National Maritime Day 2021 celebrated online

Indian Shipping industry is a vibrant force in the global standing, say experts

Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways celebrated the 58th National Maritime Day in commemoration of the maiden voyage of the first Indian flag merchant vessel ‘S.S.LOYALTY’ (Owned by M/s. Scindia Steam Navigation Company), from Mumbai to London, on 5th April ,1919.

The day, April 5, is celebrated every year as National Maritime Day. Marine transport, the most well-organized, safe and sound environmentally responsive way of transporting goods from one corner to another corner in this world, supports the global economy.

The theme of National Maritime Day, this year was ‘Sustainable Shipping beyond COVID-19’ on the lines of ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ initiative of the Government of India.

This year, due to COVID-19, The Maritime Day was celebrated in online mode in the presence of Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of State (I/C) for Ports, Shipping & Waterways. On this occasion, Mr. Mandaviya congratulated the maritime community and appreciated their hard work, zeal and courage and role played in the times of the COVID pandemic. He highlighted that India is changing and New India is being built which will lead the world again, through its maritime sector. He congratulated the maritime community and remarked appreciatively on their hard work, bravery, enthusiasm and the important role played by them in the times of pandemic.

Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya

Mr. Mandaviya said that Maritime India Vision-2030, recently launched by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is the comprehensive vision of the next decade for the maritime sector of India. He added that with a focused approach, the Indian maritime sector will be strong, technologically advanced and Aatma Nirabhar soon.

Mr. Mandaviya concluded with a positive note and said, “India is changing, India is racing ahead. New India is being built and, like we were the Maritime leader in the past, India will lead the world again through the maritime sector.”

Mr. Mandaviya launched the e-magazine as a souvenir for the 58th National Maritime Day and presented awards instituted by National Maritime Day Celebration Committee, headed by Director General of Shipping.

Dr Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said that the Maritime community has played an important role in the COVID times and added that Ministry was working

Dr Sanjeev Ranjan

tirelessly towards bringing progressive policy changes to give India a leadership place in the global maritime community.

Several senior officials of the Ministry, DG Shipping, officials of the Shipping Corporation of India, Port officials and representative of the Maritime community were present via video conferencing.


The National Maritime Day (NMD) is celebrated, every year, in an effort to create awareness in supporting safe and environmentally sound intercontinental commerce and the global economy. It helps in highlighting that the industry is the most well-organized, safe and sound, environmentally responsive approach of transporting goods from one corner to another corner of the world.

This day focuses on defending and preserving the maritime zone of the country.

On National Maritime Day, an award ceremony is organised to recognize the efforts made by people for the Indian Maritime Sector. The Varuna Award that consists of a statue of Lord Varuna and a scroll is awarded to selected seafarers for their long and exceptional contribution and distinguished achievements at the senior functional level in the maritime sector. The award consists of a trophy and a citation.

In order to acknowledge the efforts of distinguished individuals in the sector of maritime education and training, the Outstanding Contribution to Maritime Education and Training award is also given to them.

This year, the Varuna award ceremony was conducted in Mumbai and persons who fulfilled the criteria received a statue of Lord Varuna.

This year Mr Arun Sharma, Executive Chairman, Indian Register of Shipping, won the National Maritime VARUNA Award. Other award winners were Mr. Raghuvir Chand Bhavnani , Adviser to The Viswa Group of Companies, won the National Maritime Award for Excellence. Capt. Ritesh Bhamaria won the National Maritime Award for Gallantry.

The National Maritime Award for Best Marine Training Institute was given to The Great Eastern Institute of Maritime Studies, which engages the students in innovative and path-breaking ways, to ignite and enhance their latent competence, as well as to provide them up-graded gainfully employable skill-sets.

National Maritime Award for Best Foreign Employer of Indian Seafarers was won by Anglo Eastern Ship Management Pvt. Ltd which has performed it’s best in various aspects like Average No. of slots on board ships for Indian Seafarers, Retention rate of seafarers, responses in maritime contingencies, handling of grievances, seafarers continuous professional development, employment of Indian women seafarers. etc.


