NATIONAL IDENTITY & PRIVILEDGES FOR MERCHANT NAVY SEAFARERS
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CREATING A NATIONAL AND SOCIAL RECOGNITION FOR SEAFARERS – NATIONAL IDENTITY CARD (NID)
At present there is NO SOCIAL RECOGNITION or respect for seafarers. The common public has no idea of the sacrifices that a seafarer makes while working on board ships. If seafarers stop working, then ships will stop and the whole economy will crumble and people will not get any food to eat. Even during the corona virus pandemic when the full country was under lock down, shipping did not stop and seafarers continued to work beyond their contractual obligations on board.
Throughout the world, all industry bodies and International organisations clap and applaud the seafarers in recognition for their undying service to keep all the essential services moving, yet society does not recognize a seafarer or give him him/her equal respect to what a military or navy personnel gets. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has declared shipping as an essential service, yet seafarers do not get any privileges beyond their time on board. There is NO PENSION scheme for seafarers after they retire. NO SPECIAL SHOPS or NAVY CANTEEN for them to buy subsidized RATIONS. NO INSURANCE coverage for them or their families after they have signed off from the ship. NO NAVY HOSPITAL to go when they or their families fall ill
MERCHANT NAVY IS THE SECOND LINE OF DEFENSE FOR THE COUNTRY - BUT MERCHANT NAVY SEAFARERS DO NOT GET THE REQUIRED RESPECT OR PRIVILEGES WHICH ALL OTHER DEFENSE FORCES ARE ENTITLED TO
The merchant navy is termed as the ‘SECOND LINE OF DEFENSE’ because during the time of war, merchant ships can be taken over by the Indian Navy along with the crew on board and used for support of the Indian navy for supplying arms, ammunition, provision or to carry navy personnel or for bunkering services. Moreover, the merchant vessels can also be used as surveillance ships for which merchant navy Captains and Radio Officers used to be given specialized training in deciphering coded interactions received from the Navy. Merchant ships have to participate in exercises together with the Navy as to be ‘ALWAYS IN READINESS’ when required to serve the nation.
Merchant ships bring in goods from different parts of the world even during the time of war. During the 10 years period of Iran-Iraq war, merchant seafarers risked their lives while bringing in the much-needed oil into our country. During this time several merchant vessels got hit by Air-Strike. One such example was the VLCC 'Kanchenjunga' an Indian super tanker which was attacked and set afire by warplanes in the Persian Gulf carrying about 140,000 Metric Tons of crude oil.
Over the years many merchant vessels have got hit leading to the death of several merchant seafarers. Yet, a seafarer never gets the social recognition which he/she deserves. The reason is because Seafarers do not have a NATIONAL IDENTITY.
This petition aims to request all seafarers, whether active, or shore based or retired, to sign in agreement that SEAFARERS SHOULD BE GIVEN A NATIONAL IDENTITY SIMILAR TO THE MILITARY, AIR FORCE AND NAVY so that all seafarers can avail of the special privileges
As a seafarer we request our Government to take into consideration the sacrifices which a seafarer has to make through his life and his/her contribution towards keeping the balance of our society intact
We request the Government and Administration to formalize the following for all SEAFARER:
· National Identity Card (NID) stating that a seafarer is an “Essential Service person’ of our nation
· Lifelong pension for seafarers after retirement
· Lifelong Health coverage for seafarers and their family and dependent parents
· Subsidized Rations from the military canteen by use of the National Identity Card
· Eligibility to use military hospital for their own and their family’s treatment.
· Subsidized Train and Air tickets on national carriers on basis of NID Quota for being ‘Essential Service persons’ of the nation
· Other Govt aids similar to the military services
The following will be a small step in providing the much-needed recognition and respect of all gallant seafarers of our nation
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