Sunday, 17 June 2012

Unemployment Chronicle II


"...because I am you" initiative does not necessarily subscribe to all the views/figures expressed in these letters. These are personal opinions of Mr. Govindarajan and is being shared on our platform with his consent to reach a larger audience and particularly make the aspirants aware of the profession they wish to join. Readers are requested to ratiocinate before believing any of our posts !

                                    

THE BELOW IS THE CONTENT OF  LR TO BE WRITTEN BY SOCIAL ACTIVIST SHRI.V.R.CHANDRAN OF CHENNAI TO DGS AND MIN OF SHIPPING AND TRANSPORT , GOI. ON THE BELOW SUBJECT
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Dear Shri. Agnihotri,                   
     Sub:  Over supply of Engine Cadets, Deck Cadets, Ratings leading to
               Unemployed of young maritime personnel- grievance regarding.

                                         Good day.  I am a social worker, trade unionist and crusader against corruption. I had been associated with the trade union affairs of Chennai Port trust, dock labour board for over 4 decades. I am also the head quarters secretary of ANTI CORRUPTION movement, a Chennai based NGO.  Our efforts over the last 4 years under the RTI act requesting the ED (Enforcement Directorate) to reveal the names of the persons who held the Swiss bank by evading tax in our county, and subsequent hearing by the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the judgement of the CIC ruling in our favour, demonstrate our commitment to public life. The ED has gone for an appeal in Delhi HC against the verdict.

             Whenever the matters of concern for the welfare of seafarers brought to my notice I had taken up the issue at the appropriate level to bring justice and solace to the affected. On few occasions the DGS issued circulars taking note of my appeal.  
                    India has been an important maritime nation over the last few centuries. The Directorate General of Shipping, Government of India, in order to ensure fair distribution of employment among available seamen and to eradicate the malpractices in recruitment had controlled effectively the pre-sea training institutes. These pre-sea training institutes were initially run by the government/ public sectors.  In 1997   the DGS approved training institutions in private sector to select and train candidates for pre-sea training without any necessity for sponsorship from shipping companies, based on guidelines issued by the Ministry of Surface Transport, Government of India, due to the campaign "MANNING CRISIS”. Many shipping companies also started their own training facilities to upgrade their standards, to train their own cadets and to retain their skilled workforce, beside it had helped the companies to interact with their crew during their vacation.
        The private institute’s  assertion (& the shipping  industry’s claims )about the  so called “MANNING CRISIS”, namely, an acute industry- wide shortage of qualified seagoing officers and ratings, little is known about an equally undesirable oversupply of  Engine, Deck cadets and ratings. This over supply results in rendering seafaring particularly precarious for the junior level officers & trainee level ratings, which may be seen as another crisis. By making the propaganda that there is “manning crisis”, the worldwide shortage for skilled maritime officers is on the rise and the demand for seafarers has not declined even in the current global economic downturn,   the private maritime institutes have managed to convince the DGS and enhanced their intake capacities many folds / started new courses over the last few years.
                               Beside those who run these private institutes left no stones unturned to create a false image that there will be shortage of sea farers in future. It is claimed that they engineered the presentations submitted during the many seminars, workshops, Symposiums, conventions that are held in the maritime related fields to indicate falsely about the so called “MANNING CRISIS”.  This was ably supported by some vested ship-owners predominantly from the developed world as this would give them more option to “pick and choose” the seafarers from developing countries at significantly lower costs. These claims even made the government of India to establish IMU (Indian maritime University) and spread its wings. It is a pity that even those who had successfully completed their course in the IMU did not get any placement.     
            The private institutes located at  ( the  fig in parenthesis indicate the no of institutes as per 2010 record) Mumbai(38) ,Chennai(17), Kolkata (11)Goa(6),Cochin (5), Pune(4), Others (43)  for their sheer pleasure of making money have played havoc with the life of many youth in India mostly hailing from North East of India & Jharkhand. It is feared that many influential persons on seeing the prospects of these private institutes are planning start many more such institutes some are to be located in the North East India.
                     The Unfortunate youth who are unaware of the shipping industry   joined the pre-sea training for various grades as they were impressed by the advertisements released by the private training institutes promising lucrative salary just after completing the course. It is alleged that during the preadmission process most of the private institutes display the media coverage’s and other shipping news cuttings indicating falsely high demand for the merchant navy cadets / ratings.  The uniforms, strict discipline during the training impress the parents to admit their wards.  The Students after spending about 12 to 16 lakhs of Rupees towards their education do not get any employment opportunity in ships due to oversupply. There is no positive promise for assured job on ships by the private as well as IMU. The CDC (sea man book) which was earlier given only against the sponsorship from the shipping company, now a day’s issued against the completion of training and the mandatory STCW courses, the DGS declaration in the CDC application form   “issuance of CDC does not guarantee a job which is the prerogative of the employers”, proves beyond doubt that the such issue of CDC without the employment letter serve the interest of the private training institutes only. Many agents fleece innocent Youth stating that, once they  get a CDC they are only a few days away from getting lucrative salary.
                It is felt that even though the DGS officials could not allocate time, amidst their daunting task of conducting the inspection of ships and various competency examinations, to monitor the  growth  of private institutes, they had amply governed the maritime institutes  during the initial few years, but later due to pressure from  political /private institutes , they become silent, is understood to be the major  factor behind the granting approvals  to many institutes, which had created the unwarranted situation which has thrown the life of many youth in peril.  I would like to recall that, during 1991~1992, when the Chennai Port Trust admitted more trainees than the approved strength the DGS intervened and ensured restoration of sanctioned strength, because of such action the Chennai port Trust had to suspend the training to many trainees and cleared the back log in a phased manner always  maintaining the DGS directive.  Similar corrective action is required now from the DGS officials to bring hope to thousands of unemployed youth in our country besides preventing further exploitation of youth.
                  The seafarers have been subjected to all forms of abuse in the shipping industry, resulted in the implementation of MLC 2006. The MLC is bound to take care of the sailing seafarers; the DGS would ensure it is implemented properly in Indian flag and the others through strict PSC Inspections. The DGS should act immediately to prevent the worst form of exploitation of youth Indian youth under the pretext of providing them maritime career.
                It is painful to note the plight of the young men (some women too) who joined maritime institutes with high hopes of shaping their career in shipping   are unable find their feet on ships for furthering their career path.  There are plans by some unscrupulous persons with political backing to buy / charter ships and train these unfortunate youth in mass( collecting fees from the already frustrated youth instead of paying them salary (of course these business men will eventually convince the DGS for the same) again squeezing the unfortunate youth and their parents. It is doubted that whether such training in mass would meet the shipping industry standards?  The fame which Indian maritime professionals earned over the centuries would get ruined by these awkward training mooted by some vested interest. Already many foreign companies have started absorbing the Chinese, Ukrainian, Russian and the Thai cadets instead of Indians. Such substandard training mooted by someone will aggravate the situation further, as these unfortunate youth will be again jobless after the training on such ships.       

