Saturday, June 04, 2016

Is the national shipping administration in India making policies unduly favouring the ship-manning corporates ?

The shipping administration in India houses itself in a rented glitzy complex in a suburb location of Mumbai, which is quite unnatural for a public service department to spend its funds on, supposedly earned by way of fee collection for expenses incurred during discharge of certain public welfare duties.
    But then ours is an age of Dysotpia where money, which was conventionally thought as the root of all evil, walks higher than all the voices of reason.
   Therefore, we the people have now started accepting it to be perfectly normal when our shipping administration during discharge its public duty  demands from the candidates an irrationally high fee for appearing in the licensing competency  examination , which is markedly disproportionate to the actual cost incurred in organising those examination. It makes one to question himself with disbelief as to what is it that makes the examination expenses per candidate so exorbitant ?-- the A4 size ordinary printed question papers; or the answer sheet with all its security features; the chairs, tables, electricity bill ; how exactly is the cost being apportioned ? 
   Obviously then, we witness with a numbness of our conscience the extravagant spending of money which is earned also through as much irrationality. Maybe, next time we should see the shipping administration renting in a presidential palace, or the Taj Mahal.
     This is the first glimpse of a department where arbitrary personal reactions guide the policy making more than the principles of public welfare.
     Fear is that the realisation of a numbing conscience inferred from this first glimpse might have caught our brains a little too late. The profit-oriented line of thought which is being practised inside the house seems to have already reached into the international organization where each country is represented through its national shipping administration. Therefore, we, now have certain international agreements in place which are way too much unexplained on why only a specific class of professional, the seafarers, should be compelled through public laws to return to blackboards to re-learn those basic lessons, which are already mandated to be practised provenly at very frequent time intervals throughout their career . Many people are realizing, albeit too late, that the cost benefits acquired through such unexplained public legislations are reaching into the hands of ship manning corporates in India who have started mushrooming their own training centres. Needless to say that the certification of these centres is carried out by the shipping administration itself. Thus, arguably a private profit motive is being served through a seemingly public safety policy.
      In the land of Dystopia, even the public service agencies worked on those principles which are profits-motived much like private businesses. Therefore it is so casual now that the costs on public services are derived basis the market demands and supply, instead of striving to keep it minimal in view of heavy taxation that every citizen has to suffer.
      In the course of its duties, the administration is very regularly being noticed for pronouncing the decisions and the policies which are incongruent with its own views as applied elsewhere. Thus, at one place we see them showing extreme urgency in asking every seafaring personnel to undergo re-learning at a stipulated time interval on a reasoning that technology changes is driving such a law, yet at another occasion the administration advises that the harbour administrations in India need not put their seagoing field-staff to acquire such training , this on the reasons of cost related worries assumed by itself.
    Where Aam Aadmi's pockets are burnt , the administration takes no worries, but where corporates have to bear the cost, the "Gold Standards" for identifying the necessity of a training change !!!

         Arguments have a nature to fly randomly. Every legal maxim comes in pairs, and therefore it has its limitations of application and remission. It becomes critical, then, that the arguments are aligned uniformly in same direction to avoid mutual contradiction, and a principled line-of-thought should guide the policy making process.  Or else, the mutually inconsistent, self-contradictory decisions will become a commonplace. Unfortunately, in shipping administration the persons in authority are neither able to feel the self-contradictions, nor are reasoned enough to home onto its root cause. Instantaneous reactive behaviour guides their decisions.

       The seafaring industry in India is mainly composed of ship manning agents who work for some foreign ship owners. The agents work through Ship manning Companies who are involved in giving employment to the large seafaring professionals which India produces. The seafaring related troubles come within the purview of Labour laws, where labour  exploitation is an umbrella descriptive for most of the civil issues. The unlawful intentions of these agents, which they so regularly require in order to fulfil operational demands of their foreign principles, could be best served if the policies are such as to help them escape labour exploitation liabilities. Whereas the international legislation are gearing up the seafarers with more rights to protect themselves against exploitation, to our great misfortune our national shipping administration has created certain rules wherein the justice delivery system has been punctured, perhaps to let the ship-manning corporates escape the liabilities of labour exploitation of its young, legally and judicially unawakended seafaring people. The national shipping administration has drawn a big puncture in the justice-delivery by making mandatory for seafarers to produce certain documents for appearing in their licensing examination obtained from their ship-manning employers, the granting or refusal of which is negligibly regulated. As a consequence, come what strength of maritime labour legislation to guard against exploitation, the ship-manning companies now enjoy a punctured justice delivery system wherein they can escape the liabilities with minimal efforts ; they have seemingly well-meaning mechanism to orient the seafarers into cultural subservience and exploitation without having to face the music of authorities.

     One is forced to contemplate as to what brain standards, what intellect is running our national shipping administration. Not knowing the laws is although wrong, but it may still find acceptance from certain quarters on the reasoning that the bulkiness of the legislative acts maybe too much for human capacity. Yet, people at higher decision-making ranks must necessarily be sound in their judicial knowledge. What we are suffering at the hands of shipping authorities is a case of lacking judicious decision making. Judicious decision-making skills require a vast scope of knowledge base, practically from all fields of learning , say the human resource management, the finances , the history , the geography, the political science theories which undermine various legislation, and so. Perhaps, in the first place persons in our shipping administration are  themselves in need to learn certain subjects and to obtain training on judicious decision-making before they be given authority to write learning and training needs for the vast seafaring community of India.