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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Any shippie with money in any Indian Provident Fund?

Then do read this:-

Moneylife » Half of the money with EPFO Nagpur office is unclaimed deposits!
Half of the money with EPFO Nagpur office is unclaimed deposits!

An RTI query revels that the Nagpur office of the EPFO (EmployeesProvident Fund Organisation) has almost half its current deposits in the ‘unclaimed’ category! The story is the same across the country. As per the latest rules, unclaimed deposits will now also stop earning interest

Friday, 9 November 2012

Notes from the Sunderband - April 2007

(previously published at

I have "done" the Sunderbans since well before they became famous in the minds of homo urbanis Indiana for man eating tigers. Those days they were known as "Royal Bengal". There were no bleeding hearts then, either. Paying rent was more important. Our parents were more into ensuring
 we survived and did well in maths. But we also got to  with them, on "tours", especially during our holidays.

It was still man eating man, as it still is today, the tigers were very much there, but they weren’t really that bad. I don’t have empirical data on this, but I am told that there was more "sweet" water around, in natural reserves within the forests. And there wasn’t much to suggest that tigers swam out long distances to prey on sleeping fisherfolk, choosing to wait till the foolish humans stepped ashore for wild honey or to trap crocodiles, and only after the number of crocodiles in the delta had gone down did the tigers start swimming long distances.

Bit of an evolutionary spiral there, but then that’s how it has always been, to what I can recall. 

As an Eastern Railway youngster, going out on small steamboats, South of Canning. Never came across people more gentle than the boat-handlers from the Sunderbans. 

As a young seafarer, sailing up and down the Southern extremeties of the Sunderbans through the Hooghly, on large ocean-going ships picking and dropping pilots in the flat and featureless Bay of Bengal at Sandheads. Never came across pirates more vicious than those from the Sunderbans. 

As a not so young seafarer, up the rivers of , at the Northern end. Never seen more masses of humanity living right along the ocean, than in the  part of the Sunderbans. 

And then recently (old? middle-aged?), as a traveller and tourist, criss-crossing the largely uninhabited Indian part of the delta on country ferries and fishing boats converted into double-decker cruise vessels. Never came across reformed poachers and smugglers more in tune with nature and preservation than those from the Sunderbans.

Same place, different times. And now we are told that they may vanish below the surface of the Bay of Bengal in the next few years. Yes, I myself saw huge chunks of islands being scooped out, and dropping into the water. But maybe, to come up at another spot, sandbanks are never firm and in position.

But everytime, what remained constant was the heavy tidal range, exceeding 7 metres twice a day. The muddy brown saline brackish waters, through which you could see nothing, but just knew that wonders and terrors co-existed in harmony just below the surface. The hypnotic beauty of the seemingly uninhabited thick dark forests, but just knew that jungle cats and bears were following your every movement with steady eyes, from just within the glorious dark. The shiny  grey of the swamplands at the relentless but lazy ebb sucking everything out with it except the debris left behind till low tide, turning brown with the incoming flood, swirling madly when reaching high water marks amidst submerged trees out of waterworlds.

Here, then, are random notes from my last visit to the Sunderbans. My first trip as a tourist, though I did break away from the planned iternary, on a clear late March night to see the stars. To my , that night brought on a totally unexpected March storm, severe enough to cause a few boats to capsize. But it also brought out tales of the inner strength that keeps the Sunderbans going, despite everything, and be aware - they have a lot going against them lately.

To start with, there is the combined threat of , rising water-levels and increased urbanisation. The proliferating chimneys from brick kilns within the paddy and sunflower fields can not be missed as you drive through 24 Parganas, and pretty much every third boat leaving the jetty during the day at Sonakhali and Basanti is loaded down to the marks with bricks. You can sense them see the silhouettes also, as the same boats make their way back during the night loaded with timber chopped from along the shoreline of the inner islands. And yes, "nature resorts" are springing up like sprouts on onions and potatoes left in guest-house almirahs, visible if you choose to look.

