seafarer on the frontline of piracy does not have a simple voice.

In addition, there are these meetings and discussions held at various levels in governance, the notes and reports on which come out partially in the media a few days later and on the RTI boards after some time - when they aren't "leaked" by assorted interested parties. As of now, barring some rapid steps taken by the Indian Navy when they were finally given the brief, the rest is of not much real good. Oh yes, the Foreign Ministry diplomats are doing a good job too, somewhere, but that's always under wraps, till wikileaks brings those out.

In a way, that's good - the anti-piracy movement ashore could do with some more discretion too. But that's as long as there IS an anti-piracy movement. Which, even if it is, does not seem to be filtering down to the seafarers on the ships.

As a result, courtesy the rapid evolution of social media onboard, natural progression to the way it has moved ashore - some of us who have been more than vocal on the subject are receiving inputs from seafarers who would otherwise not have a voice. Even this, cloaked behind earnest requests for anonymity, is rare. But it seems to be growing.

Here are some examples;-

1) Facebook seems to have a few groups on the subject already, some are open to all, some are closed and some are by invitation. Once in, the discussions are fairly controlled, but the message gets across - there seems to be no shortage of people who will not go into the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean piracy impacted areas in a hurry. However, poverty worldwide being what it is, reality and truth is that there are others willing to go in too.

2) On Indian seafarers, I have seen a rise in the statistics on my blog and articles pertaining to piracy, on this blog and elsewhere. Even older articles are being read, and re-read - and then distributed further or linked ahead. That feels good, too.

3) Most importantly, I have to word this carefully, assume a scenario (like in orals . . .) where I have also had access to a few email messages to the effect that - we or my spouse/son are on such-and-such ship which is heading into the piracy area, we have not got any anti-piracy measures on board other than fire hose and some barbed wire, we do not want to sail but the owners/managers are telling us they will give us a DR and play around with our wages. On top of that, the ship is in terrible shape and there are rumours that the owner has sold it, taken huge insurance and is now purposely moving into an insurance game.

And so, I have sent such and such photos and such and such scanned documents to such and such person, and if something happens to me then please make sure they are published but only if something bad really happens to me.

What would you do in my place, dear reader?


The power of social media can not and should not be under estimated by the regulators, owners, operators, classification societies, flag states, port states and everybody else involved.

Views invited.

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