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Indian Maritime Training Institute TS Rahaman starts 1st Batch of Girl GP Rating with sponsorship by top Class World Shipping Companies.
By Sea and Coast | 14/08/2023
Our Merchant Shipping Act with the newly introduced words- ‘seafarer’ for the conventional ‘seaman’ and ‘young person’ instead of the earlier used ‘boy’, has only partially dignified a lady seafarer. A suggestion had been sent for the introduction of ‘woman seafarer’ in the section on definitions, but this has not found inclusion in any of the bills proposed to replace the Act. 
Another suggestion was deemed too revolutionary to be implemented by some oldies. It was to replace
‘Master’ with a ‘Captain’ in all official nomenclature. Since the MS Bill 2020 is yet to see the light of
the day, the forthcoming amendments to the Act should be open for discussion. 
This article among other things is a plea to our awmakers for engaging the lady seafarer not just in letter, but in essence and spirit. There is a dilemma that our industry has been going through for some time. A school of thought in pursuit of equality, places the lady seafarer on the pedestal of egalitarianism with men. It advocates her treatment to be exactly same as meted to a male seafarer. This line has been counterproductive and indeed used by some prejudiced ship managements to justify harsh treatment. In fact, most harassment / molestation cases on board are hushed up or go unreported. Let's see the root cause of and efforts required to meet these challenges. 
 Our women seafarer needs the societal support of equity, not just equality alone. The former in law means the right combination of equality and natural justice. Therefore, the first step in addressing gender discrimination is accepting gender diversity! Whenever tasks involving physical labour are to be allotted, the men in authority should use prudent discretion. Afterall, if a lady can be deemed lesser in the ability to throw a monkey fist or run up and down a vertical ladder, she more than compensates for such trivialities by being a better communicator on the walkie talkie and immaculate in her paperwork. The very fact that she has come this far despite the odds is a testimony for her intent, commitment, and dedication. 
Let's ponder on the areas where ladies have been successful, even a step ahead of their menfolk. Medicine, Teaching, Banking, Political welfare. Do majority of the lady doctors, nurses, teachers, bankers, and legislators wear the same dress as their male counterparts? Does the exuberance of femininity make them less capable in those occupations? As a matter of fact, it makes them comfortable and productive. Men should remember, or continually be reminded of the basic etiquettes that they need to apply towards a lady, now that she is also a colleague at sea. 
The elementary human courtesies and niceties that a lady deserves simply cannot go away. Remember that before becoming a seaman, you are a man first! It's foolhardy to resist an idea whose time has come, and it makes sense to gracefully accept our women force in the merchant marine. 
 In the academies, the seniormost lady student at the institute usually has the honour 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 maritime institutes and ships are without womenfolk today! In line with UNDP SDG V and STCW 95' resolution, reputed colleges like FOSMA Noida charge only half the course fee from a girl student. These interim corrections should have a clear timeline of descending usage. Our 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' [Educate girls, save the girl child] initiative to promote gender equality and employment opportunities is self-defeating in its call. The slogan should have been presented as 'Nari samman; Desh mahaan' [Woman's respect; Glorious state]. 
Wherever men find that there's a long queue and ladies are likely to be uncomfortable, offering them a separate line is only very elementary Indianness. Obviously, our women are not demanding it; Only we don't want to miss those opportunities that distinguish us from others. 
"Yatr naryastu pujayante, ramante tatr devatah!" [ Where ladies are worshipped, God exists!]