"National Maritime Day celebrated. New Delhi, Apr 5 (PTI) The week-long celebrations to mark National Maritime day aimed creating awareness about the activities of Indian Shipping industry, also called ''silent service'', culminated today. Every year April 5 is celebrated as the National Maritime day. It was on April 5 in 1919 that the first Indian steamship ''S.S. LOYALTY'' of Scindia Steam Navigation, Mumbai, ventured into international waters on her voyage from Mumbai to London."
Whether that statement repeated every year with minor variations is correct or not is for all of you to judge. All I know is that it is about time something more was done than the usual repeated flag hoisting, badge pinning, one-way seminars and cultural programmes. We have to move with the times, and while it is wonderful that the National Maritime Day Celebrations Committee works hard every year on this, there need to be some fresh inputs. At least, by 2019, and which would mark a hundred years.
Put it this way - sea transport is probably still moving largely at the same speed over water as it was in 1919, most ships even now function best at the 12-18 knot range, barring faster container and similar ships. But the rest of the world, whether in the air, on ground or over the internet - has moved on. By multiples.
So here's what SAILOR TODAY, after talking with some seafarers ashore, would like to see in future National Maritime Day celebrations:-
1) The venue needs to be advertised some more, using social media like facebook and twitter, as well as through the shipping websites. DG Shipping and MMD websites need to carry details in advance on bearing and distance as well as timelines for all events under the NMD celebrations. This is extremely easy, and will cost nothing.
2) The venue itself, atleast in Delhi, needs to be closer to places where public transport is available. IGNOU campus is very pretty, the surroundings are no doubt sylvan, but it takes forever to get there. And once there, the pathetic sight of seeing cadets boarding local "grameen seva" transport to get back is indeed miserable.
3) NMD should also be accompanied by some sort of future job counselling for the young cadets who take the effort to put up the grand show they did. Recruitment seems to be the biggest worry and concern for many of the youngsters heading out to sea, and this event should be used for voluntary work by people who are still at sea to give some frank and cogent as well as practical advice.
4) Efforts by those who volunteered this year should not be trivialised either - but the number of people coming forward should be somehow increased. One way would be to hold regular "open house" functions at
MMD/NOIDA, where new people can be encouraged to take part in NMD celebrations.
5) Some amount of co-operation and co-ordination can always be sought from the Armed Forces, especially Indian Navy and Coast Guard, to make the bond between our Services stronger. Especially in these days of extremely high piracy in and around Indian waters, we need to be able to offer our thanks to them as well as seek better relationships.
6) There is a lot that needs to be improved at MMD and DGS, if we do not want to see it getting wrong exposure of the DGCA sort. Towards that, occasions like the NMD should also be used to improve matters, with introspection and free and frank debate.
7) And finally, it is time that the whole thing on SS LOYALTY moved ahead. Many great steps have been taken by and in the Indian Merchant Navy - and they need to be brought out, documented and most of all - celebrated.
We hope that the people in power will take these suggestions from our readers in the correct spirit, and we hope to have greater and better NMD celebrations in the near future.
To ignore this reality would be doing a great dis-service to the youngsters who put in so much effort for a stellar performance.