Next, rising interest rates in mainland  don’t mean anything to C.K. Prahlad’s mass at the bottom of the base here, anyways. The going rates have always been around 8% to 10% per month for unsecured loans. That’s right, and to start with, you get the first month’s interest rate debitted. But then there is also the code of the Sunderbans. Widows are simply not troubles for unpaid loans, the money-lender absorbs the , though the widow now slogs for her  at ebb tide in white saries for the rest of her life. And the co-operative movement started by dour Scotsman Sir Donald Hamilton and , of McKinnon & McKinzies, continues to flourish side by side. Notwithstanding the fact that the rigid babus of the State Bank of  have taken over the building where this co-operative used to function from.

The solar  scenario started off with a blast, and was going great guns till two years ago, after which it fell into the usual  inspired ruts. Of delayed supplies, subsidy scams and simple unavailabilities. As a result you now see LPG cylinders and diesel gensets making their appearance. All this in a part of the world where renewable forestry would be more than sufficient to meet all  needs. Including for the bio-gasifier plant providing electricity at Gosaba, the first and probably the "main" island. 

Gosaba also has a couple of mobile phone towers catering to the GSM lot, but if you are on CDMA, then forget it. Probably better off being cut-off, actually. And connectivity is sporadic at best, though BSNL comes out tops here, as always in non-urban locations. Saw a fair bit of LED lighting coming up, too, but not much wind-power.

Stating this may get me into trouble, but what the heck, these are observations. Non-Bengalis who speak Bengali, Bengalis from abroad, and foreigners who merge, are treated with great joy and , seems we come with open minds and no baggage. Non-Sunderbans Bengalis who speak English are treated with disdain, almost with contempt, and carry their own baggage. Bengalis who speak Bengali are first put in their place as mainlanders, explained the laws of the islands, and then welcomed. Foreigners who come with deep pockets are induced to charter full boats and stay away from the rest of us, which is just as good, too. And those who back-pack, hopping islands by boat and rickshaw, are truly beloved, as well as literally adopted. 

(Note on backpacking:- reach Kolkata any old how. Take local train to Canning or bus to Sonakhali/Basanti (costs between nothing and 12 rupees). Take country boat to Gosaba (costs between 1 and 5 rupees). Walk across Gosaba (free), ride rickshaw (negotiate) or stay first night (costs between 25 and 300 rupees). Eat whatever the locals eat, plenty of good veggie stuff available. ( being a fish-eater helps). Next day, start riding the ferries and other boats to the distant islands, if in , ask for and reach Annpur, where Niranjan Raptan will always guide you further.)

The sun rises very early in these parts. And the not-so-famous roosters of the Sunderbans are on some sort of enhanced diets, they start off with what is usually a co-ordinated move, at a random time between 3am and 4am. They then continue in full chorus till noon, after which they wait for exhausted tourists to fall into siesta stupors, and then they bellow forth again. Personally, I went there to eat fish, but would gladly wring the neck of male poultry if they weren’t so adept at jumping out of reach. And when they stop, the ducks and geese howl at them to start again, it seems they miss the repertoire.

The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation’s huts at Sajnekhali breed monkeys who are trained to open locked doors and make off with your personal effects as well as all , and anything else they like. That is if they don’t do so when you are walking around anyways. Best avoided, except for day visits, or unless some Big Babu is setting things up for you. Then you get the monkey proof tours. The same West Bengal  remote outposts are beautifully maintained, and a testimony to what a few good men and  can and will do, if not interfered with. How do you get to these remote outposts in the core areas? You try, and seldom on your first visits do you succeed.

Forget about trying to spot tigers or crocodiles. They are probably watching you from behind the thick forest darkness or from just next to the murky water surface, as you glide pase, hoping that you will make a mistake. Trying to figure out how the trees survive in a salt water bath twice a day, while their roots are also being treated to a saline diet, is more fun. To get an idea, tip a bucket of Sunderbans water over yourself, and stand in the sun, take a sip too. See what happens, and then appreciate the way the whole eco-system there gets along.

