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'Committed to the growth of Indian maritime industry'

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Abdulgani Y Serang, General Secretary cum Treasurer of National Union of Seafarers of India

The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) is Mumbai based largest and oldest shipping trade union. NUSI was founded in 1932 by Khansaheb Mohamed Ebrahim Serang. It was established for the right of employment, increase in wages and improvement of working conditions of Indian seafarers. Presently, NUSI has around 90,000 seafarers as members working aboard Indian as well as foreign cargo ships across the globe. NUSI also operates an Offshore Training Institute near Mumbai to impart maritime skills to Indian students on a no-profit-no-loss basis. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Abdulgani Y Serang talks about his organization and its support to the growth of the Indian maritime industry.

How does NUSI support the growth of the Indian maritime industry?
India is the 16th largest maritime country in the world, with a coastline of about 7,517 kms. India has 12 major and 187 non-major ports. The Indian ports and shipping industry plays a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce. Indian maritime sector is growing at an exponential pace currently. According to the Ministry of Shipping, around 95% of India's trading by volume and 70% by value is done through maritime transport currently. In such a scenario, NUSI monitors and supports the career growth of all its members or ratings (junior level semi-skilled seafarers or marine workforce) working aboard specialized cargo ships, and thus facilitates the supply of a disciplined marine workforce to the Indian maritime industry. Also, our well-trained members are in huge demand in the global marine industry. Primarily, NUSI safeguards the interests of its members, the Indian seafarers, through various initiatives throughout the year. Indian as well as foreign shipping as well as ship management companies have a preference for NUSI members for inducting them aboard the cargo ships for semi-skilled jobs of various kinds.

As an industry veteran, do you suggest Indian students to join merchant navy?
Yes, certainly. There are around 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo across the globe. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by over a million of seafarers of virtually every nationality. From India alone, there are over 1.3 lakh seafarers (around 7% of the global population of seafarers) who serve on ships of both Indian and international principals. Seafarers working aboard cargo ships earn lucrative salaries in US Dollars. Indian seafarers become financially independent at a young age because of high earnings and substantial savings. Also, Indian Offshore Oil Industry offers excellent opportunities to Indian students.

Please elaborate more on the opportunities offered by the Indian Offshore Oil Industry...
Indian Offshore Oil Industry is related to oil exploration activities in the ocean near Indian coast. This industry is growing at an exponential pace. Scientists from India, the US and Japan have recently struck upon a large natural gas deposit in the Bay of Bengal, the first potentially producible discovery in the Indian Ocean. This is why; a world-class marine training institute, NUSI Offshore Training Institute (NOTI) is the most sought college by the students aspiring for a career in the offshore industry. Located near Mumbai, NOTI is run on a no-profit-no loss basis and thus offers a variety of courses at highly subsidized fees to the students. NOTI supports PM Narendra Modi’s Skill India mission as all courses offered by the institute primarily focus on job oriented training imparted by eminent teachers and known leaders of the Maritime industry, while the infrastructure of NOTI is one of the best in Asia and offers a range of operational and safety training programs covering wide spectrum of Offshore Support Vessels and other Oil and Gas sector operations.  

Many Indian seafarers have been issued notices by Income Tax department. How is NUSI helping the seafarers to fight the dept.’s recent ruling?  
In association with The Maritime Union of India or MUI, NUSI has challenged the recent income tax ruling asking seafarers to pay taxes on income earned by working on either Indian or foreign ships. We have already approached Calcutta High Court to seek justice. An eminent tax firm based in Mumbai, Dave & Padvekar Associates is assisting NUSI-MUI combine to protect the interests of Indian seafarers.

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