Published in Sagar Sandesh English Maritime Weekly Tabloid on Dec 5, 2012 edition
While resentment against the continuation of Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) programme among the more than 10,000 sea-time waiting cadets is growing day by day, conflicting signals, instead of positive, are emanating from Indian Maritime University (IMU) about the future of the course.
According to the latest notification from the IMU, decision to conduct IMU Common Entrance Test (CET) for February 2013 batch is yet to be taken in consultation with DG Shipping. “The same will be notified (to the affiliated institutes) after the decision is taken,” read the notification.
Normally, notification for IMU-CET February batch for the one-year DNS course leading to B.Sc. Nautical Science Programme on IMU campus and its affiliated institutes will be issued by November every year and the test will be conducted around December.
“While these 10,000-odd cadets are still waiting for mandatory 18 months sea-time to complete their degree, why IMU is still thinking of continuing the course, which would only add to the already bulged list,” is the agony of the affected students.
Meanwhile, Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) in a circular requested all the pre-sea institutes to submit the placement records of the candidates passed out from their institutes, during the years 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Whereas the submission of placement record has been made mandatory as per DGS Circular No.1 of 2008, till date many institutes have not submitted the required placement records - the circular noted the state-of-the affairs in maritime education.
According to sources, the move would help the DG Shipping to analyze the demand and supply pattern in the industry which is likely to influence on the future of the DNS programme.
“Stop the DNS course at once to give opportunity for those 10,000-odd cadets, who came to maritime institutes with loads of dream of becoming officers onboard,” declared Dr. R. Lakshmipathy, President of R.L. Institute of Nautical Sciences, Madurai (RLINS).
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, Dr. Lakshmipathy said: “My prayer now to DG Shipping, the Shipping Ministry and Indian Maritime University (IMU) is that let them sit together and find out a permanent solution to this burning problem.”
“From my point of view, as a responsible man inculcating maritime education to thousands of students for more than a decade, banning the DNS programme, like the ban on the Ratings enforced earlier, will be the perfect answer to those 10,000 plus students who are at crossroads,” Dr. Lakshmipathy opined.
This ban should not be lifted at any cost unless and until the entire glut is totally cleared and confirmed with appropriate proof that the hapless cadets are absorbed by the shipping companies and suitably placed, he suggested.
Dr. Lakshmipathy lamented that the IMU is plagued by corruption, nepotism, favouritism and the like.
Maintaining this ‘white elephant’, a Himalayan blunder committed by the predecessors, is a Herculean task for the current Vice Chancellor, Prof. G. Raghuram, and the new Chancellor, Dr. V. Krishnamoorthy, but they alone -with their past history of integrity, commitment and determination – can clean the Augean table with an iron hand coupled with a soft corner for the uncared for cadets. While appreciating the goal and intention of the present VC and DGS, he appealed to them to mercilessly weed out the unwanted elements and remove the excess staff who are indeed a pain in the neck of IMU, apart from being a burden to the august body.
With regard to the Union Shipping Minister’s version of fund crunch, Dr. R. Lakshmipathy urged the Central Government to make separate allocation in the annual Union Budget. It is not fair and proper to allow or ask the educational institutions to raise funds to make good the deficit, from the hard-earned money of students, who sell their property and jewels or secure loans from banks, to pursue their studies in the ambition of becoming a seafarer.
V-C WAS POSITIVE
When Sagar Sandesh brought to light the issue of growing mismatch in demand and supply in DNS programme a few months ago, Prof. G. Raghuram, Vice- Chancellor of Indian Maritime University (IMU), had said that if the market is not there, the varsity should freeze the DNS course.
He also made it in crystal clear terms that there are thoughts (in the IMU circle) as to why not make it a B.Sc directly due to non-availability of 18-month sea-time slots for DNS cadets (by doing away with DNS diploma programme).
It is learnt that the IMU is under tremendous pressure from its affiliated institutions not to take any decision on DNS programme soon. According to informed sources in IMU, many institutions, which have invested heavily on infrastructure creation to accommodate any multiples of 40 students in a batch, are against any such a decision by IMU and any forced reduction in the prescribed intake of students or total suspension of the course would affect them very badly.
At this juncture, Dr. Lakshmipathy came down heavily on those money-minting institutions which take shelter in the name of infrastructure, claiming that they will have to suffer a huge loss if DNS or any such course is banned. If an embargo is enforced in all earnestness on these institutions, which may have proper infrastructure like chart-rooms and class-rooms, the already created ‘infrastructure’ can very well be utilized for teaching other courses or for any other academic related matters. Hence the question of incurring loss does not arise at all. Some of the avaricious institutions without basic amenities admit any number of ambitious students, make them the scapegoats in due course and leave them in the lurch subsequently – only to amass wealth to the coffer of the managements!
“Come what may, loss is not the matter but the cause is my concern. In R.L. Institute of Nautical Sciences, we have stopped admission for B.Sc. (Nautical Technology) Course for the past two years as we do not want to produce cadets whose future will be in jeopardy”, he pointed out.
It is a pity to note that amidst this critical situation, these institutes have been approved with an intake capacity of 120, 160, 240, 247 etc.
DGS / IMU should pay immediate attention to collect the placement details of these institutes and monitor them with regard to DNS - both the placement as well as the infrastructure.
TASK FOR DGS
With the maritime educationists openly advocating for freeze in intake for DNS programme until the demand-supply ratio settles at a healthy point, Mr. Gautam Chatterjee, the new Director General of Shipping (DGS), who took over the hot seat recently, has a big task in his hand to streamline the whole system before it assumes a monstrous proportion.
