Category Archives: General
Published in Sagar Sandesh Maritime Weekly (edition dtd Dec 26, 2012)
“It is worth recalling here that Sagar Sandesh had been burning midnight oil by continuously publishing news articles about the plight of the 10,000-odd DNS cadets, who are yet to complete their courses for want of 18-month seatime.”
The Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) has dished out Christmas and New Year gifts to DNS cadets, who would be languishing in future begging for sea-time, by issuing a directive to the maritime institutes, which are eligible for admitting students for February-2013 Batch, to admit only ‘sponsored candidates.’
While the new condition on selection of candidates for the new batch would drastically reduce the intake for the season, it’s not going to provide any solace to the 10,000-odd students, stuck without sea-time training.
In its latest circular, released on Dec. 17, to the 11 maritime institutes in the country that are allowed to admit students for the February-2013 DNS Batch, the DG Shipping categorically said that the institutes should select only such candidates for whom they can provide the on-board training for 18 months (SSTP) through proper tie-up with the shipping companies / ship management agencies/ RPSL, or who are sponsored.
The whole admission process is being held by the Indian Maritime University, Chennai.
Besides, the DGS has also come out strongly that the responsibility of putting such selected candidates for 18-month Shipboard Structured Training Programme (SSTP) will be that of the Maritime Training Institutes.
Candidates selected by the Maritime Training Institutes will have to pass the entrance examination (CET) conducted by the Indian Maritime University, Chennai, which is likely to be held on Jan. 20, 2013.
Furthermore, the DG Shipping instructed the institutes to send the list of such selected /shortlisted candidates for the DNS Course of February 2013 Batch, after ensuring their onboard training arrangements, to the IMU before Jan. 15.
According to academic experts who are closely following the DNS debacle, the latest posture by the DGS towards maritime institutes would help weed out problems that are plaguing the whole system for years.
However, they also made a fervent appeal to the DG Shipping to keep a constant vigil over these institutes to ensure smooth SSTP for the cadets who would be admitted in the February 2013 DNS Batch.
It is worth recalling here that Sagar Sandesh had been burning midnight oil by continuously publishing news articles about the plight of the 10,000-odd DNS cadets, who are yet to complete their courses for want of 18-month seatime.
During such relentless campaign for the hapless DNS cadets through news reports, the first positive response came from the current Vice-Chancellor of the Indian Maritime University, who openly advocated for scrapping the course, if there is no market.
Though the DGS’ latest circular can be termed a half victory in the long-drawn battle, coming out with proper options for the waiting DNS cadets would alone help the maritime education to reach its pinnacle once again, experts feel.
The list of institutes conducting February-2013 Batch of one-year DNS Course leading to B. Sc (Nautical Science)
1. Anglo Eastern Academy, Karjat.
2. Applied Research International, New Delhi.
3. Great Eastern Shipping Co. Training Institute, Lonavala.
4. HIMT College, Kanchipuram.
5. International Maritime Institute, Greater Noida.
6. MMTI’s Educational Trust, Khalapur, Raigad
7. Sailors Maritime Academy, Visakhapatnam.
8. Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, Lonavala
9. Southern Academy of Maritime Studies, Chennai.
10. T S Rahaman, Navi Mumbai.
11. Viswakarma Maritime Institutes, Pune.
Published in Sagar Sandesh Maritime Weekly’s Dec 12 edition
-Whereas the Titanic collided with an iceberg, the Costa Concordia hit an underwater rock
-Trust in technology may in both cases have affected the attitude of the navigators of such ships
By Capt S Bhardwaj
Titanic was supposed to be the ‘unsinkable’ then; Costa Concordia was also a masterpiece of modern technology. Despite more than 100 years of regulatory and technological progress in maritime safety, accidents do occur.
Both the cases involved state-of-the-art cruise ships – although the same state and the stage have obviously changed dramatically in the 100 years in between.
Whereas the Titanic collided with an iceberg, the Costa Concordia hit an underwater rock. In both the incidents the ships were subjected to an unexpected and massive flooding.
While the maritime technology has changed beyond recognition between 1912 and 2012, human factors and organizational factors have not.
Organizations have, of course, changed in the way they carry out their work, due to increased horizontal and vertical integration made possible by ubiquitous information technology.
But the thinking and attitudes of management have changed less and may possibly not have changed at all, at least when it comes to such issues as risk taking and prioritization of issues relating to operational safety.
The purpose is rather to show that accidents still happen for the same underlying human and organizational reasons, despite the technological progress in the past 100 years and despite all safety regulations and precautions. It is remarkable that certain underlying conditions are still the same today as at the time of the Titanic.
It is even more remarkable – and worse, regrettable – that the accident investigations and the reactions to accidents more or less are the same now as they were 100 years ago.
Authority gradient and its influence on communication
The term “authority gradient” refers to the distribution of decision-making and the balance, or imbalance, of authority and power in a group or organization, usually in relation to a specific type of situation. Although it is rarely considered by the maritime industry, it plays an important role in, e.g., health care or aviation. It is used to describe how easy or difficult it may be for someone with a lower authority to question or challenge somebody with a higher authority. The authority gradient is itself influenced by a number of other factors, such as education, social background, gender, age, professional roles and perceived expertise.
Cognitive hysteresis – resistance to revising a situation assessment
The term cognitive hysteresis – or psychological fixation – describes the situation where people fail to revise their initial assessments in response to new evidence, particularly evidence that diverges from the expected (Woods et al. 2010). While the initial situation assessment may have been appropriate at the time it was made, the cognitive hysteresis means that neither the assessment nor the chosen course of action is revised even if an opportunity for that arises.
A similar case of the Titanic or the Costa Concordia may have contributed to a situation where the masters held on to an imprecise or incorrect picture of the situation. He might have been so convinced by this wrong mental picture of the situation that it would have required some external questioning by his officers to force him to realize that the situation was different from what he assumed.
Unanticipated consequences of new technology:
Another reason for underestimating risks may be reliance on new technology. The Titanic was considered a masterpiece of naval architecture in 1912. This might have led to the belief that a collision with an iceberg could be survived and that the ship would stay afloat even with severe structural damage to the hull.