The female to male ratio of visitors to the Sunderbans is highly skewed in favour of the females. Typically, there are 2 or 3 female tourists for every male, and this is a fact not a perception. Endorsed by the rather satisfied looking boatmen, all of whom are tanned, healthy, fit as well as competent enough to be stage and theatre actors when not navigating through uncharted waters. There is something here, which I observed in Greek and Italian men working the sea-shores, too. Chick-magnets. 

The whole concept of "mainlanders" is  frighteningly similar to what I heard in  a few decades ago. "You Indians", is another phrase. What do you say to them, when they explain that the complete prawn harvest is "blocked" off by the traditional seths from Kolkata, who will simply destroy if every gram of prawn harvested in the Sunderbans is not turned over to them? Likewise,  is seen as an entity without sustainable or long-term roots, out to gouge and take as much as they can without ploughing anything back in return. 

There is not a single functional hospital or rural  centre in the Sunderbans, but there are no shortages on police-boats out to get their share of whatever is the day’s catch. There is absolutely no public , but there are checkposts all over on the islands as well as afloat to see if the "permit" for cameras costing all of 10/- rupees has been issued or not. There is no building code, and "mainlanders" are buying up land to construct hideous buildings on soil which will swallow them in a few years. And as for sewage treatment, I saw no sign but I did see how rich tourists come and throw empty water bottles away over the side and worse.

Despite all this, the Sunderbans are still a "last frontier" kind of visit. Go there before they disappear below the swirling tides.

I could go on and on. But photos are worth thousands of words, and mine are up at . . . a full set of 251 photos from my last visit. See them if you can’t make it to the Sunderbans in the next 10 years or so. They may not be there after that. The Sunderbans.

Slideshow, faster, at

Monday, 5 November 2012

Pratibha Cauvery - the real story part ! & 2

Pratibha Cauvery, 31 years old, already in bad shape, with unpaid crew, no provisions, no diesel, no stores, no drinking water, is outside Chennai harbour. What are the options with the captain? Very little, given the current way maritime laws are implemented

The truth behind what happened on the Pratibha Cauvery off Chennai lies more in the communications to and from the ship for the past few months than in what happened onboard in the last few hours before grounding. Meanwhile, as the ship breaks free and heads north, the bigger question arising is—was this an attempt to scuttle the ship for insurance?


Saturday, 27 October 2012

The latest on cabotage in India

And how it will affect you.

And why this impacts the future of not just your jobs, or the maritime industry in India, but the larger issues therein.

Buying an apartment? Read this too

The number of seafarers I know who have suffered at the hands of call it bad luck or simple naivette, when purchasing property, is about one in three. In most cases, these real estate based disasters happen at the hands of people they trusted, and so signed away blindly their hard earned money.

Here, then, are some simple guidelines on what you should look out for while trying to book apartments or offices.

Do let me know what you think?


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

RAPPAHANNOCK shootout - are Indian seafarers target practice now?

We were at sea in the "good old days" when we heard stories about how naval ships from the Western countries, well after WW-II was over, would take potshots at fishing fleets from developing countries in the middle of the ocean, for whatever reason, even wagers between people - in a day and age when communication was not all that good.
It is the submission of some of us that a similar arrogance is coming back on the oceans. There are rules for us and there are no rules for them. Are we now target practice for a bunch of cowboys?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Fatigue at sea with seafarers - a film you must watch

Not just watch, but also comment, on their website as well as this blog. Finally somebody who gives some plain talk - why are seafarers subjected to such horrific conditions of work?

And please share too. We owe this to not just ourselves, but to the future generations.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Dat of the Seafarer

Tomorow is the day of the Seafarer. Whatever that means, because as of now, the Indian seafarer is getting it in the neck from all sides - pirates, criminalisation, fatigue, shortage of trained personnel, recession, taxation, sub-standard working conditions, the works. And now, those who would misrule us, are expected to relax cabotage, literally giving away the right to ply Indian flag ships on the Indian coast with Indian seafarers to mickey mouse Flag of Convenience rust buckets. Treason is a word that comes to mind.

memories of TS Dufferin

Please read this article in toto to get an idea of the democratic and fair way in which training and life was imparted on the TS DUFFERIN.

Especially the important aspect of being judged by your peers.

When and how did this change on the Dufferin/Rajendra, after Plaan/Inderjit Singh took over??

