NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Manoj Yadav Forward Seamen's Union of India
By Manoj Yadav | 18/10/2018

Shipping Industry: Historical and Present Scenario

History of maritime India: India has longtime maritime history. In the excavation of Indus River valley, there found optimum relics of miniature images of ships boats and vessels inscribed on the seals. These evidences show the remarkable progress of ancient Indian maritime industry. History of maritime industry in India dates back up to 2500 BCE.  Indus valley civilization is regarded as one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It had maritime trade relations with Mesopotamia, Sumeria and Egypt as it had a well-equipped dock at Lothal (Gujarat) which is known as the world's ever first dock. Ancient Indian civilization could flourish with the help of its maritime industry predominantly. As we enter the golden era of Indian maritime industry, we see in history of India the mighty Mauryas, Satavahanas, Guptas and in South India, the contemporary ruling dynasties like, Cholas Cheras, Pandyas, Pallavas had well equipped navy. Especially, the Cholas were known as the most formidable naval power among them. All these ancient Indian dynasties had trade relations with Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Arabia, China and even with Indonesia, Malaysia and Indo-China. The impact of Indian civilization on the far south- east countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Indo-China is still seen there. This shows that India was then a formidable naval power. The Indian ships and vessels were sailed by the Indians in the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. It is also said that India shared 42% of the total world's trade. This could be possible due to the well equipped ships and vessels though they were made of wooden boards and planks and had multiple masts.  However, the Indian maritime industry of that time boasted rightly about its glory. The Indian ships and vessels were enough able to carry out hundreds of passengers and cargoes. By the end of the ancient era of India, the golden age of Indian naval power also came to an end. Indian maritime industry could not flourish again during medieval era. The Delhi Sultanates especially, even mighty Mughal Empire though they had their own navy could not withstand before the modern and formidable European naval powers like the British, French, Portuguese and Dutch. Especially, British were the most formidable naval power among them. The Maratha naval force during the regime of Shivaji Maharaj was enough strong to face the foreign challenges. But the Pesha was not interested in maritime industry and naval force. Instead of it they sank the Angres navy by joining the hands with the British power. Modern Era of Maritime Industry: During the British rule, the shipping industry reached at the peak, as the British introduced most efficient steam engine runner ships and vessels. The British rule had known the importance of shipping industry from their trade and warfare points of view. In the beginning of the twentieth century, some patriot Indian Merchants as well as the industrialists also knew the importance of shipping industry for the sake of future of country. The leading name among them was Walchand Hirachand an industrialist who initiated in the formation of modern maritime industry. “The Scandia steam Navigation Company founded in 1919, envisioned by Walchand Hirachand. At time of independence of India there were 33 vessels occupied by Indian navy. Many private shipping company were established after independence the two shipping company named Eastern Shipping Corporation and Western Shipping Corporation were merged into Shipping Corporation of India in 1973  and 1986 respectively.

Since the establishment Shipping Corporation of India in Mumbai Shipping industry started to flourish .In 1992,SCI was changed from Private Limited Company to Public Limited Company .Now, 42%of the total Inland as well as Offshore Trade which carried out through SCI.Therefore ,SCI was  rightly glorified and awarded as “ Navratana “status by the Government of India in 2008 Present Scenario of Shipping Industry : There are 12 major ports and 187 minor ports along the coast of India. Almost 90% of the country’s international trade and inland trade .lare conducted by the sea. India has now 1071 ships including 722 coastal and 349 overseas ships. The shipping industry in India comprises public sector as well as private sector companies.SCI is the only public sector enterprise owned by Government of India. The private sector shipping companies are increasing in numbers. But most of these companies are irresponsible in nature and they have lost their standard and reliability due to their self-oriented profit making attitude in which the principle of welfare of their seafarers and the other crewmembers is considered to be negligible. Most of these shipping companies do not get themselves registered as it is mandatory for them as per the maritime related laws. SCI has been mostly reluctant in taking action against such companies. This shows that these companies breach rules conducted by SCI. The private manning agents and their agencies are endemically spreading all over India just like plague.

These private manning have been cheating the innocent seafarers in the name of training as they extort lakhs of rupees. Such many illegal manning agencies are there in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Delhi and the rest of India.Such agencies even conduct bogus training courses which are not recognized by SCI. And the most important thing is that, SCI has yet not curbed them sufficiently despite the complaints made by the seafarers to SCI against the fraudulent manning agencies. When the seafarers made the complaints to the local authorities and the police against these bogus manning agencies for cheating, all these authorities remained reluctant in taking action. One best example is there of an Andheri-Mumbai based Halani Shipping Pvt. Ltd. who recently has abandoned its crewmembers working onboard vessels abroad and in the sea nearby Mumbai. These vessels got stranded in the sea somewhere. Thus, Halani Shipping Pvt. Ltd. has left its crewmembers relentlessly onboard vessels since last six months. Moreover, the seafarers who were demanding to the above mentioned shipping company to get their six months payment pending with company. The company made hesitation in making payment to the seafarers. Meanwhile, very few seafarers could receive payment from the company. The company compelled most of the crewmembers to live in adverse condition.  These crewmembers are still in awaiting the justice. Such many other private shipping companies are there like Halani Shipping Pvt. Ltd. have been declared bankrupts are Pratibha Shipping , Gol Offshore etc. Despite this, they are still free to exploit their seafarers. The helpless seafarers cannot have bright future if they are cheated by such companies. Their career as seafarers may come in danger. Such illicit activities of the fraudulent companies must be prevented on all grounds.

For the Development of the Shipping Industry:  Recently, it is seen that , No any such remarkable growth and development observed in shipping industry which could sustain its fundamental aims.

We know it better that offshore marine transport was already developed well. Even the water transport along the coastline of India is also relatively well developed. But the inland waterways could not flourish well in respect to working condition of seafarer and their fundamental right . As we know it that India has hundreds of rivers which are enough long and some of them are perennial too. For example, the Ganga, the Jumna,  the Kaveri , the Godavari, the Narmada etc. are the perennial rivers through which inland waterways can be drawn from the inland transport and passenger services point of view. If these facilities are made available, the dwindling position of shipping industry can be recovered. Simultaneously, the burden over the roadways transport may be minimized. It will also save the valuable petroleum fuel. As the shipping industry plays an important role in the development of India, Government of India should take initiation to encourage inland waterways transport. Because ,it has great potential to provide employment to the people of rural areas of India . This will also  diminish the rate of unemployment in some scale. The development and progress of maritime industry will lead country to the prosperity as India was earlier known for its maritime glory in its history.