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Special Content

Issue no 31, 28 Oct - 03 Nov 2023

Global Maritime India Summit 2023

Renewed Emphasis on Seafarer Education & Upskilling


Advitya Bahl


India's maritime sector is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation, powered by its abundant maritime resources. As we set sail into the future, India's maritime industry emerges as a linchpin that can steer the nation toward its ambitious goal of achieving a $20 trillion economy by 2040. In this grand tapestry of India's economic ambitions, there exists an imperative that's often overlooked yet pivotal-seafarer education and upskilling. The recently concluded Global Maritime India Summit 2023, hosted in Mumbai, has invigorated and catalysed these initiatives with renewed enthusiasm.

Global Maritime India Summit: Significance and Highlights: India's unwavering commitment to profound and transformative change is evident through a multitude of initiatives that have re-shaped the maritime landscape. The Sagarmala Programme, a cornerstone of this vision, stands tall as a testament to the potency of port-led development, revolutionising logistics, and breathing life into coastal regions, transforming them into vibrant hubs of progress. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has charted a bold course towards modernising infrastructure, championing coastal shipping, and nurturing a thriving Blue Economy.

In this era of expansion and evolution, India's maritime sector has nurtured an ambition to quadruple port capacity. Automated port operations are set to revolutionise efficiency and productivity. With an unwavering focus on sustainable development, India is committed to embracing clean energy fuels, including hydrogen and alternative sources, to power maritime activities and significantly curtail environmental impact.

As India charts the course for the next decade, it aspires to claim leadership in the global cruise sector, offering world-class experiences that beckon travelers from every corner of the globe. Simultaneously, India aims to rise among the top nations in shipbuilding and repair. India's sense of responsibility as a maritime nation is unwavering, particularly evident in its determination to be a global leader in ship recycling. India's commitment to environmentally sound practices and the establishment of high industry standards sets it apart.

Furthermore, India acknowledges the untapped potential of coastal and inland waterways as drivers of economic growth. The goal is to achieve a 12% modal share, pioneering advancements in regional transport.

The Global Maritime India Summit acts as a window, offering a glimpse into the multitude of transformative initiatives offering opportunities and inviting the global community to witness the grand vision taking shape. It serves as a grand platform for global leaders, industry titans, investors, and innovators to join hands with India and partake in this extraordinary journey of co-creating a brighter future, harnessing India's vast maritime potential to unlock unpre-cedented economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development. Global Maritime India Summit 2023 witnessed participation from more than 70 countries, 215 international and national speakers and 50,000 physical and virtual attendees. Building upon the legacy of its preceding editions, the third meet unveiled broader prospects for domestic and international maritime stakeholders.

·         Rs. 10 Lakh Crore Investment: The third edition of the Global India Maritime Summit 2023 (GMIS) held in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai on 17th & 18th October 2023, left an indelible mark on India's maritime landscape by securing an astounding Rs 10 lakh crore of investment, a giant leap towards realising Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's vision of garnering a staggering Rs 80 trillion in maritime sector investments by 2047.

·         India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor: During the inaugural event, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi presented a comprehensive blueprint for India's maritime Blue Economy until 2047. At the heart of this vision lies the transformative India-Middle East - Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC), promising the development of a next-generation mega port, international container trans-shipment port, island development, inland waterways, and multi-modal hubs. These strategic initiatives not only aim to reduce business costs and minimise environmental impact but also hold the promise of creating numerous employment opportunities.

The India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) is poised to alter the global trade landscape, echoing the transformative impact of the historical Silk Route. The foundation stone of the Tuna Tekra all-weather deep draft terminal, set to be constructed at Deendayal Port Authority in Gujarat, was laid during the summit. This state-of-the-art greenfield terminal, to be developed through a Public-Private Partnership model, will be an international trade hub, facilitating next-gen vessels and serving as a gateway for Indian trade via the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC).