     The plight of those who underwent  the 4 year course leading to B.Tech in Marine Engineering, BS (marine Engineering) is highly pathetic as they were not able to pursue higher studies Like post graduation in engineering    ( like ME) as the B.Tech in Marine Engineering, BS (marine Engineering)  course is not approved by AICTE.  (as per AICTE these courses cannot be treated as equivalent to a university degree approved by AICTE, as only the MEO Class 1 COC is treated as equivalent AICTE approved university degree). Terming these 4 year course as B.Tech and BS in Marine Engineering has misled many to become victims. Worst are the candidates who studied in the off campus institutes under BITS (BRILLA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE) as it did not have either AICTE or UGC approval, but has DGS approval.  Even though the DGS is not issuing them the Degree, the DGS has approved these institutes to function and set the syllabus hence the DGS is duty bound to help these unfortunate youth. Many unemployed youth with BE Marine qualifications had studied IT/ computer related courses, but they had a shock of their life when the IT companies did not even consider them for calling for interview in view of their Marine qualification (fearing that these marine persons will not stay with them).  It is understood that Vels University, Chennai is not in a position to confer graduate degree for the first three batches of Marine engineering BE students as there were partial indulgence with Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation University, Salem.  The first three batches of marine engineering students are most aggrieved that they do not possess a proper University degree, as promised by Vels University (deemed University).
                I appeal on behalf of the affected youth that    
1.       DGS should create a data base of all unemployed Engine cadets, Deck cadets and Ratings and work out a scheme to provide them chance to join ship or an alternative employment to alleviate their sufferings. If no solution is found, at least these data base will serve the purpose of giving warning to the institute from making false propaganda. There should be continuous monitoring instead of a onetime action. The government itself should collect such data instead of appointing any agency.
2.        The 3 yrs degree stream of BSc Nautical Science and 4 years Degree stream of BE marine engineering and the training for the Ratings should be suspended for a period of time or abolished, to prefer intake of graduates in Mech engineering and other areas of engineering through pre-GME courses (currently under study by DGS STCW cell) . 3 years BSc nautical science is said to be a total failure and unwelcome by the shipping companies, due to low standards.  Training for nautical students should restrict to DNS course under IGNOU/IMU only.
3.         Continued approval can be given only to institutes which place all its cadets / more than 90% of its cadets on ships. The private institute should not be allowed to brush aside their responsibility as they lured the youth by lucrative advertisement.
4.       Though the DGS circular 15 of 2006 was issued in favour of students of private institutes to be paid a refund for such students not getting shipboard training slots to qualify for 1st level CoC exams, the training Institutes have cleverly manipulated the situation by having this order repealed and supderceded by DGS circulars 1 of 2007 and 1 of 2008. It is now important for DGS to strictly implement the students getting partial refund of their fees or sailing slots in some reputed shipping company.
5.       The first three batches of BE students from Vels University, Chennai should be conferred their degree status from IMU/or any other authorized University approved by UGC that these students may be able to pursue their higher studies in India or abroad.  The University authorities should be answerable for their default from their responsibility, this  being a serious lapse tantamount to defrauding innocent public.

