February 20, 2015

An email from Capt Sidhu...

I am publishing this email that I received from Capt BS Sidhu with his permission, in its entirety (except the salutation) and without my comments- which would mainly consist of a stream of profanity anyway. Because this sort of thing that all Indian seamen have to put up with is not the exception; it is the rule.

I have been an avid reader of your blog for the past couple of years and it has given me great pleasure to absorb the accurate (warts and all) state of affairs of the Indian shipping and manning etc etc. I think we are past redemption and there is no way we can get back to our commanding heights of professionalism of the 70s and the 80s. We will wallow in the back waters while China, Phillipines and the E. Europeans steal a march on us.

I hope u find the following narrative interesting which I underwent.........


You have been 40 years at sea. You are at the peak with all your experience and hopefully will fade away from sailing the seven seas gracefully. However, the powers that be have plenty of spanners to throw in your supposedly benign works.

Your GMDSS certificate is due to expire.

But, hey, the Powers that be in the Ministry of Communications, in their wisdom, have other plans to shaft you nice and proper. You can only renew the said Cert. within 3 months of expiry - your joining the ship be damned. And also, forget your new browsers, no Chrome, no Safari, no Opera - it is the good old Internet Explorer they want for you to browse the site! Back to the steam age. So, I reluctantly put away the iPad, iPhone and iPad the Mac. The old Windows laptop was given away to the maid's college going girl, so you are at a dead end. A quick trip to the mall and you are a proud owner of a low end basic laptop after forking out Rs. 24000/-. Now you can freely access the Wireless Ministry and DG Shipping sites on the IE as per their norms.

After carefully downloading the GMDSS Renewal Form and instructions, you are off to find a Gazetted Officer. The good ole Notary Public just doesn't seem to cut it with the Wireless folks for attesting all the various photocopies. So at the Local Estate Office you find a beady eyed  lawyer who will get it done for Rs. 1000/-. You are in a tearing hurry and agree for some dicey Gazetted Official's stamp to endorse your documents. Next day, you discover, that the Application Form too has to be endorsed. Again back to the avaricious lawyer who suddenly ups the ante for the solitary page to Rs. 1500/-. What the heck, you pay him off and finally you are in a position to send the documents by Regd. A.D. and hope for the best.

Your joining the ship is creeping up fast on you. So your company man in Delhi gets into the act with his buddy at the Wireless Ministry to push things. They promise 20 days instead of the customary one or two months. You are delirious with joy when the coveted Renewal Cert. Arrives after about 27 days.

Now on to the DG Shipping site. You are overwhelmed with the 20 odd documents you must photo copy and carry the originals to the MMD for verification. Painfully, you go step by step and collect all the requisite documents along with your latest snaps as per their stringent rules.

Then the agonising MMD Noida Rules - documents are only to be submitted between 1000 & 1200 hours. Outstation candidates be damned. Against all odd you make the Office at 1145 and hastily fill up the form handed to you by a mournful clerk. (Of course it is not available online - so you have to be harassed all the way) Then you run across the road to the designated bank to deposit a princely sum of Rs. 3000/- for your STCW endorsement. All done, you are up in heaven because your forms are accepted though the clock has struck 12. (Shades of Cinderella) You are informed to collect your STCW Endorsement the next day between 1600 & 1700 hours. Outstation candidates be damned again. You trudge out of the depressing building and seek out a hotel to avoid another trip to Delhi.

You come back the next at 1500 hoping to get an early delivery of the Cert. No joy. Rules are Rules you see, you poor sailing denizen of the Seven Seas. Finally, you are calked at 1645 hours and grab your hallowed Cert. Then, the express run to catch your train back home. You make it with 4 minutes to spare.

You wonder on the ride back .... Was this ever in your mind during your heydays. Is this what you deserve after 40 years? You are about 18000/- chips out of pocket. (forget the laptop) All this hullabaloo for a piece of paper which can easily be processed over the Net. What the hell was INDOS about if you still have to send and carry reams of paper at every Govt. Stop???
God bless the Indian Maritime Sector.

Best Regards

Capt. B. S. Sidhu

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