Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shattered dreams: DG Shipping sleeps on DNS cadets’ future


With no option for mandatory sea-time training in sight, future of over 3,000 Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) cadets, who were left in the lurch by their institutes, Indian Maritime University (IMU) and the Directorate General of Shipping, is getting darker day-by-day.
Though the DG Shipping took initiatives to provide sea-timing to those affected DNS cadets by entering into an MoU with the Directorate of Shipping Services, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, nothing had fructified even after a year.
While the DG Shipping ensured that there won’t be any such trouble for those students joined DNS course post-2013 with a mandatory “sea-time training sponsorship” condition, the directorate has conveniently forgotten the plight of those 3,000-odd, who are in search of sea-time training on their own for last four years.

The course is a six-semester (three year) programme constituting three stages. Initially, a student is admitted for the one year residential (two semesters) pre-sea 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) on-board ship training and after successful completion of the same, a candidate is awarded Advanced Diploma in Nautical Science (ADNS).
After completion of the on-board training, the sixth semester constitutes “Second Mate Certificate of Competency” awarded by the Director General of Shipping and simultaneous award of B.Sc., (Nautical Science) degree.
The DNS issue began in 2009, when the Directorate General of Shipping came out with an order (M.S. Notice 21 of 2009) in May, 2009, proclaiming that decision has been taken to allow the Indian Maritime University to start the Diploma in Nautical Science [DNS] programme leading to B.Sc degree in Nautical Science from August, 2009 onwards on the same lines as the DGS-IGNOU programme which was promulgated through Training Circular No.20 of April 2004.
When the DG Shipping came out with the order allowing IMU to conduct the course, they failed to read the job-market conditions in the maritime field that was withering out after an economic meltdown in the global market.


After the opening of the maritime training to private sector in 1996-97, there has been mammoth growth in number of maritime training institutes conducting pre-sea courses, and as on date more than 100 institutes are approved for conducting various pre-sea training courses of both the discipline -- Nautical and Engineering.


As the issue started to reach the doors of DG Shipping, they went on a detailed review on the approved intake of pre-sea courses against the training berths (sea-timing) availability and it has revealed that the intake capacity created for pre-sea courses significantly exceeds the training berths actually available.
During that review meeting, DG Shipping has expressed concerns 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 prerequisite for their Certificates of Competency in the entry grade, is really a matter of serious concern.


As the DG Shipping felt that the situation is getting 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.
Besides, the maritime institutes also expressed their apprehensions that the effect of elusive sea-timing for trainee cadets could spell doom on their future.Though DGS implemented the plan to limit the damage on wannabe seafarers, IMU and its affiliated institutes continued to admit students in DNS course.


According to DG Shipping sources, the Directorate in 2006 came out with a training circular to put the onus on the training Institutes to obtain training slots at the end of the graduation, failing which they should compensate the student by return of his fees spent.
However, DGS circulars in 2007 and 2008, possibly with pressure from institutes, modified the whole strategy of putting the responsibility on the training institutes to tie up with shipping companies to get training slot for their cadets.
Since the DGS “strong orders” remained only on paper and not enforced in letter and spirit, a few institutes flouted every orders. They not only admitted students to DNS courses, but also put the onus of sea-time training on the very students, who joined the course with great expectations.


Speaking to Port Wings, one of such cadets, who completed the DNS and now stuck in the middle without the sea-time training, said that most of the institutes while admitting the students had promised of linking them with those shipping companies who provide slots for students to complete sea-time training on their ships.
“However, many of them went back on their promises and literally forced the students on streets and search for sea-time training on their own,” lamented the cadet.


Taking corrective measures to secure the future of new students joining DNS course, DG Shipping in 2013 announced that admission to DNS stream hereafter could be done only after the presentation of sponsorship certificate from shipping companies by the candidates.
Though the measures secured the future of those new DNS students, absence of any strong measure to provide sea-time training for those 3000-odd cadets irks them.
“The authorities failed to understand our plight, which is drifting further with that new system, where the shipping companies would naturally prefer the fresh candidates than the out-of-touch cadets for sea-time training,” one of the dejected cadets told Port Wings.

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