Shipping industry needs to expand, modernize and become competitive: President Patil

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New Delhi, Oct.2 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil said on Saturday that there is a need for the shipping industry to continuously expand, modernize and become competitive.

Speaking on the golden jubilee ceremony of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) here, President Patil said, "India is the fourth leading economy in the world in terms of its purchasing power and one of the fastest growing. This necessitates that the shipping industry in India must gear up to meet the nation's growing requirements."

Trading by sea is vital to world trade. Ships continue to provide a reliable way of moving bulk cargo from continent to continent. Ninety percent of global trade is carried by sea, and the total sea borne trade estimates have over the last four decades more than quadrupled, the President stated.

"Around 90 percent of India's overseas trade in terms of volume and 70 percent by value are sea-borne. The shipping industry should continuously expand, modernize and become competitive. I am informed that the SCI has plans to expand its fleet so as to meet the requirement of the growing trade of the country. I would urge that this be done in a time bound manner and with emphasizes given to latest technologies," said President Patil.

She said that it was also important that the shipping industry focuses on specialized handling, as transportation of different commodities and cargos require different forms of ships, containerization and handling equipment.

Stating that the SCI was the first shipping company to venture into the highly specialized and greener sphere of LNG transportation, with the formation of joint ventures with leading International shipping companies, the President said, "I am informed that till date, the SCI is the only shipping company in India providing transportation of LNG."

She also said that energy has an intrinsic link with the entire economic activity of the country. "It is considered to be the very engine that drives economic growth. Its availability is the key to sustainable development, and has a direct impact on the entire economy and day to day lives of our fellow countrymen."

Mentioning that India is dependent on import of oil, gas and coal for meeting its energy requirements and further, with the country's energy requirement expected to grow manifold in the coming years, the President said, "the shipping industry will need to play a pivotal role in achieving this mission. I hope that the SCI will have a leading role in this endeavour."

The President said the efficiency of any industry was dependent on its human resources. Hence, training and capacity building must be given high importance.

"Today, seafarers from India are considered to be one of the best in the world, in terms of their quality and efficiency. There are about 54 crore youth in our country. Our youth are looking for opportunities to work. A maritime career can be a very promising option for them," said the President.

The President called upon the shipping industry for drawing youth who were looking for employment opportunities.

"I call on our shipping industry to attract the youth and to invest in their training. The SCI has been providing training to the country's seafarers over the years, and I hope it will continue to do so with great zeal. India can become the hub for manpower development for the maritime nations of the developing world," said President Patil.

"It gives me great pleasure to inaugurate the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of The Shipping Corporation of India. I extend my warm greetings to its entire team for completing five decades of yeoman service to the nation.

Established as a small Public Sector Unit about fifty years ago under the inspiration of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, it has now grown to become the largest and most diversified shipping company, a Navratana PSU of our country. That this organization was founded on 2nd October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation, imposes on it a duty to work in accordance to his principle of "progress through fair practices".

"Today which is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence, we must affirm our commitment to uphold the Gandhian values of truth and non-violence, harmony and tolerance. These values won India its freedom and have provided an ethical underpinning to the nation. The philosophy of Gandhiji is of great relevance in our world and essential for peace, progress and prosperity of humankind."

Earlier, the President said that the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) had contributed immensely in establishing a significant place for our country, as a strong maritime nation, on the global maritime map.

India has one of the largest merchant shipping fleets and in 2009 was ranked 16th in the world. The SCI, which has a diversified fleet with almost one third of the country's total tonnage, is transporting various products and goods to meet the requirements of the country.

"Shipping has got collateral linkages with several other industrial activities of considerable economic consequence. Thus, the corporate slogan of SCI - "Transporting Goods Transforming Lives", truly reflects the significance and contributions of SCI's services towards the needs and development of the nation," President Patil stated. (ANI)

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