In 2012, the Costa Concordia was equipped with significantly better technology. The navigation equipment alone provided an accurate position of the ship at any time on the sea chart and also showed the predicted future positions given the current course and speed.
Trust in technology may in both the cases have affected the attitude of the navigators of such ships.
Organizational influences (latent conditions)
Today ISM gives “overriding authority” to Master. Even Titanic master received a letter which he had to sign and return. The letter stated that “You are to dismiss all idea of competitive passages with other vessels and to concentrate your attention upon a cautious, prudent and ever watchful system of navigation, which shall lose time or suffer any other temporary inconvenience rather than incur the slightest risk which can be avoided.”
But there was also a conflicting message from management. In the Titanic accident report, Lord Mersey, the Judge heading the investigation, commented “Its root is probably to be found in the competition and in the desire of the public for quick passages rather in the judgement of the navigators”.
A similar dilemma can be found in the case of Costa Concordia, where the company advertised that the ship would sail a “touristy” sailing course close to land. The case is not simply that organizations (the blunt end) give one message – like “safety first” – but neglect to follow-up on it. The case is rather that organizations want to have their cake and eat it too, by emphasizing both safety and productivity. This creates a psychological and social conflict at the sharp end, where the outcome is uncertain.
In shipping operations, as in any other industry, time and resource constraints affect the day-to-day routines. The time and the measures taken to ensure safety operations have to be balanced with economical considerations in the commercial operation of a ship.
The desire to arrive in time with the ship has indeed often played a fatal role in accidents, such as Herald of Free Enterprise in1987 (DoT 1987), Estonia in 1994 (Joint Accident Investigation Commission 1997), the MSC Napoli in 2007 (Marine Accident Investigation Branch 2008) and of course the Titanic.
Maritime accident investigation & persistent human factors issues
Accident investigations very often seem to be constrained by the principles of What-You-Look- For-Is-What-You-Find and What-You-Find-Is-What-You-Fix Maritime accident investigations have traditionally looked for one or more distinct causes and tried to address them one by one, as if they were independent of each other. The near universal assumption, expressed by the causality credo, is that every effect has a cause, and that the cause usually can be determined to be a failure or malfunction of a “component” – be it technological, human or organizational.
According to this logic, if we can find and fix the failure or the malfunction, then the risk will be reduced or even eliminated and safety therefore increased.
The causality credo, however, limits the scope of investigations to concrete and tangible causes, but neglects a host of other factors that are less conspicuous and have a more indirect influence. As the comparison of the fates that befell the Titanic and the Costa Concordia however shows, accidents seem to happen for the same underlying human and organizational reasons even though they are separated by a century of improvements to technology and safety regulations.
In the wider perspective, the really important question is therefore not why these and many other ships have foundered, but rather why these reasons remain and why accident investigations and the reactions to them are more or less the same now as they were 100 years ago.
One explanation is that safety thinking that focuses on things that go wrong or could go wrong, such as near misses, incidents and accidents.
The alternative perspective, called Safety-II, focuses on the situations of everyday work where things go right. In this case the purpose of safety efforts is to facilitate the performance adjustments that are necessary for everyday work to succeed, i.e., not only try to avoid things going wrong, but also try to ensure that they go right.
This cannot be done without understanding how things happen, including the many human and organizational factors that determine how work is carried out, for example the authority gradient, group think, cognitive hysteresis, unanticipated consequences of new technology, latent organizational conditions, and the ubiquitous trade-offs between efficiency and thoroughness.
If no one is looking for the human and organizational factors described in this write-up, no one will find them. And if no one finds them, no one will do anything about them. Yet investigations of accidents in today’s complex work environments cannot afford to look only at “component” malfunctions and failures. Actual safety improvements will not occur until we understand how functions depend on each other and at how seemingly subtle changes and performance variability can lead to out-of-scale outcomes.
Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs & Michael Baldauf (Maritime Risk and Safety (MaRiSa) Research Group, World Maritime University)
E. Hollnagel, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.
– Both the masters were very experienced and had immaculate service records prior to the accidents. They had spent their entire professional life at sea without larger accidents.
– Both of them were aware of the potential dangers, but felt that the risks were so small that they could easily be controlled.
– In the case of the Titanic, no officer on the bridge objected to the navigation of the ship. So far, no information has been published to show that officers on the Costa Concordia disagreed with the manoeuvres of the master.
– In both the incidents, the shipping companies (White Star Line and Costa Crociere respectively) either tacitly approved or even encouraged the masters’ decisions to prioritize performance over safety.
– Both accidents resulted in emergency situations for which the ships were not built (beyond design-base accidents). Both scenarios were also considered as being highly unlikely.
– In both accident scenarios, difficulties during evacuation occurred.
Published in Sagar Sandesh English Maritime Weekly Tabloid on Dec 5, 2012 edition
While resentment against the continuation of Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) programme among the more than 10,000 sea-time waiting cadets is growing day by day, conflicting signals, instead of positive, are emanating from Indian Maritime University (IMU) about the future of the course.
According to the latest notification from the IMU, decision to conduct IMU Common Entrance Test (CET) for February 2013 batch is yet to be taken in consultation with DG Shipping. “The same will be notified (to the affiliated institutes) after the decision is taken,” read the notification.
Normally, notification for IMU-CET February batch for the one-year DNS course leading to B.Sc. Nautical Science Programme on IMU campus and its affiliated institutes will be issued by November every year and the test will be conducted around December.
“While these 10,000-odd cadets are still waiting for mandatory 18 months sea-time to complete their degree, why IMU is still thinking of continuing the course, which would only add to the already bulged list,” is the agony of the affected students.
Meanwhile, Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) in a circular requested all the pre-sea institutes to submit the placement records of the candidates passed out from their institutes, during the years 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Whereas the submission of placement record has been made mandatory as per DGS Circular No.1 of 2008, till date many institutes have not submitted the required placement records – the circular noted the state-of-the affairs in maritime education.
According to sources, the move would help the DG Shipping to analyze the demand and supply pattern in the industry which is likely to influence on the future of the DNS programme.
“Stop the DNS course at once to give opportunity for those 10,000-odd cadets, who came to maritime institutes with loads of dream of becoming officers onboard,” declared Dr. R. Lakshmipathy, President of R.L. Institute of Nautical Sciences, Madurai (RLINS).