If the new DG Shipping takes some bold measures to fix the problem at once, it would indeed be a welcome gesture for those thousands of cadets who are still waiting for their sea-time slots to get IMU’s B. Sc Nautical Science degree.
Besides, a section of maritime educationists have also demanded the DG Shipping to take steps to reduce the intake of cadets for future DNS batches in recognized institutes on par with their placement records.
“If the system is strictly followed, only sponsored candidates would get their chance to pursue the course which will ultimately help the industry,” a senior member of the fraternity told Sagar Sandesh.
The DNS course is a six-semester (three year) programme constituting three stages. Initially, a candidate is admitted to the one-year residential (2 semesters) presea course and on completion of I & II Semesters, the candidate will be awarded Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS).
This diploma programme is followed by one and a half year (3 Semesters -18 months) on-board ship training and the candidates will be awarded Advanced Diploma in Nautical Science.
After completion of the on-board training, the cadet has to do the sixth semester (the 6 months post-sea training) at the institute. Subsequently he has to appear for both written and oral examinations, conducted by Directorate General of Shipping. On successful passing out he gets 2nd Mate (FG)
Certificate of Competency from DGS and B.Sc. (Nautical Science) degree from Indian maritime University.
After the opening of the maritime training to private sector in 1996-97, there has been mushroom growth in the number of such institutes conducting pre-sea courses, and as on date 138 institutes are approved for conducting various pre-sea training courses of both the discipline --Nautical and Engineering.
In a recent review by the DG Shipping on the approved intake of pre-sea courses against the training berths (sea-timing) the availability has revealed that the intake capacity created for pre-sea courses significantly exceeds the training berths actually available.
During the review, DG Shipping had expressed that the large and rapidly growing backlog of trainee officers who have completed their pre-sea courses, but are unable to get the training berths on board ships -- a pre-requisite for their Certificates of Competency in the entry grade -- is really a matter of serious concern.
As the Directorate felt that the situation is slowly going out of its control, it has initiated action by imposing a restriction on new approvals/ increase in capacity of the one-year DNS course in 2011.
It may be recalled here that the new approvals of GP and CCMC courses are also under ban since 2003 and 2007 respectively.
As the maritime institutes expressed apprehensions that the effect of elusive sea-time for trainee cadets could spell doom on their future, the DG Shipping discussed the matter in detail with the representatives of the Government, Indian Maritime University and the Shipping Industry to chalk out a real solution.
During the meeting, members agreed that due to bottlenecks of shortage of training berths vis-à-vis the annual output of pre-sea trainees from training institutes, there is an oversupply of cadets who are yet to complete their structured ship board training programme.
Taking a firmer step, the DG Shipping imposed a ban on increase in capacity by restricting new approvals /increase in intake in all pre-sea courses leading to entry level Competency either at the Second Mate level or at the level of MEO Class IV, whether Foreign Going (FG) or Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) .
Though the DG Shipping banned the increase, IMU and its affiliated institutes still continue to admit students in DNS course, thus playing havoc with the lives of innocent youths, who chose the seaborne career for their economic prosperity.
According to information available, the Directorate in 2006 came out with a training circular to put the onus on the training institutes to obtain training slots on-board ships at the end of the graduation, failing which they should compensate the students by refunding the fees they have remitted. Then through DGS circulars in 2007 and 2008, as a measure of relaxation, it modified the strategy putting the
responsibility on the training institutes to tie up with shipping companies to get training slots for their cadets, failing which they should reduce their intake.
Both the cadets with Diploma in Nautical Science and B.Sc have to undergo training, i.e. at the trainee level.
The DNS cadets complete one-year pre-sea training to be awarded the Diploma in Nautical Science Certificate. Then the cadets are required to do the on-board training as a deck cadet for a minimum of
18 months plus 6 months post-sea training prior to the B.Sc (Nautical Science) and the 2nd Mates written and oral exams. Then they, as per the company requirements, are posted as 3rd Officer in the respective ships.
While the B.Sc (NS) cadets are awarded B.Sc Nautical Science Degree from the college after the completion of 3-year pre-sea training in the college, the B.Sc. Nautical Science cadets have to complete a minimum of 12 months of onboard training as a deck cadet. Then appear for 2nd Mates (FG) exams only, after which they are posted as 3rd officer in some ship.
DNS LEADING TO B.SC (N S)
- 1-year Pre-sea Training
- A minimum of 18 months Structured Shipboard Training Programme (SSTP) and
- 6-month course ashore
- 2nd Mates Written and Oral exams
- Award of COC as 2nd Mates (FG) by DGS
- Award of B.Sc. (Nautical Science) degree by IMU
--- then the 3rd Officer
BSC NAUTICAL SCIENCE
- 3-year Pre-Sea training (B.Sc Degree awarded by the affiliated university)
- 12 months SSTP (minimum) * 2nd Mates Oral exam Conducted by DGS
- Award of COC as 2nd Mates (FG) by DGS
--- then the 3rd Officer
Legal remedy for the malady
It is worth recalling here that the DGS had issued a directive in 2008 to admit only sponsored students so that they do not encounter any problem for sea-time followed by placement. But this direction has been thrown into the winds and the unscrupulous institutions make hay while the sun shines by fleecing the gullible students. Those maritime institutions which sincerely impart education as per schedule and norms are learnt to have made up their minds to seek legal remedy for this ugly malady prevalent on the campus, if the DGS directive is not implemented in letter and spirit forthwith.