Navy ex-chief rues weak shipping sector

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CHENNAI - India had “missed the bus” in the maritime sector and needs to chalk out new strategies to shore up its capabilities, former navy chief Arun Prakash said here Thursday.

“Traditionally India is a maritime nation. But we forgot that after the Mughal and British invasions. We have missed the bus in the maritime sector and there is need to reverse this situation amongst our youth and policy makers,” Prakash told reporters here.

He was speaking a day before the two-day India Maritime Technology Conference kicks off here.

Industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) will be organising the event at the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) here.

Prakash, also the NMF chairman, said that nearly 80 percent of Indian navys needs are met indigenously and that maritime does not mean just the navy but also merchant shipping sector.

According to him, a small country like Philippines sends out around 150,000 sea fairing professionals whereas the number for India is just 80,000.

He said Indias own aircraft carrier is being built in Cochin in Kerala and will be ready in couple of years time.

Globalisation of markets in turn means movement of goods via sea. Indias share in global ship building sector is just one percent. There is a potential for business worth Rs.2,500 crore per annum in ship repairs alone, CII’s deputy chairman (southern region) T.T. Ashok said.

Indias reliance on maritime transportation is high as 95 percent of the countrys international trade and 84 percent of its oil travels by ship, the industry lobby said.

Indias seaborne trade is estimated around $70 billion annually, it said.

The conference will focus on ship building and repair, maritime systems, equipment and integration, port and harbour development, human resource for maritime sector, research and development needs, maritime security and surveillance.

Also scheduled is a panel discussion on futuristic design on offshore windmills, apart from an exhibition of products and services related to the maritime sector.

According to Ashok, around 250 delegates are expected to participate in the conference.

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