NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Nirvana to NCR’s maritime education

Nirvana to NCR’s maritime education

Education enables growth of and contributes to the realization of a nation’s dreams. For achieving quality in education, guidelines and instructions need to be followed in spirit and in effect. Our government controls corporate interference by keeping an education institute as a non-profit concern. Same arrives from sec 8 of the refurbished Companies Act of 2013. On the other hand, most DG approved institutes go for money minting by focusing on simulator & modular courses, leaving the competency course challenges for others. They charge high fees and involve themselves in irregularities. DG shipping has started digital certification and exit exams to address the above matters. But clearly, quality in training is a race where there is no finishing line and thus needs a constant vigil. There is a huge potential for employment generation in the form of jobs in world shipping and Indians are traditionally recognized and respected as professionally sound. This baton needs to be passed on to the youth by serious training. In a technologically driven world, we need to move abreast with the world and education is a key element to achieve the same. Who knows if my next article could be written by a ChatGPT and not me!

The Pre-Sea Institutes

They form the first impression of our industry. They are also closely associated with employment on the ship. In a recession ridden industry, the shipboard training berths available have become scarce.  A seafarer trained by a pre-sea institute is like a hot potato and his placement on the first ship is the weakest link in his career progression. Cadet officer’s training at NCR carried out by ARI, IMI and SIMS is under the Indian Maritime University affiliation, and therefore bearing the brunt of over-regulation. The sponsorship letters from companies come at a price and many are not honored after completion of training. There are also irregularities and delays in the issue of SSTP certificates to DLP cadets.  On the other hand, ratings training at NCR based Aquatech, IMI, J. Sons and SIMS vastly improved over the past few years under the guardianship of the Board of Examination of Seafarers. Unfortunately, the BES role has been diluted & it’s Common Entrance Test CET for candidate selection scrapped under court orders. BES is now limited only to the exit examination of ratings i.e., after their training is over.  

Higher Maritime Education at Delhi NCR

The history of higher Maritime Education at Delhi started in 1990 with the opening of the post- sea Maritime Institute by FOSMA i.e.) Foreign Ship Owners Representatives and Manager's Association in hired premises at Qutub Institutional Area. The Institute was initially started as a small move to consolidate the bargaining powers of FOSMA whose members were at times harshly accused of poaching away trained seafarers from Indian shipping companies. The unavailability of seats in the Indian GMDSS course around the country and the hardships faced by seafarers belonging to these companies was the immediate trigger that culminated in setting up of this special purpose vehicle humbly known then as ‘Maritime Institute’ at Delhi. With time, dedicated teachers for the cause of education and research and committed to serve the local population joined FMIRO (FOSMA Maritime Institute and Research Organisation).

The inspiration from role models saw an exponential rise in numbers. In 1996, the institute shifted premises to a rented building at Lado Sarai, continued the noble service and was very popular in the maritime community at Delhi. Though it was a DG Shipping audited & approved Institute with no private benefactors and owned jointly by a group of 32 shipping companies; In 2006 it was mercilessly closed by the local government under the sealing drive. It has taken a few years to restart FMIRO in FOSMA’s own premises at Noida. Merchant navy is a revered profession primarily in the north. Yet our MPs from Kolkata and Chennai were competing cut-throat to get the Indian Maritime University to their cities. Dharna & canvassing by DMK politicians has taken it to Chennai where it continues to die a slow death due to the lack of people support!

Womenfolk in Shipping

Our Merchant Shipping Act with newly introduced words- ‘seafarer’ for the conventional ‘seaman’ & ‘young person’ for ‘boy’, has dignified a lady seafarer. In the academies, the seniormost lady student at the institute usually has the honor to unfurl the national flag on occasions like National Maritime Day and on the eve of Independence and Republic Day. Similar traditions are expected to be followed on ships; Only most Indian ships are without womenfolk today!  

Reputed maritime colleges like FOSMA Noida offer 50% fees rebate to girl students. This is in line with UNDP SDG V, STCW 95’ resolution as well as our ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ [ Educate girls, save the girl child] initiative to promote gender equality and employment opportunities for women in the Maritime Industry.

“Yatr naryastu pujayante, ramante tatr devatah!” [ Where ladies are worshipped, God exists!]


In the late 90s, efforts by the FMIRO principal Late Capt. S.S. Rewari and by the FOSMA Directors stationed at Mumbai convinced DG Shipping to start monthly facilitations at Deep Bhavan in Sector 24 Noida. It took the arduous determination of Capt. Harish Khatri then Surveyor-In-Charge MMD to convert a dusty chair into a full-fledged office. Next few years saw its growth and deck officers’ orals including those of Master FG were regularly getting conducted at Deep Bhavan. Later in 2017, under Late Capt. Sundaram and C.Eng Mr. Meena, it shifted premises next to the metro station at Sector 15 Noida, i.e) to  its present location on 3rd floor of Inland Waterways of India building at Sector 1 of Noida.

Local jurisdictional MMDs around the country force institute teachers into file making, invigilation, paper correction and orals examination at/for MMD, thereby distracting the institutes from objectives of learning. The archaic system of physical files smacks of inefficiency, more so if candidate’s files are required to travel multiple voyages between the institute and facilitation center. Then, there is a small window of time intimated verbally and well before course completion in which the files must be sent or else, they are rejected. GMDSS exam that can be conducted at the MMD is regularly getting done at the institutes. To cater to the same, the competency lectures are postponed to off days. An officer who witnesses sturdy organization and high level of discipline on the ship, is put off by the glaring lack of it ashore. The unveiled intent to piggyback needs to be checked. Is the Facilitation center for facilitation and or is it to expect its own facilitation from students and institutes!

Debate on old versus new

i) There is an emerging consensus that the syllabi of competency grades need refurbishing and elements of celestial navigation and chartwork phased out. This contrasts with the view that knowledge be preserved at all costs.

ii)  Comparison of an objective type of exam with the present theory papers. That objective type system already exists for MEO papers is being presented as an argument to justify it for nautical side. One solution that fixes all problems does not exist. On the deck side, there is a greater requirement for physical realism and communication skills than for engineers where behavioral knowledge-based information is critical.

iii) There is brainstorming on on-board hands-on training versus classroom one at the colleges. Unless dedicated on board trainers are available on board and until dedicated training ships evolve, the case for institute-based courses and curriculum shall remain very strong.  Only in the sacred space of a classroom can the performances of a teacher and a student be optimum and learning satisfactory. The motivation that a pupil achieves in group learning simply cannot be simulated in a one-on-one session.


“As you sow, so shall you reap!”