Port Wings News Network:
The need of the hour is to start Schools of Excellence as much as possible in every year of maritime education, Dr. P. Vijayan, the First Vice-Chancellor of the Indian Maritime University and now the Director of IMU’s Chennai Campus, has said.
In an exclusive interview to Port Wings, Dr Vijayan said that more researches has to be taken up and funding for such research studies should be liberal. He also spoke elaborately on the present and future of Maritime Education and Training.
Q: Tell us about the background and objective of formation of Indian Maritime University?
Mr Vijayan: The Maritime Industry was longing for a University to take care of maritime studies, training, research in the fields of Ports, maritime history, maritime law, security, transportation, environmental studies and other related fields and their dreams came true by the formation of the Indian Maritime University (IMU). Broadly the objectives of IMU were to facilitate and promote maritime studies, training and research and to promote advanced research in the above field and be a pioneer in the maritime sector.
Q.As a first Vice Chancellor of IMU, how do you see the growth of maritime education over the years?
PV: After the invent of IMU, the growth of maritime education is more organized and that is the crave of the industry. New areas and new specialization like maritime law and ship repairs were included in the maritime education stream and management programmes were started on port and shipping and logistics to give more focus from management perspective of the maritime industry.
Q. How does Maritime education, which is a niche area, evolved over the years?
PV: Initially, maritime education was more of a training started with 3 months and then the training was extended upto one year. Only diplomas were offered. Later the diploma courses have become graduation programmes and researches and post graduation programmes relating to maritime field has evolved which is need of the industry with huge opportunities in the maritime field in the country.
Q. Given the huge demand for trained Indian seafarers abroad, what are the opportunities available for students studying in IMU?
PV: This is once again demand and supply. When the maritime industry is out of recession the companies go for massive recruitment as seafarers. Coming to IMU, number of leading shipping companies is recruiting students from IMU due to the fact that IMU is a central University and even it has international recognition. Around 30 of our students of the Management and Law departments are placed in reputed companies abroad as Dubai Ports, Jurang Port, Maersk Lines etc.
Q. What is the current status of employment for seafarers in India?
PV: Most of the higher rank seafarers have lot of opportunities both domestic and international and the lower rank of seafarers the employment depends on case-to-case basis. Taking stock of the situation we have transformed the Diploma in Nautical Science to a degree level so that there is an alternate available for the students to take up jobs other than seafaring.
Q. How do you see the growing challenge to Indian domination in seafaring from Philippines and other smaller countries?
PV: Indian seafarers are highly educated, better quality of education and can speak good English compared to other third world countries.
Q. What is your expectation from the Government of India to improve quality of maritime education in the country?
PV: The need of the hour is to start Schools of Excellence as much as possible in every year of maritime education. More researches has to be taken up and funding for such research studies should be liberal. Research manuals, literatures on maritime education should be done by more research scholars, teachers, and experts from the industry taking cases from India as well as abroad. Implementation of these researches in the maritime field should be done with fair field and no favour. The maritime education can be implemented right from the elementary level.
Q. A few developed nations, who have good base for maritime education and training, possess their own fleet of training ships for cadets. What is the condition in India?
PV: Possession of own fleet for training of cadets is on cards.
Q. In your view as an experienced hand in the sector, how is the Indian shipping industry doing now?
PV: The Indian shipping industry is doing well and is on a roller-coaster mode. More industries from the west are coming to India and lot of exports are taking place from India, after liberalization Indian shipping industry has gone tremendously well and when we can convert rail road cargo into sea mode and coastal movement takes place there will be phenomenal growth in the trade.
Q. The domination of world’s top crew supplying nation is in danger after growing shortage of trained hands. What are the measures IMU taking to improve it?
PV: We have a state-of-the-art curriculum and technology. We are more indigenous and in my view there may not be shortage of trained hands in India. However we are taking strenuous efforts to provide world class training from the level of cadet upto research scholar.
Q. After the introduction of Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) course by IMU, the university invited wrath from private institutions. What is the real issue in it?
PV: This is not true. In fact all private institutions that were offering maritime courses are affiliated to IMU and they look upon IMU as academic head for their programmes.