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Seafarers Day celebrated with the relevant theme, Seafarers are Key Workers

The hardworking seafarers were responsible in ensuring that the shipping industry fulfilled its task of carrying about 90% of the world’s goods, said Mr. Mansukh Laxmanbhai Mandaviya, Union Minister of State for Shipping (India) (Independent Charge), participating in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Seafarers Day on June 25.

Mr. Mandaviya, who was the chief guest on the occasion, which was celebrated through video conferencing acknowledged that the theme “Seafarers are Key Workers” was appropriate as it was necessary for the world to recognize and appreciate to recognize the work of the Seafarers, particularly during the present pandemic, and to thank them for their contribution.

He congratulated and acknowledged the contribution of Indian seafarers in the economic development of the country and thanked their families for supporting them in their challenging job.

He highlighted that problems that they were facing in the ‘Sign On’ and ‘Sign Off’ process during the lockdown period

The Minister was happy to note the spiraling increase in the number of Indian seafarers on the global map. He stated that this would create more employment opportunities as well as high paying jobs for the Indian youth.
The Indian Government has helped increase the share of Indian seafarers at a global level. Seafarers are able to be employed on vessels, either by Indian shipowners on Indian flag ships, regulated under Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 or on foreign flag ships through registered Recruitment and Placement Services License (RPSL) under Merchant Shipping (R&PS) Rules 2016. The number of the active Indian seafarers has increased by 45% in the last years; the Indian seafarers employed by Indian or foreign vessels had increased from 143,940 in 2016 to 208,799 in 2018.
Mr. Mandaviya assured the seafarers that he was working and would continue to work for their betterment by taking up issues like offering rebate on taxes to seafarers working on the Indian flagged ships too.

Mr. SPS Jaggi the chairman of the National Maritime Day Celebration organising Committee and Director (P&A) SCI welcoming the guests lauded the dynamic leadership of Mr. Mandaviya which was endearing him to the shipping fraternity.

He extended a warm welcome to Mr. Amitabh Kumar, DG (Shipping) and Ms. H K Joshi, CMD, SCI, officials of DG (Shipping) and the Shipping Ministry, past and present leading luminaries of the shipping fraternity, members of various associations of Ship owners, various Unions and associations representing officers and crew and other stakeholders of the maritime industry; And, more significantly, to the seafarers and their family members.

Speaking about the Pandemic, he said that he was reminded of the words of Winston Churchill who had, during a key moment in the battle of Britain, said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. He appreciated the role of the doctors, health workers, police, paramilitary personnel, essential service workers and other corona warriors in battling with this pandemic

He also lauded contributions of the shipping administrators, the shipping owners, Unions and associations for Team spirit in mitigating the hardships faced by not everyone across the globe.

Mr. Amitabh Kumar thanking the Minister, seafarers and the NMDC Committee for organising the Online Event to mark “Day of the Seafarers” said that though, due to corona virus this year, the celebrations were restricted , the importance of the day has never been so pronounced. This was the day, he said, when we remember and acknowledge our seafarers for their great contribution to the society at large.

To emphasize the importance of the seafarer, he quoted the message of Mr. Kittack Lim, IMO, Secretary General, (who is also a seafarer) which said: “Job of seafarer is not easy when the whole world is under lockdown. The seafarer has been saddled with the responsibility to feed everyone, to give all the facilities they require at home and to provide not only the essential services but all their needs and also to keep the world population safe with supplies when they are confined in their homes.”

The DG also dealt on the problems being experienced by the shipping companies as well as other recognized organizations due to shortage of staff. Due to limited staff, he added, the seafarers were now sharing shore staff responsibilities. The seafarers, he stated, had also to take care of their families without being around. He commended the seafarers for having responded in a positive manner to the problems posed before them due to corona virus and lockdown. He also appreciated and acknowledged the efforts of the employer, shipping companies, the Associations like INSA, MASSA, FOSMA and unions who played a big role during the pandemic.