·         New Projects and MoUs: The GMIS 2023 witnessed the foundation-laying of projects valued at more than Rs 23,000 crore, which are meticulously aligned with the maritime blueprint. GMIS 2023 provided a platform for cross-border collaboration, knowledge exchange, and the signing of numerous Memorandums of Under-standing (MoUs), emphasising a global commitment to research, technology, and infrastructure development in the maritime sector. The MoUs spanned diverse maritime sectors, including port development, green energy, and port connectivity, solidifying India's commitment to a brighter, environmentally responsible maritime future.

·         Sustainability, Environmental Responsibility, and Digitalization: Sustainability, environmental respon-sibility, and digitalization took center stage in the discussions at GMIS 2023. The summit showcased investment opportunities, from port infrastructure development to shipbuilding, aimed at elevating India's maritime sector. The event featured insightful sessions addressing key aspects of the maritime industry, from green shipping to the latest trends in shipping and maritime logistics. Minister of Road Transport & Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari discussed the integration of inland waterways into multimodal economic corridors, while strategies for promoting coastal shipping were debated. Eminent speakers from various sectors, including government officials, industry leaders, and renowned experts, shared their insights and expertise, contributing to the wealth of knowledge disseminated during the event.

India's Maritime Sector Transformation: In the past decade, India's maritime sector had undergone a profound transformation, setting the nation on a course towards unprecedented growth and progress. Through strategic reforms and visionary projects, the sector has emerged as a potent catalyst for economic development and global competitiveness.

At the forefront of this maritime revolution is the Sagarmala programme, a visionary initiative that has redefined port-led development in India. By optimizing the transportation of goods, it has not only made it cost-effective and faster but has also elevated India's standing in the global trade arena. Major ports' capacity has surged by a staggering 102%, reaching an impressive 1,617 million metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) from 800 MTPA.

One of the game-changing aspects of this transformation has been the digitization of operational processes, with the introduction of the Sagar Setu - National Logistics Portal (Marine). This seamless and efficient single-window platform empowers exporters, importers, and service providers, revolutionising logistics solutions and streamlining document exchange and transactions.

The Jal Marg Vikas Projects have unlocked the potential of waterways, promoting commercial navigation and offering a green and economically viable mode of transportation. This shift has propelled the sector to new heights, with National Waterways experiencing a remarkable 1734% increase in cargo handling, rising to 126 MTPA from 6.89 MTPA.

The Revised Model Concession Agreement has further catalysed the sector's growth by reducing arbitrations and litigations, embracing Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to usher in clarity, transparency, and a favourable environment for investors. The operationalised PPP projects have witnessed a 150% increase in value, reaching Rs. 40,000 crores.

Market-linked tariff guidelines have leveled the playing field for investors at major ports, enabling them to navigate market dynamics effectively, compete with private ports, and drive sustainable growth.

India's ship carrying capacity has surged by 33%, escalating from 10,000 Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) to 14,000 GRT, re-affirming the nation's commitment to self-reliance. Indian-built vessels have been given the highest priority through the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) licensing conditions, bolstering the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The Shipbuilding Financial Assistance Policy has provided support to Indian shipyards, fostering shipbuilding contracts and enhancing Indian tonnage.

In addition, India, as one of the leading seafarer nations, has witnessed a remarkable 121% increase in the number of Indian seafarers, surging from 1.17 lakhs to 2.58 lakhs.

To align with India's commitment to combat climate change, major ports are transitioning to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, contributing to a significant 139 MW of annual capacity.

Moreover, lighthouse tourism has experienced a remarkable 136% increase in footfall, welcoming 10 lakhs of visitors, showcasing the sector's potential beyond commerce.

These achievements epitomise India's unwavering determination to transform its maritime sector, embracing innovation, sustainability, and self-reliance. As India continues its voyage of progress, the world watches in awe, anticipating the emergence of a maritime superpower on the horizon. India's maritime sector is not merely evolving; it is setting sail for a brighter, more prosperous future.