It may be mentioned that Indian shipping has come a long way since Independence and accounts for about 9 per cent of the global seafarer professionals. About fifty percent of the global oil passes through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Capt (retd) DK Sharma, former spokesperson of the Indian Navy, has stated, “Coastal Communities and Merchant Guilds across time and regions of the sub-continent have defied proscriptions to cross the seas and earn rich treasure to Venture Capital enterprises, funded interestingly by temple treasuries. The Sovereign was just an enabler. Shipbuilding itself has been a superior skill set of the otherwise subaltern coastal communities along the Indian Coast.”

According to him, India is today the ‘preferred security partner’ and the ‘first-responder’ in any maritime crisis in the country’s area of responsibility. He states that collaborative competence building is a win-win approach for Indian maritime growth with a visible partnership across the oceans. He discloses that the naval growth including warship construction has been the fore-runner of today’s “Aatma-Nirbharta”. He adds, Port infrastructure development through ‘Sagarmala’ and ‘Unnati’ was set to transform the nation through `Blue-Economy’ sector.

Mr. Milind Kulshreshtha, Strategic Analyst and C4I expert, has gone on record stating, “The cargo traffic at Indian ports is expected to be approximately 2500 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonne per Annum), whereas the current cargo handling capacity of Indian ports is only 1500 MMTPA. The roadmap is charted to enhance the Indian port capacity to more than 3300 MMTPA by 2025 to meet the growing demands. About 506 projects in various States and Union Territories have been identified and are being monitored by the Minister of State in consultation with State Maritime Boards and State Governments. Another Project Unnati to improve the Operational Efficiency has been also launched to improve the efficiency and productivity for 12 major ports. Project Unnati has about 116 schemes at all the twelve major ports,”


COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted the world economy including the maritime sector globally. With huge focus on the maritime and shipping Industry by the present government, how Indian maritime, shipping and trading sector will cope through and post the Pandemic has been pertinently relevant and needs deeper evaluation including its growth in the immediate future.

Gautam Bhatikar, Partner, Phoenix Legal believes that India’s shipping and maritime industry is on a growth trajectory. He is of the opinion that post Covid-19 slack is not for long and the boost impetus provided by the Government in the form of subsidies and capital investment for this sector shall bear fruits in the years to come. He opines that future is bright because of the flexible nature and the focused efforts that are being taken for the upliftment of the maritime industry. “Development of inland waterways will be another impressive milestone to enhance trade and simultaneously reduce logistics cost, thus providing a competitive pricing advantage at the global marketplace.”

India is on a growth trajectory when it comes to the shipping and maritime industry. “Optimistically speaking,” Mr. Bhatikar says, “the post Covid-19 slack is not for long and the boost impetus provided by the Government in the form of subsidies and capital investment for this sector shall bear fruits in the years to come. Most of our major ports are notably termed as the busiest in the world. The future is bright because of the flexible nature and the focused efforts that are taken for the upliftment of the maritime industry.”


On the occasion of the National Maritime Day, one tries to remember the history of the maritime industry.

According to reports, India’s maritime history began millennia ago. In the 3rd millennium BC, the people of the Indus Valley had started their maritime trade with Mesopotamia. And when Egypt was annexed by the Roman Empire, the trade started with the Romans too.

During the Maurya period (3rd century BC), there was a definite ‘naval department’ to supervise the ships and trade. The Indian products reached the Romans during the rule of Augustus.

The Roman historian Strabo mentions an increase in Roman trade with India following the Roman annexation of Egypt.

The legacy of Indian shipping first started on April 5th, 1919, when the first ship The SS Loyalty manufactured by The Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. sailed from Mumbai to the United Kingdom.

During the early 17th century, the British East India Company, shipped substantial quantities of Indian spices, incense and textiles. And for the purpose of navigation, the maps, charts were based on the Pole star and Constellation.

To provide protection to the trading ships, the Indian rulers had also started organizing the navy.  These navy boats accompanied the trade vessels on their journeys. However, according to history, the urgent need for maintenance of navy was felt in the late Middle Ages, when European vessels started entering India from Portugal and the Netherlands.