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, Dr. Lakshmipathy said: “My prayer now to DG Shipping, the Shipping Ministry and Indian Maritime University (IMU) is that let them sit together and find out a permanent solution to this burning problem.”
“From my point of view, as a responsible man inculcating maritime education to thousands of students for more than a decade, banning the DNS programme, like the ban on the Ratings enforced earlier, will be the perfect answer to those 10,000 plus students who are at crossroads,” Dr. Lakshmipathy opined.
This ban should not be lifted at any cost unless and until the entire glut is totally cleared and confirmed with appropriate proof that the hapless cadets are absorbed by the shipping companies and suitably placed, he suggested.
Dr. Lakshmipathy lamented that the IMU is plagued by corruption, nepotism, favouritism and the like.
Maintaining this ‘white elephant’, a Himalayan blunder committed by the predecessors, is a Herculean task for the current Vice Chancellor, Prof. G. Raghuram, and the new Chancellor, Dr. V. Krishnamoorthy, but they alone -with their past history of integrity, commitment and determination – can clean the Augean table with an iron hand coupled with a soft corner for the uncared for cadets. While appreciating the goal and intention of the present VC and DGS, he appealed to them to mercilessly weed out the unwanted elements and remove the excess staff who are indeed a pain in the neck of IMU, apart from being a burden to the august body.
With regard to the Union Shipping Minister’s version of fund crunch, Dr. R. Lakshmipathy urged the Central Government to make separate allocation in the annual Union Budget. It is not fair and proper to allow or ask the educational institutions to raise funds to make good the deficit, from the hard-earned money of students, who sell their property and jewels or secure loans from banks, to pursue their studies in the ambition of becoming a seafarer.
V-C WAS POSITIVE
When Sagar Sandesh brought to light the issue of growing mismatch in demand and supply in DNS programme a few months ago, Prof. G. Raghuram, Vice- Chancellor of Indian Maritime University (IMU), had said that if the market is not there, the varsity should freeze the DNS course.
He also made it in crystal clear terms that there are thoughts (in the IMU circle) as to why not make it a B.Sc directly due to non-availability of 18-month sea-time slots for DNS cadets (by doing away with DNS diploma programme).
It is learnt that the IMU is under tremendous pressure from its affiliated institutions not to take any decision on DNS programme soon. According to informed sources in IMU, many institutions, which have invested heavily on infrastructure creation to accommodate any multiples of 40 students in a batch, are against any such a decision by IMU and any forced reduction in the prescribed intake of students or total suspension of the course would affect them very badly.
At this juncture, Dr. Lakshmipathy came down heavily on those money-minting institutions which take shelter in the name of infrastructure, claiming that they will have to suffer a huge loss if DNS or any such course is banned. If an embargo is enforced in all earnestness on these institutions, which may have proper infrastructure like chart-rooms and class-rooms, the already created ‘infrastructure’ can very well be utilized for teaching other courses or for any other academic related matters. Hence the question of incurring loss does not arise at all. Some of the avaricious institutions without basic amenities admit any number of ambitious students, make them the scapegoats in due course and leave them in the lurch subsequently – only to amass wealth to the coffer of the managements!
“Come what may, loss is not the matter but the cause is my concern. In R.L. Institute of Nautical Sciences, we have stopped admission for B.Sc. (Nautical Technology) Course for the past two years as we do not want to produce cadets whose future will be in jeopardy”, he pointed out.
It is a pity to note that amidst this critical situation, these institutes have been approved with an intake capacity of 120, 160, 240, 247 etc.
DGS / IMU should pay immediate attention to collect the placement details of these institutes and monitor them with regard to DNS – both the placement as well as the infrastructure.
TASK FOR DGS
With the maritime educationists openly advocating for freeze in intake for DNS programme until the demand-supply ratio settles at a healthy point, Mr. Gautam Chatterjee, the new Director General of Shipping (DGS), who took over the hot seat recently, has a big task in his hand to streamline the whole system before it assumes a monstrous proportion.
If the new DG Shipping takes some bold measures to fix the problem at once, it would indeed be a welcome gesture for those thousands of cadets who are still waiting for their sea-time slots to get IMU’s B. Sc Nautical Science degree.
Besides, a section of maritime educationists have also demanded the DG Shipping to take steps to reduce the intake of cadets for future DNS batches in recognized institutes on par with their placement records.
“If the system is strictly followed, only sponsored candidates would get their chance to pursue the course which will ultimately help the industry,” a senior member of the fraternity told Sagar Sandesh.
The DNS course is a six-semester (three year) programme constituting three stages. Initially, a candidate is admitted to the one-year residential (2 semesters) presea course and on completion of I & II Semesters, the candidate will be awarded Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS).
This diploma programme is followed by one and a half year (3 Semesters -18 months) on-board ship training and the candidates will be awarded Advanced Diploma in Nautical Science.
After completion of the on-board training, the cadet has to do the sixth semester (the 6 months post-sea training) at the institute. Subsequently he has to appear for both written and oral examinations, conducted by Directorate General of Shipping. On successful passing out he gets 2nd Mate (FG)
Certificate of Competency from DGS and B.Sc. (Nautical Science) degree from Indian maritime University.
After the opening of the maritime training to private sector in 1996-97, there has been mushroom growth in the number of such institutes conducting pre-sea courses, and as on date 138 institutes are approved for conducting various pre-sea training courses of both the discipline –Nautical and Engineering.
In a recent review by the DG Shipping on the approved intake of pre-sea courses against the training berths (sea-timing) the availability has revealed that the intake capacity created for pre-sea courses significantly exceeds the training berths actually available.
During the review, DG Shipping had expressed that the large and rapidly growing backlog of trainee officers who have completed their pre-sea courses, but are unable to get the training berths on board ships — a pre-requisite for their Certificates of Competency in the entry grade — is really a matter of serious concern.
As the Directorate felt that the situation is slowly going out of its control, it has initiated action by imposing a restriction on new approvals/ increase in capacity of the one-year DNS course in 2011.
It may be recalled here that the new approvals of GP and CCMC courses are also under ban since 2003 and 2007 respectively.
