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Thursday, 20 October 2011

What ails Indian Shipping (Another view . . .)

Here's a link to yet another brilliant article by Manu Mahajan on what really ails Indian seafarers lately, and the role that the employers as well as authorities have to play in this - it is pertinent to point out that one of the DGS babus previously apparently a Master Mariner was kind enough to tell a seafarer wgo had a genuinely serious issue that "did you think you can just pick up the phone and call me?" Said seafarer then told him, fair enough, if I can't call you on phone during office hours, then may be better come with a can of kerosene and do self-immolation outside his office, would that be better.

I have been at the other end when some other people have called the same dude, and he has been like "yes sir no sir 3 bags full sir", because that said person put it on speaker for my benefit.

Manu, as always, gets the point across with his sharp observations.

But more than that, it is the feedback I am getting from younger seafarers, many of whom are moving on to other options, that something is very wrong with the way the marine administration in India is ostensily functioning.

Let us have your views, too, and as always, confidentialities maintained.



Today, I watch from the sidelines, sometimes anguished and sometimes angry, as this war damages the industry near-irretrievably. Thirty two year old Masters tell me why they are quitting. Young Second Mates talk to me with lesser composure and greater angst, but some of their reasons are similar to those of the seniors'. Young cadets tell me why they will quit 'within five years'. And ratings look shell shocked, convinced that the choice they made- or that was made for them by family, in some cases- was absolutely the wrong one.

The battle is one sided, but it is still being waged all the time, overtly and covertly, by almost every small and large minion at many- even most- shipowning or shipmanagement companies today. (Shabby treatment of seafarers is a given in government setups like the MMD or DGS too, but for reasons more to do with misguided bureaucratic self-importance than commerce).

The battle is waged when second rung clerks of often third-rate calibre are unleashed on crews at every interface with these body-shopping outfits. The overt battle has other weapons in its armoury when it comes to senior officers, who are more subtly made to feel inferior to their counterparts ashore, some of them ex-sailors now often unfit to sail for one reason or another. Officers will be often treated poorly at every stage of their interaction with the office, whether at sea or not. Even entry-level management trainees are treated much better ashore, especially in businesses with high attrition rates, but shipping must serve its hidden agenda; it must cut off its nose to spite its face.

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