In 1830 ships of the British East India Company were designated as the Indian navy. However, in 1863, it was disbanded, when Britain’s Royal Navy took control of the Indian Ocean. About thirty years later, the few small Indian naval units were called the Royal Indian Marine (RIM).

After the British Raj the Indian shipbuilders had continued to build for the Royal Navy which included ships like the HMS Hindostan, HMS Ceylon, HMS Asia, HMS Cornwallis, and HMS Minden.

Based on the information available in the public domain, between 1736 and 1821, around 159 ships of over 100 tons, including 15 ships of over 1,000 tons were produced by the Bombay Dockyard.

India also became a member of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1959. IMO is responsible for maritime protection and preventing pollution from ships.

The first time the National Maritime Day was celebrated was on April 5, 1964.


Presently, the Ministry of Shipping regulates India’s maritime transport and shipping and policies and programmes. It also has jurisdiction over national waterways, inland water transport, ports, and shipyards.

India is on a growth trajectory when it comes to the shipping and maritime industry. Optimistically speaking, the post Covid-19 slack is not for long and the boost impetus provided by the Government in the form of subsidies and capital investment for this sector shall bear fruits in the years to come. Most of our major ports are notably termed as the busiest in the world. The future is bright because of the flexible nature and the focused efforts that are taken for the upliftment of the maritime industry.

Highlights of thee industry are:

  • India has 12 Major Ports and 205 notified Non-Major Ports along its 7,500 Km long coastline and vast network of navigable waterways of 5000Km
  • Globally, India ranks #2 in ship recycling and #21 in ship building. India is ranked amongst the top 5 countries supplying trained manpower, with 17% growth in seafarers in the last 3 years.
  • The total traffic handled at Indian Ports has risen steadily from 885 MTPA in FY 2010-11 to 1,307 MTPA in FY 2019-20. India’s Major Ports have witnessed ~4% CAGR growth over the last 5 years and handled ~54% of the country’s total cargo in FY 2019-20.
  • Two Indian Ports, JNPT (#33) and Mundra (#37) have the distinction of featuring in the list of top 40 global container ports. India augmented its capacity by over 65% across all Major Ports in the last 5 years.
  • Inland Water Transport: India has increased the modal share of cargo from 0.5% to 2% and has witnessed 19% year-on-year growth in car-go volumes over the last 5 years
  • India is one of the world’s top 5 ship recycling countries and holds 30% share in the global ship recycling market.
  • India has become the fourth country in the world to have its independent Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)
  • The Government of India allows 100% FDI under the automatic route for port development projects
  • The cumulative FDI equity inflow in the Port industry is USD 1,637.30 Bn during the period April 2000 to September 2020


It is a ten-year blueprint for the maritime sector which was released by the Prime Minister of India at the Maritime India Summit in November 2020.

It supersedes the Sagarmala initiative and aims to boost waterways, give a fillip to the shipbuilding industry and encourage cruise tourism in India.

Policy Initiatives and Development Projects:

Maritime Development Fund: A Rs. 25,000-crore fund, which will provide low cost, long-tenure financing to the sector with the Centre contributing Rs. 2,500 crore over seven years.

Port Regulatory Authority: A pan-India port authority will be set up under the new Indian Ports Act (to replace the old Indian Ports Act 1908) for enabling oversight across major and non-major ports, enhance institutional coverage for ports and provide for structured growth of the ports sector to boost investor confidence.

Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid project: It will aim to develop regional connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

Riverine Development Fund: Calls for extending low cost, long-term financing for inland vessels with the support of a Riverine Development Fund (RDF) and for extending the coverage of the tonnage tax scheme (applicable to ocean-going ships and dredgers) to inland vessels also to enhance the availability of such vessels.

Rationalisation of Port Charges: It will make them more competitive, besides doing away with all hidden charges levied by ship liners to bring in more transparency.

Promotion of Water Transport: For decongestion of urban areas, and developing waterways as an alternative means of urban transport.

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