6.        The 5th engineer and the Deck cadet’s ranks should be made mandatory on ships registered in India to increase the employment opportunity.  Issue should be taken up with the IMO to insist, ship’s registered with other flags to follow suit.
7.        The CDC should be issued only against the sponsorship from the shipping company to prevent the agents using the CDC as a tool for cheating.
8.         All the advertisement released by the private and the IMU calling for admissions should have the approval from DGS and clearly indicate the course  approval by AICTE / UGC etc., and the true placement record.
9.       The DGS should make adequate publicity to sensitise public, with vide coverage in the North Eastern states to prevent the unaware youth becoming victims to the touts and agents.
10.     No new institute to be given approval. If any approval is given in the recent past and the institute is yet to begin admission, the given approval should be Withdrawn. There is an industry vide opinion that some institute want to change over completely to GME programme (to offer one year training to the BE Mechanical graduates) to replace the present B.Tech and BS marine engineering, this would also create another crisis. Such change over can be approved IF AND ONLY IF the backlog of cadets is cleared. To be verified by the data base as mentioned in point no.1.
11.     Steps should be taken to prevent agents and the unscrupulous persons making money by offering the so called mass training on board ship by collecting huge money from the aspiring and eligible cadets and ratings stating that these training will make them “certified officer” , “certified rating” and they can get placed on ships once they become certified. Such fleecing activity should be curtailed once and for all. The Ministry of Shipping should provide such training to ensure competence, and to keep up Indian’s traditional positions as the best sea farers producing nation. 
12.    The  BE (Marine Engineering) / B.Sc Nautical  Science graduates, can be offered to undergo  some bridge course to enable them to get a qualification acceptable to AICTE / UGC to enable them to   pursue further studies/ seek job elsewhere, without involving any cost. The DGS should take initiative and seek the help of    “The Ministry of Human Resources” to chalk out a programme to help these unfortunate youth. Power Engineers Training Society, under ministry of power can be requested to train the BE Marine candidates to enable them to join power stations.
13.   We urge DG Shipping to make all out efforts to ensure every one of the backlog trainees who have come out of the training institutes (Approved by DGS) will be offered a shipboard training slot at no burden of additional expenditure.  Having spent enormous money already through their graduation (through loans secured from banks), this is an URGENT requirement.
  
            During the past years, the DGS always responded positively and rendered justice to any appeal made by me on behalf of sailing sea fares.  I hope and trust this appeal on behalf of the innocent youth would also receive proper attention and  action from the DGS  to bring an assurance to the affected youth.
Thanking you,
Best regards,
                                                                                              
(V.R.Chandran).
TO
SHRI.AGNIHOTHRI,
DGS,
MUMBAI.
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1 comment:

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