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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Releasing kidnapped Indians - the difference between seafarers and shore-staff

Can YOU spot the difference in the way the Ministry of Shipping and DG Shipping take forward matters for seafarers, and how the Ministry of External Affairs does so for others?

Here's a report from Mail Today/India Today:-

Pranab hand in freeing kidnapped Indian

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury/ New Delhi
FOR Sukumar Roy Chaudhury ( 65), a Delhi- based geophysicist, his tour to Yemen was meant to provide a boost to his career. Instead, it turned out to be a nightmare. Chaudhury was abducted and held captive by the infamous Hussain gang for 10 days before he was freed a few days ago for a ransom of ` 5 crore.

An IIT alumnus, Chaudhury is employed with a Faridabad- based oil and gas company. He was sent to Yemen to work for a local company with which the Indian firm has a tie- up.
Chaudhury was kidnapped along with three Kazakh engineers when they were on their way to the work site, 150 km from the Yemeni capital, Sanna. A ransom of ` 10 crore was demanded for his release.

While in captivity, Chaudhury was made to sleep on the floor and was given food once a day. Fortunately, he was allowed to use the phone. This enabled Chaudhury to contact his wife Anita who immediately got in touch with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to secure her husband’s release.

It has been learnt that Mukherjee acted swiftly and moved the ministry of external affairs ( MEA) to secure his release. It was nothing short of a secret mission launched by the MEA which saw Chaudhury being freed without much hassle. Though there were fears that with the government’s involvement the kidnappers could raise the ransom amount, the deal was finally settled for ` 5 crore. Currently lodged in a five- star hotel in Sanna, Chaudhury is expected to be back with his family in a few days after the legal formalities for his travel are completed.


And here's a report from the MASSA Newsletter of September 2011 for what the owners, agents and DG Shipping are doing for the seafarers stranded / kidnapped in Somalia especially those on the fully RPS compliant DG Shipping approved Indian Government authorised articles and agreements, working on Indian CDCs:-

Meeting of OMCI Shipping with MUI / NUSI / MASSA for updating status of Asphalt Venture crew held captive in Somalia on 19th September, 2011.

Capt. S. B. Kundargi, Secretary, MASSA attended the meeting and following is the gist of
the meeting.

Representative of Owners stated that owners are finding it difficult to continue expenses on
account the seven seafarers held captive in Somalia. NUSI countered that all expenses will
have to be borne by Owners as being done so far.

Similar views were expressed by both at the meeting with DGS also.

DGS has advised OMCI to discuss with Capt Vinay Singh on counseling methods used. They
may also contact V Ships and Capt Rangnekar. Owners will now contact Red Cross directly
without DGS involvement but keeping DGS advised on developments.

DGS advised that pirates generally have been allowing medicines to be delivered to hostages
and OMCI/Owners should check with family members on requirements and arrange

OMCI stated that their representatives are in regular contact with the seven seafarers. All are
healthy but some with complaints of skin infection. They are kept in huts and are being
shifted to different locations.

3) Meeting on 22nd September, 2011 in DGS Conference Room to discuss Creating
Awareness about Merchant Navy in Tier 3 and 4 cities.

The preliminary meeting of the committee for working out modus operandi to create more
awareness of seafaring profession was held under the chairmanship of Joint Director General
of Shipping on 22.09.2010.


And then, the same DG Shipping had this meeting:-

The modus operandi to create more awareness of seafaring profession:

The Chairman explained the need for creating awareness of seafaring profession. The
steps taken earlier on this issue were discussed. It was pointed out that during 2007-2008
road shows were arranged with involvement of INSA, FOSMA, & MASSA. Help lines
were also introduced by MASSA & FOSMA. However, all these activities are at present
practically not functional due to various reasons.

