India sets up advisory board to revive maritime sector

The Directorate General of Shipping has set up a 40-member advisory board comprising officials from the Ministry of Shipping, Shipping Corporation of India, Indian Maritime University and other industry stakeholders to address “issues and challenges faced” by the sector. This also includes creating a strategy to deal with “geopolitical challenges” that include maritime security and international relations.

The Committee was mandated to work on issues related to fleet modernisation (coping with ageing ships, technological upgrading of the entire fleet, etc.), infrastructure development (including development and modernisation of ports), improving logistical connections, as well as addressing access to capital.

According to the Ministry of Shipping, India’s merchant shipping fleet numbers around 1,500 vessels with a gross tonnage of 14 million tons (mt). The average age of the fleet is around 18 years. Sources indicate that nearly two-thirds of the ships flying the Indian national flag are engaged in coastal shipping

The advisory board will also look for ways to compete globally by developing subsidies and incentives, among other things. It will consider suggestions for workforce and skills training, formulate and review policies on green shipping.

India is the world’s third-largest supplier of seafarers, after China and the Philippines, accounting for 9.35 percent of the world’s seafaring population. The country has about 30 percent market share in the shipbreaking industry, with Alang in Gujarat being the world’s largest facility.

There are sixteen broader points in total – which also include interacting with ‘principal consultants’ for technology-based initiatives; taking the lead in representing India at international maritime conferences; and advising on the approach to be taken in international fora.

“Coordinated efforts by the government, private sector and international partners are needed to create a robust, modern and competitive maritime industry. The future of the Indian maritime sector depends on its ability to adapt to technological advancements, regulatory changes and global market dynamics, while supporting sustainable and inclusive growth,” said a DG – Shipping order issued earlier this month.

DG Shipping is a unit subordinate to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. It deals with all executive matters related to commercial shipping.

Nomination of maritime experts

The regulation also provides for the appointment of subject experts who will continue to assist the advisory board. Currently, eight such experts have been appointed.

“Furthermore, the Advisory Board may co-opt additional experts such as technological experts, legal experts and international advisors, etc., as may be necessary to strengthen the advisory team,” the order stated.