Sunday, 17 June 2012

Unemployment Chronicle I

The unemployment problem in Merchant Navy at entry level is already in its 3rd year. With absolutely no action taken by the authorities to control the situation the problem is only poised to deteriorate. Here we bring you collection of four letters sent to the DGS and other authorities over past few months by Senior Marine Consultant Mr. S. Govindarajan. None of these letters have received any response from the authorities they were addressed to. 

"...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 !

21 September 2011 15:32
To: ''
Subject: Absence of employment opportunities for new aspinrants n merchant shipping

Thiru. G.K.Vasan
The Honourable Minister of Shipping

Dear Honourable Minister Thiru Vasan,

I am marine Chief engineer having associated with the shipping industry for last 42 years in various capacities.  The last 12 years I had devoted towards imparting training to both post sea and pre-sea categories of students.

I wish to bring the following matters of concern to your respected Shipping Ministry to Govt. of India,  to enable necessary steps from the Government of India level, to bring relief  and hope to a large number of qualified marine graduates (nautical & marine  engineering)  who are being denied opportunities to sail on board for fulfilling the sea time requirements for taking up even the 1st level of certificate of competency examinations.

I am deeply  saddened with the present state of affairs when  successful marine students coming out of the DGS approved institutions are unable find their feet on ships for furthering their career path.  The result is one of frustration for these young lots and seen as great opportunity for unscrupulous agents /touts to whom the young aspirants fall prey.  Lot of parents have called me over phone and in person to express their sorrow and dismay over their ward’s future.

In my recent capacity as the Director of Maritime Studies, School of Maritime Studies, Vels University, I made efforts to contact many shipping companies with our invitation for taking up campus placement and as well as post campus interviews for the boys for selection to go to sea.  The response received was quite inadequate to promise placement for all the nautical and marine engineering students.  The reasons attributed for inability from some shipping companies is as follows:

1.       The shipping business is low and their fleet strength is much reduced.
2.       Quite a number of their managed ships have shifted over to other nationals,  as better choice.
3.       Some companies are constrained to absorb the entire lot of students passing out of DMET/MERI, due to their obligation to satisfy DG Shipping/IMU.
4.       Many of the companies having their own training institute started,  have enough supplies of cadets of both streams.
5.       Quite many companies have said that they are full up as selected cadets are themselves in long waiting list for many months, not justifying new recruitments
6.       Some Indian companies are unable to accommodate trainee cadets, for want of life boat capacity.

It is quite a heart-breaking experience hearing every day from anxious cadets denied even an opportunity for the fairness of personal interview in shipping companies. Students after spending a large sum (either through parents selling their properties or burdensome loans with EMI dues threatening them) towards their education in private training Institutes find themselves useless, redundant,  unwelcome even at their entry level to the shipping Industry.  Their  experiences are contrary to the attractive media adverts, from training Institutes, brain washing the new aspirants with false promises about shaping up their dream career in shipping to reality, if only they graduate through their Institutes.  Much is done to enforce a life of regimentation and discipline in the marine training institutes, without a positive promise of their future assured job on ships.

I am of the view that It is wrong on the part of the DGS Administration to expect the training Institutes to provide shipboard slots, while it is not their specialised area.  If it was the DGS administration who opened up the gates of training through private training Institutes, it is then the DGS responsibility to provide the necessary minimum shipboard training slots for all students, duly admitted under the DGS approved schemes . When the private training institutes were given approval for conducting the graduate courses in maritime education, DGS should have ensured that MASSA/FOSMA oriented and all other Indian shipping companies will only converge their tie up with definite intake from DGS approved training institutes, unified with standards stipulated by DGS.  On the other hand, DGS continued granting approvals to the shipping companies opening up their own pre-sea training centres, ignoring already approved training centres.  Well if this is considered a wiser step, then why DGS allowed private training Institutes not meeting with standards expected by shipping companies?

I am of the opinion that the Onus heavily rests only on the DGS Administration and Shipping Ministry of Govt. of India to immediately respond to the sorry plight of unemployed young and energetic marine graduates, looking up for senior responsible officials to pave way to their future.

I wish to point out at this juncture, Your respected Ministry should not spare any effort to  most urgently acquire at least ten training ships, catering for the necessary minimum on board training for the waiting nautical and engineering cadets, throwing no financial burden on these cadets, who have already heavily incurred expenditure towards their maritime education.

To rationalise maritime education, I am of the firm opinion that the 3 years degree stream of BSc (Nautical studies) and 4 years Degree stream of BE marine engineering should be abolished or at least suspended for a period of time, till such time all backlogs are cleared for marine graduates facing uncertain future.  To assist the private training Institutes to make effective use of their infrastructures, BE degree approvals could be converted towards more seats of intake of graduate engineers from different fields of specialisation and BSc nautical studies limited short pre-sea training followed by  3 years cadet ship (distant learning) like what used to be practised in the past years.

I urge your strong leadership to consider the contents of my appeal most seriously in favour of anxiously awaiting cadets of both nautical and engineering streams.  In my opinion, there is an atmosphere calling for urgent  steps likened to an emergent situation of hostage of a ship falling into the hands of pirates.  How can the plight of disappointed marine graduates any different from piracy hostages,  resulted as an outcome of rash decisions made by our Shipping Administration of our nation?

Warm regards

Yours Sincerely

Marine Consultant

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