The number of active Indian seafarers – that is Indian seafarers employed by Indian or foreign-flagged ships -has grown by about 45 percent in the last three years. In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today, the Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) and Chemical & Fertilizers Shri Mansukh Mandaviyainformed that the number has increased from 143940 in 2016 to 208799 in 2018.
The Minister informed that the Government has taken several initiatives and policy decisions to help increase the share of Indian seafarers at the global level. For example, seafarers are being employed on ships through secured paths i.e. either by Indian shipowners on Indian flagships, 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. With employment and welfare of Indian seafarers being regulated through relevant rules framed in consonance with Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, more and more foreign shipowners are engaging Indian seafarers onboard their ships.
In addition, the promulgation of new, simplified, Continuous Discharges Certificate (CDC) Rules in 2017, making the entire process of issuance of CDC paperless and online, has facilitated an increase in the number of Indian seafarers. Introducing e-submission of engagement & discharge details by the Indian shipowners and registered RPSL in the DGS e-governance system have also proved useful.
Shri Mandaviya also informed that important initiatives have been taken in recent years to enhance employment opportunities for the youth in the maritime sector. These include increasing onboard training opportunities, improving the examination and certification system and facilitating ease of doing business.
The Minister informed that a decision was taken to allow on-board training of officers and ratings on tugs and offshore vessels also. This has opened additional onboard training berths for nearly 4000 trainees. Training institutes are being held responsible for onboard ship training of the students. Further, constant monitoring of the Recruitment and Placement Services License (RPSL) has encouraged unregistered Recruitment and Placement Services (RPS) to come under the RPSL regime. In the year 2013, there were approximately 300 registered RPSL which rose to 485 in 2018.
The Training curriculum for officers and ratings were revised in 2016 to meet global standards and the expectation of foreign employers. The Government has brought in major regulatory relaxation for obtaining Indian Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) which is a pre-requisite for boarding a vessel for the purposes of employment.
Shri Mandaviyafurther informed that the Ministry of Shipping has lifted an earlier ban on the conduct of post sea modular courses, pre-sea GP ratings and pre-sea courses. This would increase the number of Indian seafarers onboard ships. The ministry has also introduced a few new courses in line with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Model courses.
a) Guidelines for Basic Training for ships operating in Polar Water Course.
b) Guidelines for Advanced Training for ships Operating in Polar Water course and
c) Guidelines for Assessment, Examination and Certification of Seafarers (AECS) course.
The Minister also informed that the Directorate General of Shipping is working to bring an exhaustive list of services under one digital portal to ensure transparency and efficiency.