As the maritime institutes expressed apprehensions that the effect of elusive sea-time for trainee cadets could spell doom on their future, the DG Shipping discussed the matter in detail with the representatives of the Government, Indian Maritime University and the Shipping Industry to chalk out a real solution.
During the meeting, members agreed that due to bottlenecks of shortage of training berths vis-à-vis the annual output of pre-sea trainees from training institutes, there is an oversupply of cadets who are yet to complete their structured ship board training programme.
Taking a firmer step, the DG Shipping imposed a ban on increase in capacity by restricting new approvals /increase in intake in all pre-sea courses leading to entry level Competency either at the Second Mate level or at the level of MEO Class IV, whether Foreign Going (FG) or Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) .
Though the DG Shipping banned the increase, IMU and its affiliated institutes still continue to admit students in DNS course, thus playing havoc with the lives of innocent youths, who chose the seaborne career for their economic prosperity.
According to information available, the Directorate in 2006 came out with a training circular to put the onus on the training institutes to obtain training slots on-board ships at the end of the graduation, failing which they should compensate the students by refunding the fees they have remitted. Then through DGS circulars in 2007 and 2008, as a measure of relaxation, it modified the strategy putting the
responsibility on the training institutes to tie up with shipping companies to get training slots for their cadets, failing which they should reduce their intake.
Both the cadets with Diploma in Nautical Science and B.Sc have to undergo training, i.e. at the trainee level.
The DNS cadets complete one-year pre-sea training to be awarded the Diploma in Nautical Science Certificate. Then the cadets are required to do the on-board training as a deck cadet for a minimum of
18 months plus 6 months post-sea training prior to the B.Sc (Nautical Science) and the 2nd Mates written and oral exams. Then they, as per the company requirements, are posted as 3rd Officer in the respective ships.
While the B.Sc (NS) cadets are awarded B.Sc Nautical Science Degree from the college after the completion of 3-year pre-sea training in the college, the B.Sc. Nautical Science cadets have to complete a minimum of 12 months of onboard training as a deck cadet. Then appear for 2nd Mates (FG) exams only, after which they are posted as 3rd officer in some ship.
DNS LEADING TO B.SC (N S)
– 1-year Pre-sea Training
– A minimum of 18 months Structured Shipboard Training Programme (SSTP) and
– 6-month course ashore
– 2nd Mates Written and Oral exams
– Award of COC as 2nd Mates (FG) by DGS
– Award of B.Sc. (Nautical Science) degree by IMU
— then the 3rd Officer
BSC NAUTICAL SCIENCE
– 3-year Pre-Sea training (B.Sc Degree awarded by the affiliated university)
– 12 months SSTP (minimum) * 2nd Mates Oral exam Conducted by DGS
– Award of COC as 2nd Mates (FG) by DGS
— then the 3rd Officer
Legal remedy for the malady
It is worth recalling here that the DGS had issued a directive in 2008 to admit only sponsored students so that they do not encounter any problem for sea-time followed by placement. But this direction has been thrown into the winds and the unscrupulous institutions make hay while the sun shines by fleecing the gullible students. Those maritime institutions which sincerely impart education as per schedule and norms are learnt to have made up their minds to seek legal remedy for this ugly malady prevalent on the campus, if the DGS directive is not implemented in letter and spirit forthwith.
by Leila Farsakh
Mahmoud Abbas, PLO chairman and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) told the UN General Assembly in September 2011 that “at a time when the Arab people affirm their quest for democracy — the Arab Spring — the time is now for the Palestinian Spring, the time for independence.” A year later, despite his return to the same podium, independence seems more elusive than ever, and in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians appear unmoved, concerned instead with redefining the Palestinian political agenda.
The Arab Spring has led to an era of democratic aspiration unprecedented in the Middle East. In the Palestinian context, the Arab uprisings have emboldened popular demand to revisit, if not end, the regime that ushered in the Oslo peace process, and with it the two-states solution. It has brought to the surface an ongoing struggle — between Palestinian youth and the wider population against the political leadership and elites — in defining the content of popular protest and the future of Palestinian political struggle.
Palestinians took to the streets as early as February 2011 to support the Egyptian revolution. What soon became known as the March 15 movement, including youth groups, independent politicians and NGOs, went out in Ramallah, Gaza and Nablus demanding an end to the political division between Fatah and Hamas that since 2007 has kept them in respective control of the West Bank and Gaza. Both parties responded, signing three reconciliation agreements since May 2011, confirming the legitimacy of Hamas as part of the Palestinian political system. Yet these agreements have failed to produce any semblance of national unity and their officials have further alienated the population.
After May 2011 Palestinians continued to demonstrate, building on the work of civil society groups including the Stop the Wall Campaign, PNGO (the Palestinian NGO network), the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Movement (BDS), and the popular committees in West Bank villages that support women, trade unions and political prisoners. They demonstrated outside Al-Muqata, the seat of the PA in Ramallah, marching towards Kalandia, a checkpoint village which blocks the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem; they campaigned through social media, and struck against increases in food prices.
Three key issues
The Palestinian protestors’ demands have coalesced around three key issues. First, they have called for the protection of Palestinian national rights, which they believe are not simply a right to a state, but the right of return for Palestinian refugees and equal political rights. During the May 2011 anniversary of the Nakba (the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948), Palestinian youth joined organised groups and popular committees to demonstrate at major checkpoints and at the separation wall to reaffirm the Palestinian right of return.
They coordinated with Palestinians inside Israel, who held remembrance days in Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. They also joined forces with youth groups in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon seeking to enter Israel through the borders of those countries, to affirm the centrality of the right of return in popular activism.
The second demand is for resumption of the Palestinian democratic process. The demand is not confined to new elections for the PA and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the West Bank and Gaza.
Al-Herak al-Shababi al-Mustakil, Palestinians for Dignity and other youth groups have called for new elections for the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the legislative body of the PLO that represents all the Palestinians inside and outside the occupied territories, including refugees, the diaspora and Palestinian citizens of Israel. The PNC, which has not convened since 1988, has been marginalised politically by the Oslo peace process: Palestinian activists in the West Bank and Gaza wants it to be reinvigorated. Towards this, the young are creating coalitions with groups in the diaspora who have previously asked for its revival (1). Together they are attempting to reunify the politics fragmented by Oslo, trying to reactivate the democratic process from the bottom up and give voice to constituencies Oslo silenced.
