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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Another view on helping people impacted by maritime piracy . . .

Re: MNOA/Chandigarh, seminar on maritime piracy

This has become a really long and interesting message set, in the course of the
night while I was away from the internet.

1) I personally do not support donations of any sort for attending conferences
or seminars. If the organisers want somebody that badly, then they pay. If the
person wants to say something that much, he pays. Day in and day out I am
invited to conferences in and around Delhi - corruption, environment, motoring,
media, the whole nine yards - and that has been the standard at the good ones -
and by and large, say what you want, most of these conferences evolve into
networking and co-opting functions. Reality is what people like Anna Hazare do,
everybody pays his own way.

2) The approach here is this - it is the value of the conference that is being
enhanced by the presence of the specific person with something to say. It is
also a cause that goes further if this cost is borne by the organisers.

3) If we have to make donations, then my sincere suggestion, request, advice, is
this:- please start with direct donations to the families of the people onboard
ships, that's my take on the subject. That is as far as looking behind, to help
those already in trouble, is concerned.

4) If we have to do something to fix things, looking ahead, then let us start
closer home, let us first of all openly accept the truths, with open house and
conference/seminar with our very own authorities. When was the last time DGS or
MoS or MUI or NUSI et al chose to hold a two-way dialogue with seafarers and
their families, anybody recall? After the Mangalore AIX crash, there was a
concentrated effort by some pilots and others to get into the whole rotten
aspects of aviation training and certification as well as other aspects of the
Indian aviation business - and the single point they focused was on the corrupt
core - DGCA. I am saying this here and have said it elsewhere - if we want to
fix things for looking ahead - let us get DGS in order. Call them to give
account. Let us fix the training colleges. But we won't do that because the
majority of seafarers ashore depend on this corrupt system to propagate their
own little feathered nests, right?

5) I know Capt. Choudhary quite well, and put it this way - he certainly has the
wherewithal to go for this conference on his own steam if he really wants to, as
he has expressed too. Very good man, and sincere - he went to Chandigarh on his
own steam and did something that most of us have not done - met with families of
piracy victims. Let us start by emulating him - I can help co-ordinate such
gatherings in Mumbai to start with - any takers? Maybe do it in the ballroom at
Seaman's Club, call the media, ask DGS, Shipping Office to send representatives?


So let us have a conference/seminar in India on matters pertaining to DGS. Let
us call not just the usual bunch of nodding heads waiting for lunch and evening
cocktails, let us call established speakers from investigation agencies, other
government departments, legal firms, tax specialists, families of seafarers
affected - and have them answer specific questions out in advance with people
from DGS present to counter the responses.

Let this conference/seminar be live on web, and let it be open to all. Let us
ask the YellowGate Police Station what THEY think about matters pertaining to
piracy, for example?

Today we have a regulatory body called the DGS who is not shy of attending
conferences and seminars everywhere else in the world - when did they last hold
one in India, a really good two-way one, on this subject?

I read day in and day out - of, we don't know who to deal with in the pirate's
lair. Oh, don't go to media. Oh, don't rock the boat. Oh, the shipping
agent/management company will cut off our monthly payments (as a few have done,
by the way, while the owners of these shipmanagement companies don't seem to be
suffering when they attend their CMMI meets in their luxury cars and gold decked
spouses . . .)

But I never hear from DGS for example, and maybe they should put it on their
website too:-

THIS is the agency responsible for such and such FOC flag, we are calling him
here to answer questions.

THIS is the real ship-owner we have issued him summons under our MSA/RP rules to
attend this enquiry.

THIS is the surveyor/inspector from our flag state who went onboard the ship and
said all is well but now the ship has sunk.

THIS is the shipmanager who did not provide proper anti-piracy measures on the
ship he sent people via RPS/DGS.

THIS is the person from DGS who placed a bond value of Rs 10000.oo per seafarer
onboard a foreign flag ship.

THIS is the Union official who has been in the seat for 30 years while
everywhere else terms are being restricted apropos IOA/CWG.

Tell you the truth, we can't even get our own DGS to reply to RTI Applications,
and have to drag them to CIC/Delhi for a response? (That's my own experience,
maybe DGS feels it is still, like INSA, fighting the Government of the day to
assist Indian shipowners - forgetting that the Government of the Day, for better
or for worse, is us?


Conferences and seminars are fine - but the real issue is at home with our own

And if we have spare money, may I, once again, suggest it goes straight to the
families? Start with asking MNOA/Chandigarh and SAILORS HELPLINE/Kochi, two
organisations which are doing just that, going down to the basics, to give us
names and addresses - and then just get up and send a money order, put the
money in the bank account number, send a cheque, send a parcel with clothes,
send whatever.


Humbly submitted.

Veeresh Malik

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