Thursday, 21 June 2012

mv RENA conviction-attacking the symptoms, not the disease

Cheapest FOCs with overworked 3rd world crews are NOT the solution.

The Maritime Union is calling for a complete overhaul of New Zealand shipping policy to avoid a repeat of the Rena disaster.
Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the main problem is that New Zealand desperately needs a shipping policy.
Mr Fleetwood says the jailing of the Rena's Master and Mate was a case of attacking the symptom but not the disease of deregulated Flag of Convenience shipping (Editorial note: see more information about Flag of Convenience shipping below).
"The approach for the last generation has been for Government to abdicate its responsibility to ensure standards in the maritime industry."
As long as Flag of Convenience shipping was given a "free ride" in New Zealand waters, Rena style incidents were "almost guaranteed".
"The surprising thing is how long it took for a shipping disaster of this type to happen, not that it did happen."
Mr Fleetwood says the Australian Government this week passed Shipping Reform Package bills to regenerate Australian owned and Australian crewed shipping.
New Zealand, by contrast, was still locked into failed deregulation policies from the 1980s.
"Do we need more Rena style disasters to get the same action on merchant shipping in our waters?"
Mr Fleetwood says the reintroduction of cabotage (giving priority to New Zealand owned and crewed shipping) was now back on the agenda following the Australian developments.
He says that it was extremely disturbing that a maritime trading nation like New Zealand was now completely dependent on global shipping lines and Flag of Convenience vessels.
"We need a New Zealand shipping line to ensure our maritime and economic security."
There were a number of other basic changes that could be easily made to rapidly improve safety in the industry, such as the mandatory use of dedicated shipping lanes, which could have prevented the Rena disaster.
Greater regulation of shipping was required to monitor fatigue, safety standards, and the condition of vessels.
"The crew are under enormous pressure for faster turnarounds from the owners. In this environment, errors and bad judgement will continue."
Increasing the liability on the owners and charterers of vessels was obviously required.
The Maritime Union had also lobbied the Government previously to the Rena Disaster for the provision of a quick response vessel to assist for shipping or offshore oil and gas industry emergencies.
Mr Fleetwood says the deregulated and "toxic" competition in the entire maritime industry was responsible for many problems in shipping and ports.
He says the recent moves to remove foreign flagged charter vessels from the New Zealand fishing industry were an acknowledgement of the crisis in the wider maritime industry.
The changes had vindicated a long running campaign by the Union to get the fishing industry cleaned up.
The problems experienced with Flag of Convenience shipping in New Zealand waters had many similarities, and had to be dealt with in the same way.
Mr Fleetwood says the Maritime Union welcomed the growing political support for New Zealand shipping from opposition parties.
What is Flag of Convenience (FOC) shipping?
A flag of convenience ship is one that flies the flag of a country other than the country of ownership.
Cheap registration fees, low or no taxes and freedom to employ cheap labour are the motivating factors behind a shipowner's decision to 'flag out'.
Some of these registers have poor safety and training standards, and place no restriction on the nationality of the crew. Sometimes, because of language differences, seafarers are not able to communicate effectively with each other, putting safety and the efficient operation of the ship at risk.
In many cases these flags are not even run from the country concerned.
Once a ship is registered under an FOC many shipowners then recruit the cheapest labour they can find, pay minimal wages and cut costs by lowering standards of living and working conditions for the crew.
Globalisation has helped to fuel this rush to the bottom. In an increasingly fierce competitive shipping market, each new FOC is forced to promote itself by offering the lowest possible fees and the minimum of regulation. In the same way, ship owners are forced to look for the cheapest and least regulated ways of running their vessels in order to compete, and FOCs provide the solution.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The real Gateway to India - Chagos Archipelago (part 1 & 2)

So how and where and when did we just simply give up the whole British Indian Ocean Territories, our claim to it, the Chagos, and what does it mean to many of us?