The third demand focuses on the Oslo impasse: the demonstrators want to stop a “peace process” that exists only in name, and end political cooperation with Israel. Early this year, Palestinian youth demonstrated against the resumption of indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Amman, and protested against joint Israeli-Palestinian peace activists meeting in Jerusalem and Ramallah, demanding no more contact with Israelis until Israel ends the occupation. Since the summer, Palestinians have gone on strike and demonstrated against the PA’s austerity measures. Many want it dismantled.
So Palestinian activists are now trying to reframe the nature of the Palestinian struggle as being for rights, not statehood per se. Following the lead of the BDS campaigns launched by 170 civil society organisations in 2005, activists are now reiterating that the Palestinian struggle consists of fighting what they define as an Israeli apartheid regime, and aiming to defend three fundamental rights; the end to occupation, the right of return and the right to equality inside Israel.
Going to the UN
The PA’s decision to seek UN membership for the Palestinian state can be read as an attempt to bypass the stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and to deal with overwhelming popular opposition to the Oslo accords and the rule of Hamas and Fatah. Comparing Abbas’s speech this year to the UN General Assembly with last year’s speech reveals sharply the extent to which the PA has been trying to accommodate the demonstrators’ language, while attempting to monopolise the Palestinian political agenda.
Both speeches try to link the “Palestinian Spring” with the quest for statehood and independence, and to engage the international community by asking it to fulfil its responsibility towards the Palestinian people. The main difference is that in 2011, the PA submitted a request for full UN state membership, but did not get the nine votes necessary to submit it to the Security Council for consideration, mostly because of US opposition. This year, Abbas requested full non-member state status, similar to that of the Vatican. If granted, the upgrade would allow Palestine to become a member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), International Criminal Court and other UN agencies, enabling the PLO to pursue Israel for war crimes and other violations; this is similar to the legal strategy used at the ICJ in 2005 to object to Israel building the separation wall inside the West Bank rather than along the 1967 Green Line. But the upgrade would not resolve how the occupation is to end or the right of return be protected.
For the PA, this UN move is the only way to assert the Palestinians’ right to an independent state on 22% of historic Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital (all declared as occupied under UN Security Council resolution 242). Abbas said the return of these lands would provide relative reparation for the expulsion of 1948; it is the price to reach peace with Israel and implement the international consensus on the partition of Palestine, established since 1947 by UN resolution 181. Abbas argued that only a state recognised by the international community can protect Palestinian rights.
To answer dissent about his prerogative to speak in the name of all Palestinians, Abbas points out that the Palestinian state project has been endorsed by the PNC since the declaration of independence in 1988. He recalls that it is the PLO, not the PA, that is presenting the UN bid (2). In both speeches he reiterated the unity of the Palestinian people, mentioning refugees, those under occupation and Palestinians citizens of Israel, as well as the diaspora.
What is new in the UN bid is the attempt to re-internationalise the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By going to the UN, Abbas hopes to shake, if not end, US monopoly of the peace process. This strategy became clear when he said on 23 September 2011: “The question of Palestine is intricately linked with the UN via the resolutions adopted by its various organs and agencies … We aspire for and seek a greater and more effective role for the United Nations in working to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in our region.”
A year later the tone has hardened. In the latest UN speech in 2012, Abbas draws more directly on the language used by Palestinian protestors. He describes Israel not simply as “settler colonial” as in 2011, but also as implementing “apartheid” policies and “ethnic cleansing” in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories, terms Abbas avoided using until then. In 2011 he was still trying to extend his “hand to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peace making … based on parity and equity between two neighbouring states — Palestine and Israel.” In 2012 he squarely puts the blame on the Netanyahu government, which “rejects the two-states solution” and is “emptying the Oslo accords of their meaning.”
Outrage over Oslo
In this way Abbas showed that he is responding to popular outrage over Oslo and the futility of negotiating with Israel while the occupation continues. The stronger tone of 2012 also reflects his frustration at Israel’s intransigence.
He told the UN the final map and borders that Israel is offering the Palestinians is one of “enclaves … subject to full dominance of military colonial occupation, only packaged under new names.”
This year’s speech also shows his anger at the international community, and indirectly the US, unlike last year, when he was optimistic that the international community would help reignite the peace process. This year he laments that it allows Israel “to be permitted to evade accountability and punishment”, and provides Israel with a “licence for the occupation to continue its policy of dispossession and… entrench its system of apartheid against the Palestinian people.”
Moreover, Abbas mentions for the first time that the only way to reach peace “must first and foremost be predicated on the understanding that racial settler colonisation must be condemned, punished and boycotted in order for it to be completely halted.” He seems to have heard the Palestinian civil society call for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction). The question remains what political leverage the PA can get from its UN bid, and what legal strategy it will pursue to engage the UN in international sanctions against Israel.
Meanwhile Palestinians back home seem to have given up on their leadership. The municipal elections of 20 October in the West Bank confirmed the dwindling legitimacy of Fatah, as independent candidates won in major cities — Nablus, Ramallah and Jenin. Popular participation in these elections showed yet again the Palestinians’ determination to defend their rights to freedom and dignity, irrespective of whether or not they get their state soon. Israel’s war on Gaza has further validated their stand.
Published in Sagar Sandesh Nov-28 edition
If you think the shipping sector and its allied services like clearing and forwarding, brokering and chartering vessels are purely in male bastion, change your vision, because women are also taking centre stage of late.
The question ‘Why not I?’ a few years ago had landed Mrs. G. Sripriya into a new world, where she heads an all-woman team to cater to the industry’s logistics needs.
More than 30 women are working in her dream company – Transy India, which looks after project forwarding, ship brokering, NVOCC and port agent works for different clients in the country.
Sagar Sandesh caught up with the budding woman entrepreneur in the shipping and logistics arena at her posh office in Chennai and she was very candid in telling us how the idea came and materialized into a reality.
Excerpts of the interview:
SS:Give us the background and profile of the company?