Need for Upskilling Indian Seafarers, the Unsung Heroes of Global Trade: Indian seafarers have been designated as 'Key Workers' by the United Nations, implying their key role in the global economy. India's remarkable ascent in global seafarer supply chain can be attributed to the nation's decade-long efforts in nurturing industry-ready talent. The GIMS 2023 emphasised the need for providing seafarers with a more supportive and comfortable working environment in the post-pandemic era, recognising their critical role in sustaining the maritime sector's growth. Although Indian seafarers are renowned for their competence, adaptability, and technical expertise, there is a need for specialised training programmes that equip them and the global seafaring population with the knowledge and skills required for operating and maintaining ships powered by alternative fuels and energy-efficient technologies. Leveraging this potential, India can position itself as a key player in the global maritime industry's sustainable future, as global alliances are committed to accelerating shipping decarbonisation by getting commercially viable deep-sea zero-emission vessels into operation by 2030 to put shipping on a path for full decarbonisation by 2050. It is estimated that around 450,000 seafarers worldwide will require additional training by 2030, and not less than 800,000 by the mid-2030s will be sailing on ships with alternate propulsion technology.

Maritime Education and Research in India: One of the prime catalysts in India's transformation into a global maritime powerhouse is the Indian Maritime University (IMU), which boasts the oldest Maritime Training Institutions within its ambit. IMU's participation in the Global Maritime India Summit 2023 was a testament to its commitment to shaping the future of maritime education and research in India.

·         One landmark achievement was the launch of IMU's e-library, an invaluable resource that promises to revolutionise the learning experience for maritime students and researchers.

·         Another significant development was the inauguration of IMU's revamped website, a user-friendly portal that will facilitate access to information and resources for students and researchers.

·         IMU's commitment to energising maritime education and research was further demonstrated through the signing of Memoranda of Under-standing (MoUs) with esteemed international institutions. These collaborations aim to foster knowledge exchange, research, and innovation in the maritime sector. Erasmus University, UPT, and the Centre for Urban Port & Transport Economics, affiliated with the University of Rotterdam, are now official partners of IMU. These partnerships will facilitate academic-industry collaboration and promote the development of marine-related programmes, furthering the Indo-Dutch collaborations.

·         Eastern University (EU), Trincomalee Campus, Sri Lanka, has sought India's support to develop marine-related programmes. IMU's role as a major knowledge partner is set to enhance the educational landscape of Sri Lanka in the field of maritime studies.

·         IMU's collaboration with the International Ocean Institute (IOI), Malta, opens doors to expertise in ocean governance and related studies. This partnership is intended to develop short certificate programmes and explore the possibility of long Master's programmes, contributing to the global understanding of maritime affairs.

·         The understanding between Kamarajar Port Limited and IMU offers invaluable opportunities for students, including port visits and internships. This collaboration aims to leverage the port's resources for the benefit of IMU students and promote hands-on learning.

·         The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, renowned for excellence in higher education, has partnered with IMU to foster cooperation in faculty and administrative staff, research institutions, and collaborative research studies on seafarers' issues.

·         Another noteworthy partnership has been established between IMU and Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV), a Central University specialising in transport and logistics education in India. This collaboration will focus on research and development in line with the Maritime India Vision 2030 and the National Logistics Policy framework 2022.

·         Visakhapatnam Port Authority, a major port committed to becoming a green port, has reached out to IMU for collaborative projects aimed at making the port more environmentally sustainable.

·         IMU's experiential learning initiative, mirroring the International Maritime Organization (IMO) sittings, offers students the opportunity to engage in simulated IMO sessions, enhancing their functional knowledge and practical skills. This initiative has garnered substantial support from various stakeholders, including the Institute of Marine Engineers India (IMEI), alumni, RINA, and Lloyds Register.

·         The future holds even more promise, with IMU gearing up to open the competition to International Maritime Institutions in the next edition.

The author is correspondent of a leading New Delhi-based daily newspaper. Feedback on this article can be sent to: feedback.employmentnews@gmail.com

Views expressed are personal.