""There was a time, glory days, as my seafaring friends will recall, this was '70s and '80s, when if you flew the Indian flag and had "INDIA" painted on the sides of your ship, nobody in the world touched you. The Persian Gulf was at war, 1971 was fresh in the world's mind, Vietnam was drawing to a big American defeat, USSR was dissolving, England was fighting Argentine, but ships with INDIA painted in huge day-glow letters on the side (and huge means each alphabet was 5-10 metres in height, depending on the size of the ship) were inviolate.""


""The first island to go was what is known today as Bab el Manded. Used to be known as Dwar-e-Mandir, or, the gateway to the temples. Located off Aden, a mere speck but straddling the entry and exit to the Red Sea, it is still important enough. In mythology, it is where the Red Sea was split into two to save the Faithful, but in history, these were low-lying swamps which the early humans crossed over to reach Asia from Africa. 60000 years or so ago.
For us it used to be a point of reference, as it was for seafarers for centuries before, from where we knew the courses by heart to a full range of ports from the entry to the Persian Gulf through the Straits of Hormuz to the West Coast of India, or the base of Ceylon called Devundra or Lord's Port and now known as Dondra Head, and thence beyond into the wonders of Malacca.""


read on . . .

The case being made to reduce wages for Indian seafarers

Are Indian seafarers pricing themselves out of the market, and if so, what can be done? That was the question put to me and initially, with the accompanying data viewed in purely mathematical terms, it did appear to be the case.

For example, and all figures approximate, in USD and basis contractual wages per month or pro-rata. Indian officers are typically between these two figures.

Newly promoted Master/Chief Engineer: North-West European countries  / 13000 and Far East Developing countries  /  6500

Entry level 3rd Officer / 4th Engineer: North-West European countries / 5300 and Far East Developing countries /  2200

The argument or hypothesis put forward is that Indian officers need to voluntarily start accepting salaries closer to the salaries accepted by officers from the Far Eastern countries if they don't want to see themselve being out-priced from the market. Obviously, this does not take into account flag-state requirements, and applies more to open
register employment opportunities - though even some flag states are now relaxing this when it comes to employing foreign nationals on their ships.

This would be correct if the maritime industry was a simple operational industry, where the financial aspects over-rode everything else, and humans could be increasingly replaced by machines and computers. Or treat the sailor as sub-humans. To some extent, that is the way the industry has evolved over the past 2-3 decades, but there is simply no more elasticity left in the constant battle to reduce head-count on board by every means possible. How much more can the owners and flag states play around with so-called safe manning, before port states start imposing their own conditions, is already being played out.

If anything, as enquiry reports in more than a few accidents have shown lately, fatigue and lack of competence are the two biggest reasons going hand-in-hand while safety and efficiency take a beating. Certificates of competency and time-sheets are one thing, realities are another, and ship-owners as well as operators must realise that the issue is deeper than just salaries or rather the daily-wage kind of contractual numbers.

One solution would be for the same people advocating further reduction in head-counts to spend some time on board real working ships, as pursers, to try and understand the realities involved. And on terms and conditions as applicable to 3rd Officers.

Because. Then only will management, especially financial management, learn that the modern young seafarer, as with any other career professional, is looking for more than just money. There are two other very important parameters involved:- future potential and respect at the workplace. Nothing more needs to be said or written on how both these paramters have gown downhill over the last 2-3 decades.

Not that salaries have kept pace either. Compared with other avenues open to younger people, merchant navy salaries have not kept up. Simple as that.

Speaking with a few youngsters in the Merchant Navy on the subject, one can understand their frustration - managements tend to ignore the fact that their frontline operational staff expect more than just money. Leave alone a reduction in wages, many of them were of the opinion that even doubling of wages without improving working conditions and future potential meant nothing to them.

Which takes me back to the solution - which has to go back to basics. Tthe Indian seafarer was and should still be linked to the Indian flag ships. That is where the solution lies - there will be no dearth of very well qualified people willing to work for lower salaries as long as the other two parameters of respect at the workplace and future potential are met. Sadly, the Indian flag shipowners have defaulted on this responsibility terribly over the last few decades, and this needs to be resolved first.

If, hypothetical if, the Indian shipowners simply matched terms and conditions offered by the Indian Navy to theiir younger officers, then many of the same younger officers see no reason why a 20-year working life could not be something easy to achieve. With all the other benefits that accrue to shipowners able to plan for the future. And more.