Mrs. G. Sripriya : Transy India, part of the TRANSY/AGS shipping group, is a global transport group with offices in Antwerp, Archangelsk, Astana, Baku, Chelyabinsk, Conakry, Dusseldorf, Ekaterinburg, Frankfurt, Houston, Kiev, London, Moscow, Mumbai, Novorossiysk, Novosibirsk, Odessa, Rotterdam, Shanghai, St.Petersburg and Vladivostok.
TRANSY has now opened a regional head office in Chennai dedicated to the Indian market and offering local clients a direct gateway to Europe, Russia and Africa.
Q : How come the idea of only women, that too in a male-dominated shipping and logistics field, popped up?
A : I rise with business background as my father owned a transport company. I observed his style of work from my childhood, which motivated me to be a successful woman entrepreneur. Our all woman
team is supporting us to be a major successful player in the logistics domain in the country. When it comes to competition, we do not bother about domination or anything else, but our 100% focus will be on the quality of service.
Q : How is the industry response for this venture?
A : Yes, We did have initial troubles and difficulties, but we overcame them with a lot of confidence and captured the firm market space only because of our quality of service.
Q : How do you manage the state of affairs with the all women staff?
A : Though it’s a business opportunity in this competitive world, I see it (employing all women) as my social obligation because I believe helping a woman to come up in life is like supporting the whole future generation or society.
Q : Tell us about your future plans?
A : We have already made our presence felt in many countries and our next plan is to expand our services all over India.
Q : Any remarkable memory that drives your passion for such a unique venture?
A : Yes, I have always a question in my mind ” why not I” which has driven me to “what I am now”. One fine day, I had a spark why not I in this male-dominated business which turns a lot of passion towards this venture. I understood it requires a lot of focus and concentration which help me to be a one of the successful players in this domain.
Published in Sagar Sandesh Maritime Weekly on Nov 7, 2012
Dr. R. Lakshmipathy, President of R. L. Institute of Nautical Sciences (RLINS), Madurai, Tamil Nadu, presenting a memento to Capt. P. V. K Mohan, Chairman of National Shipping Board, during a one day workshop on NCV Manpower Development in Mumbai on Nov. 1. Also seen (from left) Mr. J. N. Dhas, Director, Shipping Corporation of India, Mr. G. S. Bhalla, Chairman, ICC Shipping Association and Mr. Amitava Banerjee, Chief Surveyor, Government of India;Mumbai
Congratulating the management of RL Institute of Nautical Sciences (RLINS), Madurai, for taking bold initiatives to ensure better future for its cadets, Capt. P.V.K Mohan, Chairman of National Shipping Board, has openly declared that the Union Shipping Ministry and DG Shipping will extend their helping hand to accomplish the Institute’s endeavours.
Addressing an elite gathering of maritime fraternity during a one day NCV Manpower Development Workshop, jointly organized by ICC Shipping Association, Mumbai, and RLINS, Tamil Nadu, in Mumbai on Nov. 1, Capt Mohan said: “I came to know that Dr. Lakshmipathy, President of RLINS, has been looking at some alternative methods of employing the people (cadets) who are unable to get sea time. I believe that it is in the final stages of tying up with reputed organization like BITS (Pilani) to see some degree can be given to cadets, so that they can take up shore jobs for initial survival. And they can get back to sea job once the situation improves. This is a good initiative from RLINS and I hope it would fructify into something good. If RL Institute can work out something like this, then I am sure that the administration, DG Shipping and from the (Shipping) Ministry, we will give you helping hands to achieve such a thing.”
Outlining the latest concern in DG Shipping, on-board training slot for cadets, he pointed out: “We are looking at several initiatives like what is to be done. We are also talking to INSA, MANSA, FOSMA and several other institutions to see how best we can increase the on-board training slots.”
Capt. Mohan further stated: “We will come forward and even give Government assistance if there is a system of matching grants we could look at that. We could even look at the stand alone funding if required, if somebody can come up with suitable model.”
Earlier, elaborating on the objectives of the workshop, Dr. R. Lakshmipathy vehemently stressed: “We have assembled here to find out a solution to manpower demand for National Coastal Voyage (NCV) vessels and also simultaneously create opportunity to Nautical Science and Technology cadets to complete their sea time requirement, which will help them acquire the required level of competency and fulfill their mandatory sea time training.”
Appealing to the officials concerned to initiate corrective measures immediately, bearing in mind the grave mismatch between the demand and supply of cadets, the President noted in right earnestness: “My prayer now to the DG Shipping, the Shipping Ministry and Indian Maritime University (IMU) is that let them sit together and find out a permanent solution to the burgeoning problem.”
Suggesting a few important steps to get back the maritime education on stream, Dr. Lakhsmipathy observed: “Keep the DNS course under suspended animation like the Ratings were done earlier, cut down the number of seats of intake in Nautical Science and Technology courses till the situation improves and find out options to appoint more cadets in ships.”
Spelling out the lurking danger as fall out of less jobs in the market, he concluded: “Unemployment among the deck cadets is a very serious issue and unless and until something is done for it, it will seriously affect the growth of the country. So, I appeal to the concerned departments to take concrete steps at once.”
Published in Sagar Sandesh Maritime Weekly recently
With a number of small and big shipyards / dry docks dotting along its coastline and cruise tourism fetching a good amount of revenue for the tiny State in West Coast of late, Goa has undoubtedly earned a tag of ‘ace maritime state’ in India.
Besides playing a major role in the economic development of the country through export of iron ore and coal, Goa has nurtured a niche identity of being a tourists’ paradise among both domestic and international tourists.
Mr. Manguirish N Pai Raiker, Presient, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry
“Goa has 105 km long coastline. We are equally blessed with good internal inland waterways – two major rivers, which are the source for the inland waterways. There are enough opportunities for ship building activities, for inland transportation, and you all know the maximum cargo carried by inland waterways (in India) is carried out in Goa. We need to improve upon it and plan for its growth. As a tourism promoting State, we could promote cruise liners, smaller tourist vessels. We all know that at one stage, people used to relish coming to Goa from Mumbai in steamers. And I think there is a need for restarting the service, which will give opportunities to new entrepreneurs to enter the field and also simultaneously we could have internal cargoes being carried from one State to another, which would reduce dependency on roads. At the same time, it would give an all time opportunity for growth in shipping business in the State.”