In conclusion Mr. Amitabh Kumar thanked the seafarers and their families for their support during this challenging period.

Ms Harjeet Kaur Joshi, Chairperson and Managing Director of SCI, in her keynote address delved on the contribution of seafarers in maintaining the global supply chain irrespective of all the challenges and hardships including remaining away from homes for months. Their support and dedication during the current time of pandemic, she added, was even more valuable and deserved all the credit and praise.

She averred, “On the International Day of the Seafarer, I feel truly honoured to be called and speak on the contribution being made by the seafarers in support of humanity, sea borne trade, the economy and the civil society at large.” She added, “As beautifully elucidated by IMO Secretary General in his address, Seafaring is a tough and demanding job, which requires extreme tenacity and fitness, both physical as well as mental to survive the adversities and challenges so innate to the nature of being out at sea.”

Lauding Services of Seafarers she said that during the pandemic, when most of the industries ashore came to a grinding halt, it was only due to the dedicated seafarers that the ships continued to trade, against all odds. It was due to their service that essential goods and commodities and comforts reached all living beings around the globe. The Seafarers have truly risen to the call of duty and have managed ships’ operations during the pandemic, without much shore support, which is not only appreciable but also truly remarkable.

Speaking about the theme of the International Day of the Seafarer, “Seafarers are Key Workers”, she said that their endeavour to serve the people at large, during this period of pandemic truly symbolized them as the key workers. “The theme gives them a status, recognition in line with their role and contribution during the Pandemic. They truly kept the wheels of the economy moving and they are the key workers but for whom we wouldn’t have had the comforts we enjoyed in the Pandemic. Such is the contribution and service of our seafarers; and I call them our unseen and thus unsung heroes. They are not visible to the common man and are thus not celebrated the way other key workers have been acknowledged and recognized. However, we in the Maritime fraternity understand their role and their contribution. Life on board for a seafarer is always challenging and it has become further challenging and difficult in the current COVID environment,” she added.

Talking of the hazards faced by the seafarers, she claimed that working at sea has been classified as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in the world. Careful examination of the prospective hazards makes one realize that this job is not for the weak hearted, he added.

Referring to the strong support provided by families of seafarers she said, “We also need to thank the families of the seafarers who stood behind them providing rock-solid support which enabled the seafarers to execute their ship board duties in these challenging times.”

Underscoring the importance of seafarers, she said that more than 90 % of cargo is transported by ships, this means that 90% of the trade is directly controlled and facilitated by the seafarers. Shipping was the backbone of the global economy and the seafarers were the backbone of Shipping, she declared.

The event was Moderated by Mr. S.M. Rai, Ms. Sonali Bannerji and Shri Sanjeev Mehra and was coordinated by Ms. Bharati Bhandarkar the members of NMDC committee.

Mr. Satyapraksh member Secretary, NMD (C) Committee gave Vote of thanks.

BACKGROUND OF ‘DAY OF THE SEAFARER’

Incidentally, it may be mentioned that The International Maritime Organization, which is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping, decided in 2010 to designate June 25 as International Day of the Seafarer. This was done to highlight the fact that almost everything we use in our daily lives is either directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.

Apart from highlighting the work they do, the purpose of the day is to also thank them for their contribution to the civil society and world economy. Along with that it also aims to recognise the risks and personal costs they bear while on their jobs. Another purpose is to bring global attention to the issues affecting their work and lives, such as piracy.

This special day has been celebrated since 2011. Sailors/Seafarers are essential to global trade and transport which is why on this day, people take to social media to thank sailors for their important services. Some cities also hold special events for their sailors on this day.

Moreover, on this day, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) also tries to spread awareness about the work and lives of seafarers. The IMO uses this day to discuss issues like sailor rights at foreign ports. Moreover, private ship companies and owners are asked to provide their seafarers with adequate facilities for a safe journey on the seas. The safety of sea travel is also discussed by the International Maritime Organization.

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