The example of the coastal and foreign going Chinese flag fleet can be quoted in this context. The example of how many of us in the '70s and '80s chose to stay on with Indian flag vessels at lower salaries for the same reasons can also be quoted.

By all means, think about reducing salaries to make the Indian seafarer more competitive, but it can not be a stand-alone. It may sound strange, but bench-marking the Indian Navy for this is not such a wild idea - the two services have always been related and till not too long ago, the best who came out of the Training Ships actually went to the Indian Navy.

The rest, the not so best, or the better than most, take your pick, can then certainly work in the open registers.

And there, let market forces decide.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Sugary soft drinks should be BANNED on merchant ships

And this is why - they cause cancer and other diseases.

Read on:-

Like cigarettes, the West increasingly sees colas as terribly bad for health and shielding their children from it because obesity, diabetes and now cancer are directly linked to these sweet, coloured liquids. For Coke and Pepsi, India, a large market with low awareness, is ripe for exploitation—aided by Bollywood and cricket superstars

There is a term used in racing at sea—sail close to the wind—which implies doing something which is dangerous, just about legal, or acceptable. It comes from real life out there on the waters, when you try to move forward almost right into the direction the wind is coming from, using all your skills to not only stay upright, but also to make some headway while others have given up. It also implies using illegal methods, when nobody is watching, to reach your destination.

(click the link to read on . . .)

Monday, 26 March 2012

GATI PRIDE - death on board, Chennai

Another death due to sub-standard working conditions. Will the Master be pulled up, or the company, or the surveyors, or the classification society, or the Port State Control?

Monday, 12 March 2012

As quoted in the Times of India . . .ENRICA LEXIE Italian mercenary murder case

It does seem, from the rest of the report, that the DGS is really really taking a dump on the MMD. And about time too.

""Shipping and marine security expert Veeresh Mallik said the delay by
the MMD, Cochin officials could have helped the culprits destroy
crucial evidence. "However," he said, "the VDR data can still be
retrieved with certain software if the equipment on board is not
damaged or replaced.""

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Is racism the real reason for differing treatment of seafarers?

Why are our seafarers still getting killed on our coast?
March 10, 2012 08:17 AM |
Veeresh Malik

What is happening on the west coast of India lately with the MV Enrica Lexie, in and around Kerala, defies all logical explanation. Except one big one—the crew in this case happens to be European, not third world

Monday, 5 March 2012

A Master Mariner speaks out about fishing on the Indian coast . . .

Identity protected by request. Comments welcome:-

BTW: That article in Moneylife about another incident of loss of fishermen's lives off Kerala - I wish there would be some scathing reportage on the manner in which the fishing boats are allowed to operate. They display lights that are anything but Colreg compliant. They jam VHF frequencies with their ceaseless chatter seriously interfering with watchkeepers concentration and ability to send out/ listen in on safety/distress traffic. They always want/claim right of way - even when they are not engaged in fishing and thus are just power driven vessels. They cut across bows with gay abandon giving heart attacks to young OOW's who may have been given strict CPA's to maintain by Masters in their standing/nigt orders.

There is not a single 'no-fishing' zone established at the entrances by any of the coastal state governments for any of our busy ports. Mumbai port approaches are a nightmare for navigation due to the clutter of fishing boats. The DGS shrugs its shoulders (in reality it has no powers over fishing vessels and near coastal and inland waterways vessels). Coastal admins do not enforce even the basic requirements e.g. radar reflectors, proper nav lights, clear display of registry and name (so that ships can report violations), they do not publicise the means of lodging complaints e.g. contact details and address of office responsible etc - against navigation rule violations.

It's a mess. Those guys getting run over - they asked for it. I have no sympathy for them - having faced inumerable anxious moments myself in my career. All this whine they give about nav lights being costly or radar reflectors or painting their boats brightly (for better visual detection) is bunk. Or claiming that they have the right to impede safe navigation in constrained waters (e.g. port entrance zones) when they clearly know that the freighters too have every right to navigate in safety.