Mr. V. M. Gaitonde, Director, Dempo Group:
“When we talk about investment opportunities in Goa, three to four important areas come to my mind automatically. The first area, which I feel more important, is the maritime training and education. Goa, which has natural ambience, has a very good continual kind of environment here for education and training centre .Goa, being a maritime state, shipping is in the bloodstream of all here and that’s why we find many people from Goa working in the sector across the globe.
They have the natural aptitude for sea-borne jobs. Though we have got two good institutes in Goa for inculcating maritime education, there is no training institute in Goa for training navigating officers. So there is one scope for that.”
“Second, taking note of the Shipping Ministry’s proposal to make Mormugao Port a multi-cargo handling port, transshipping operation is already taking place in the Port of Goa in the form of bulk cargo, especially iron ore. Now that container cargo is going to be the order of the day in the next five to 10 years, MPT has a problem with land availability and midstream transshipment of container (on the style of Hong Kong Port), providing a good opportunity for Goa in particular and others in general. Third important area, I feel, is the tourism, which has been the main stay of Goa’s economy for the past several years. If somebody can think on setting up Marina coupled with well-organised water sports activities, it will definitely attract more tourism to Goa. Lastly, I cannot conclude without mentioning about the ship building industry. The ship building industry is developed in the backdrop of the development of mining industry in Goa, because mechanized vessels were required. Many a shipyard and dry dock are available in Goa which can be utilized by coastal ship owners as there is a good scope for ship repair activity here.”
Mr. Atul Jadhav, President, Goa Barge Owners Association:
“We are having about 360 barges in Goa. Of them, 60 belonged to mine owners and to the exporters of iron ore. There are around 300 barges which are basically used to transport cargo for any exporter. Our barges are suitable for that job, with slightest modifications. They are easily convertible to carry containers. Earlier, the vessels which were designed in Goa were not suitable for carrying containers, because the volume and density of iron ore were very high. Hence, the cargo volumes were very less. During the past seven years, the vessels (about 200 in numbers) which are built here are meticulously planned to carry bigger volumes. Structural changes have also been made on them to suit varied cargoes. So, many of our vessels, which are now used to transport iron ore, can be converted into riversea class vessels eventually leading to carry containers in future.”
Our vessels are also suitable for carrying cargo both in day and night operations. We are in discussion with various shipping offices. They have shown keen interest in developing our vessels into river-sea vessels for moving cargo. The investments needed to convert them are also not much. When we put up the matter with the DG Shipping, they are quite ready to consider the proposal. These vessels can also be utilized in Gujarat, Gulf of Kutch of Gulf of Cambay, where there are short sea voyages and it will reduce the cost of transportation considerably. Goa, being a net importer of various goods, if anybody is interested in setting up jetties here, Goan rivers would be suitable which we could carry cement and steel, and it will considerably reduce load on road transport.
Captain of Ports is a dedicated department set up by the Government of Goa to look after the maritime-related developments in the West Coast of the State.
The State of Goa has about 555 km of Inland Waterways out of which only 255 km are navigable through the Rivers Mandovi, Zuari and their tributaries. Out of their total length the better part is being used by the Mining and Export Industry for transportation of iron ore to the Port of Mormugao and Panaji outer anchorage, from the loading points in the hinterlands. If these waterways are properly harnessed, they will provide quick and economical transportation facilities for both passengers and cargo traffic.
With this point in view, the Captain of Ports Department shoulders the responsibility of developmental works of these Inland Waterways and Minor Ports of Goa, by way of periodical hydrographic surveys, dredging of rivers, maintenance of lighthouses and beacons, providing necessary navigational aids, imparting training to those desiring to build careers on Inland Vessels, providing landing facilities for both passenger boats and cargo vessels at jetties etc.
As such, for smooth functioning of all the activities in the Inland Waterways Transport Services, this department implements the Indian Ports Act, Inland Vessels Act, Goa Daman and Diu Barge/Goods Taxation Acts etc. Registration of mechanised and non-mechanised vessels such as Inland Cargo, Inland Fishing, Inland Passengers and Tourist Vessels is being undertaken by this department as Registering Authority at Panaji and Mormugao.
The River Navigation Department, Betim, in the State is mainly engaged in the operation of ferry services in the inland waters of Goa for passengers and vehicular traffic in the islands and across the rivers not connected by roads and bridges. This department is headed by the Captain of Ports and is assisted by different administrative staff. The department is having a full-fledged marine workshop at Betim with the required infrastructure which attends to minor and major repairs of the vessels of the department. The main function of the department, being a public utility service, is to provide ferry crossing across the islands and alongside the rivers. At present the services are run on 19 routes within the State of Goa with a fleet of 38 vessels comprising 37 ferry boats and 1 launch. The department is providing free ferry services to foot passengers all ferry crossings and a minimum toll fare being levied on light and heavy vehicular traffic.
The State of Goa has a huge potential to stay numero uno cruise destination in the country. According to statistics available, about 330 cruise vessels have called in Goa ports since 1997 carrying about 90,000 tourists.
It may be recalled here that the Chairmen of the five ports – Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Mangalore and Mormugao – identified for the promotion of cruise tourism by the Union Tourism Ministry, met in Goa from July 2-4 to discuss how to attract cruise ships from across the world and to promote cruise tourism at the respective ports after creating a dedicated cruise terminal for big ships.
They had dialogue on how they can coordinate and attract more and more ships to their respective ports. Tour operators involved in cruise tourism, representatives of the State Tourism Departments,Customs officers, Immigration officers and Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) took part in the deliberations.
Speaking about Goa’s cruise terminal, MPT Chairman Mara Pandiyan said the world’s biggest cruise vessels will be able to visit the State from the next tourism season as the work of a new, dedicated cruise terminal for big vessels has been completed.
He further added that MPT is planning to construct a dedicated passenger terminal near the cruise terminal to avoid any inconvenience to tourists arriving in such vessels. A proposal has been sent to the Central Government for funds and its approval is awaited. This facility has a length of 310m and a draft of 9.5m. Now, the world’s biggest cruise ships, with over 4,000 passengers including crew members, can berth at this terminal without any problem, he felt.
The State Government is expecting over one lakh tourists to arrive in Goa via cruise ships once the dedicated cruise terminal becomes operational.