Mckinsey report has indicated that there is additional demand on requirement of manpower
in world shipping, which indicates that, the requirement of Indian resources in the coming
years is going to be doubled. Hence, this issue needs detailed deliberations to work out a
feasible road map to attain the target. Formation of sub-committee is, therefore, the primary
need & this group itself may be formed as a sub-committee. It was also pointed out that the
financial support to the project may also be forthcoming from overseas agencies for specific

FOSMA and MASSA representatives pointed out that if efforts have to be put up to create an
awareness among the general public regarding the seafaring profession, it will be advisable
to conduct road shows and to target students of 10 to 12 standards preferably during the start
of the academic sessions in schools and colleges. They were also of the opinion that quality
of marine training is declining and opined that a system shall be evolved by which the
responsibility of academics will be with Indian Maritime University and the responsibility for
the competency will be with Directorate General of Shipping. General awareness can also be
created by printed material, electronic media & road shows, among other means.
INSA was of the concerned view that there is a huge turn out from the Maritime training
Institutes but due to lack of training berths, there is excess manpower available. The training
is at present commercialized. Hence, awareness of seafaring profession is not warranted at
this stage. The need for quality in training has to be given priority at present. Perhaps
evaluating and benchmarking for the training institute may help the students choose the
correct institute.

After a detailed deliberations on the issue the following decisions were arrived at which can
be put forth to the National Shipping Board.

1. The issue on creating awareness of seafaring profession has to be looked into
comprehensively considering the present manpower availability, quality of training
imparted, management and control of training institute, etc.

2. Considering the above it is advisable to have a two track approach as follows
i) Enhancing the quality of training including controlling of the training slots in
view of training berths, by controlling & monitoring by weeding out infructuous
institutes, encouraging the 100% placement granted instead, i.e. sponsorship for
admission for training.

ii) Creating awareness of seafaring profession by following means.
Awareness programme- multiprong approach - counseling in schools, advertisements,
participation in education fairs, e-media, visual media, etc. Both these functions can
be parallel taken up in a gradual manner.
3. The sub-committee has suggested that the above members may work on this issue
and give their specific and elaborated recommendations after subsequent meetings.


Truth is this:- when senior seafarers go to DG Shipping for help in such cases, then people like Capt. Harish Khatri are reported to have told them to get out or he will call the police and have them arrested - forgetting that in this day and age these things are so easily recorded, both audio and video.

Do our shipping administrators think that we are still supplicants dependant on them, isn't the DG's interview in SAARC Journal quoted below reason enough for them to hang their faces in shame?


  1. The assumptions made in this article are wrong. Govt of India & DG Shipping are very helpful in case of piracy issue and have tried to help resolve situation in all possible way. However Govt of India cannot pay the ransom and fully invlove itself in assisting an Indian national working for foreign company ( unlike the shore baseed example quoted above).

  2. Thank you for your response. The Indian Nationals in the case of the ASPHALT VENTURE as well as some other ships captured/hijacked/kidnapped were and are very much working for Indian companies fully registered and operating under the RPS Rules 2005 and subsequent of the DG Shipping which is very much a stronger case, since the seafarer has been sent to work on a foreign flag ship with the complete Govt. of India behind him in terms of authorisations - whether CoC, CDC, agreements or more - WITH an Indian company or the PE in India of a foreign company. Maybe this simple fact has not been explained to the authorities in Delhi, so thank you for pointing this out, too.

    Interim, do you still not spot the difference?

  3. hi malik,

    why go to somalia ?

    thousands of seafarers come to mumbai for taking a flight to the ship and for medicals prior joining.

    how may of them are put in a decent hotel?

    some of the rooms in these "sailor specific " hotels do NOT have windows -- like stationary lockers on ships.

    it will be very interesting to find out how much percent KICK BACK the mumbai manning agents gets from these seedy hotel owners.

    for they will be presenting the ship owners with a inflated bill.

    usually this kickback is more than 50 PERCENT.

    in comparison i see my son who is a computer engineer in usa -- the company standard is a suite in JW MARRIOT.

    unless you respect yourself , why should others respect you.

    try getting what i have written here published by a SAILOR magazine meant for sailors.

    even these magazines want to mollycoddle the manning agents- and thus have better sales.

    capt ajit vadakayil