This is the article referred to:-


More of my stuff here:-

Friday, 2 March 2012

More fishermen killed off Kerala . . . and the larger impact

Maritime incidents involving fishermen—a deeper issue impacting our global economic status

The impact of this on our economic strength has been discussed in the past also in this journal, and matters have only become worse since then, but at some stage there comes a time when this sort of an approach—that India is content being a soft state—has to stop


The message has to get across. Either that or we can take our economic superpower dreams, and place them aside while more of our second line of defence, our fishermen, fall victims to rogue ships and the people onboard. If the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have to be given an independent dispensation to enforce discipline and adherence to laws in Indian waters, in lieu of the civil maritime administration that appears to be incapable of doing anything other than feathering their halcyonic nests, then so be it.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Who is the real owner of the ENRICA LEXIE??

One of the more interesting aspects of the ENRICA LEXIE episode has to do with trying to figure out WHY the complete Italian Government machinery, along with really heavy duty support services like religion, PR, diplomats, and back-channel, are so interested in releasing this ship and the two armed mercenaries onboard.

And in the bargain, the REAL ownership of the vessel is not truly revealed, as well as the real purpose of the ship and what it was doing so close to Indian waters. After all, with armed guards onboard, she could have easily plotted a direct course to the Red Sea, instead of hugging the Indian coast, right?

Here's an interesting excerpt from a page on Italian law on the subject.

read item 19 . . .

So, what about it, why is the ENRICA LEXIE so important to them??

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Italian ships, Indian Navy, and the Arabian Sea

On one side, in the ENRICA LEXIE case, the Italians are going ballistic about the capabilities, fairness, investigative skills and even judicial integrity of India. They also question the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard's right to take action a few miles off the Indian coast.

On the other side, for the Italian passenger ship COSTA ALLEGRA, the Indian Navy provides air support, air back-up, food drop and more - and this one, the ship is near Seychelles, almost along the coast of Tanzania.


Here, the Italians say:- ""The ship is at the southern end of the seas that are vulnerable to attacks by Somali pirates. But a government spokesman told the BBC that attacks in the area had decreased in the past year as security improved.""

Make your own judgement. If you ask me, all these Italian ships need to now have a tug in front and one behind, for safety reasons.

Safety of other users of the oceans and seas.

(The COSTA ALLEGRA lost all power after a fire onboard and is adrift right now. The Indians provide the SAR support in this part of the world. That includes SAR for fishing boats attacked by merchant ships, by the way.)

Enrica Lexie - smoking gun?

My article on the Enrica Lexie case for Current . . dubious, smelly . . . oh well.

"It is difficult to understand why the complete diplomatic, military, religious and PR machinery of Italy would come into play for an incident involving something as commonplace as the arrest of a ship – scores, if not hundreds, of ships lie under arrest globally at any given time."

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Is the Enrica Lexia a 2nd Purulia armsdrop case?

Here's my article on the Enrica Lexie / St. Antony case in context with the murder of two Indian seafarers - and as the shipping brass descends into Cochin, in full form to celebrate the inauguration of the Cochin MMD office, the question needing an answer is this - is this a Purulia Armsdrop kind of case?

And here's a copy of my recent letter to the office of the DGS . . .:-


Do let me know what you think, and can anybody understand the position of the poor souls on board, the Indians - what happens to them when they finally disembark and all this nonsense of "diplomatic immunity" for the ship when the Port State Control has full authority, gets over?

I mean, our PSC struts around like monkeys otherwise, where are they now in this case, can't even go on board for an inspection, stop the ship on any of a few dozen deficiencies, as usual, and make their little petty haftaas?


Letter to DGS:-

Good morning and hope you and your colleagues have a pleasant visit to Cochin.

Here is the latest article by me on what is now increasingly being referred to as "Purulia 2".

I think DG Shipping should have played a far more pro-active role in this episode, especially when the initiative was with them. Now the whole mess of the DGS is being opened like a can of worms and I feel sorry, though vindicated.

Good luck, and I hope you preside over a major clean-up and shake-up at DGS.

Veeresh Malik
New Delhi