CAPTION: Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan (Centre) during the release of knowledge paper on maritime sector at the inauguration of India Maritime -2012, held at Panaji, Goa. Also seen (from left) are: FICCI Advisor Rajan Kohli, Mormugao Port Trust Deputy Chairman Biplav Kumar; Union Shipping Secretary P. K. Sinha; Ernst & Young’s Soumitra Pandey; Essar Port CEO Rajiv Agarwal and Goa Chamber President Manguirish N Pai Raiker.
Strongly advocating for a level playing field for all-round growth in the shipping sector, Union Shipping Secretary P. K. Sinha has announced that the Shipping Ministry is in the advanced stages of introducing flexible tariff determination system for all ports.
Delivering the key-note address during the inaugural session of India Maritime – 2012, jointly organized by the Shipping Ministry and FICCI at Panaji, Goa, Mr. Sinha said: “The Government has to create a friendly regulatory environment particularly relating to tariff determination in the port sector.”
He further stated: “We have already started moving in that direction, we are in the advanced stage of formulating a new very simplified TAMP guideline. We have started consultation with the Planning Commission and we have sought comments of all the stakeholders including the ports and IPPTA. Based on your comments we would simplify it in the first phase and in the second phase, we will try get rid of tariff determination by any authority, so that the port or the operators themselves fix tariff determined on market conditions.”
Elaborating about the key challenges in port development, Mr. Sinha stated: “There are two main challenges like port connectivity gap and dredging, which are affecting the growth of ports.” “As far as the port connectivity gap is concerned, there are several gaps still exist in terms of port connectivity, road connectivity or rail connectivity. We are working on that and have set up a committee, which is identifying precisely the gap that remains in both major and non-major ports so that we can take them up with NHAI or Railways and put them on the fast track of development,” he added.
Speaking on the second major challenge, Mr. Sinha observed: “Dredging is the one area which continues to remain weak in the country. Need for dredging is tremendous as the draft in our ports has still to be increased on par with international level. In the case of maintenance of dredging, a lot has to be done every year. Therefore, we collectively need to do something about increasing the capacity.”
Speaking in black and white about the sector, which is headed by none other than him, Mr. Sinha voiced concern: “Shipping sector has not really kept pace with the growth of the economy. Today only about 8 to 9% of the total EXIM cargo of the country is carried by Indian tonnage (Indian vessels).This is not a happy situation at all. If you look at any other developed country, you will find that by and large, the country’s cargo is carried by their own vessels.”
Mr. Sinha deplored: “If you see our share in Indian tonnage in global terms, it is only one per cent. So, the shipping industry has clearly lagged behind. When we tried to understand what are the reasons, why they are not happening and what are the challenges we are facing, the first thing that comes to mind is that we need to create a level playing field.”
CAPTION:Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan and Union Shipping Secretary P. K. Sinha jointly cutting the ribbon to mark the inauguration of the India Maritime-2012 exhibition at Panaji, Goa, on Oct. 17, as Chairmen of Goa, JNPT and Chennai ports look on.
-Vasan injects a new lease of life
-Goa Port is passing through difficult times for some time, as arrival of its main cargo items – coal and iron ore – had been stopped abruptly
-In future the port will handle container also.
In an attempt to keep the stakeholders of shipping and export-import fraternity in Goa happy, who were facing uncertain future due to sudden stoppage of coal and iron ore handling at Goa Port, Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan has announced that his Ministry is taking efforts to convert the port into a multi-cargo handling port.
Making the much-anticipated announcement during the inauguration of the India Maritime-2012, organized at Panaji, Goa, Mr. Vasan said: “Shipping Ministry is making sincere efforts to utilize Goa Port facility as multi-product handling port.”
It may be noted here that the Goa Port is passing through difficult times for some time, as arrival of its main cargo items – coal and iron ore – had been stopped abruptly due to various reasons. Because of the sudden stoppage, EXIM fraternity in Goa is in jitters over financial commitments and counting the losses day by day.
The Minister stated: “We are aware of the difficulties faced by the Goa Port. It has to depend on a few cargoes like iron ore and coal. We are making efforts to diversify the cargo needs of the port to achieve some success in utlising the port for wheat export by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and also export and import of medicine”
In future the port will handle container also, he added.
Facing uncertain future due to the sudden stoppage of both the cargo, EXIM fraternity and the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) had represented the issue to various agencies, including the Shipping Ministry, for early solution to tide over the crisis.
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, Mr Manguirish N Pai Raiker, President of Goa Chamber, said: “Mining is one of the main industries in Goa and majority of the people here are linked to the mining operations one way or the other. Sudden stoppage of coal and iron ore had made our lives uncertain.”
“Until the crisis ends, we appeal to the Government and the concerned departments to take action to ease financial burdens faced by the industry,” Mr. Raiker pleaded.
An official Japanese document from 1902 recognizes Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo, three years before Japan’s Shimane Prefecture forcefully incorporated the islets.
The document, which was submitted to the Japanese government by the Japanese Consulate in Busan in May 1902, refers to Dokdo as “Liancourt Rocks” and Ulleung Island as the “main island” of Dokdo. It was found in the diplomatic archives of the Japanese Foreign Ministry by Park Byung-sup, a Korean-Japanese expert in history.
Yuji Hosaka, a Dokdo expert at Sejong University and a naturalized Korean citizen, received the document from Park and showed it to the Chosun Ilbo on Sunday.
A section entitled “Fisheries Status” in the document states that there are “three small islands around 5 nautical miles directly east of” Ulleung. It says they are the so-called Liancourt Rocks, but “mainlanders (Japanese) refer to them as Pine Island.”
It adds that Japanese fishermen venture to Dokdo to catch abalone but cannot stay long due to a lack of potable water there.
Japan has so far claimed that Shimane Prefecture incorporated Dokdo, which was no man’s land, in 1905. But Shin Yong-ha at University of Ulsan said, “In 1900, the Korean Empire officially proclaimed Ulleng Island, the main island, and Jukdo and Seokdo (Dokdo), small islets near it, as part of Korean territory.” Shin added the 1902 Japanese document also refers to Ulleung Island as main island and Dokdo as attached to it, demonstrating that Japan indirectly recognized them as part of Korea.