- 1 When is National Maritime Day
- 2 Let’s Know All About National Maritime Day
- 3 National Maritime Day 2022: History and Significance
- 4 Conclusion
When is National Maritime Day
Let’s Know All About National Maritime Day
The Indian subcontinent was really important in historical trade as it connected the European trade giants such as France, Portugal, England to Asia. The Indian maritime history dates back to the 3rd millennium BCE. Indian maritime affairs have been pivotal in the process of globalization and foreign affairs for our country.
The National Maritime Day is celebrated to celebrate the significance of maritime to the Indian economy and its role in the global trade of India.
To celebrate the importance of intercontinental trade relations and their effect on our economy, 5th April was selected as National Maritime Day in 1964. National Maritime Day is celebrated on 5th April as it was on this day in 1919 that the first Indian commercial vessel set sail from Mumbai to London.
India’s shipping history started on 5th April 1919 when SS Loyalty was the first ship of Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd, which was also the biggest first large scale shipping company entirely owned by Indians. This day is historic in Indian shipping as the waterways were entirely under the control of the British.
The National Maritime Day Celebrations Committee celebrated the 58th edition of National Maritime Day by instituting the highest honor awarded to people who have contributed outstandingly to Indian maritime through their works. The Varuna Award, which is a statue of Lord Varuna, is given to the awardees.
National Maritime Day 2022: History and Significance
The National Maritime Day is dedicated to the importance of maritime trade in India. In global trade, India holds a strategic location. Historically, India was an essential part of the Silk Route, which connected the Middle East and Europe to East Asia countries. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Shipping, maritime constitutes 95% of India’s trading by volume and 70% by value.
The National Maritime Day is different from World Maritime Day. World Maritime Day is celebrated in the last week of September and focuses on sea trade safety and the marine environment across the world. In 1959, India also joined the International Maritime Organisation, which focuses on marine protection and prevention of pollution by ships.
National Maritime Day is celebrated each year with a particular theme and events focused on improving India’s conditions of maritime trade. In 2021, the day was celebrated with the theme ‘Sustainable Shipping beyond COVID-19’. Maritime India Vision 2030 was also discussed on occasion.
National Maritime Day 2022 will be celebrated on 5th April with more initiatives and programs to enhance the maritime trade of India, which has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic and its second wave.
Significance of Maritime Industry in India:
According to the Ministry of Shipping, the maritime industry of India contributes to 95% of India’s trading by volume and 70% by value. The Ministry of Shipping was recently renamed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
India has 12 major ports, and 205 notified intermediate and minor ports. Under the Sagarmala scheme launched in 2017, six new mega ports will be built in India. The maritime sector in India contributes heavily to the commerce and trade in India. The central government has a significant role in the development of maritime trade in India.
India has a coastline of 7517 kilometers, and it has the sixteenth largest maritime industry globally. The government has allowed FDI of up to 100 per cent under the automatic route for port and harbor construction. Enterprises will also enjoy a 10-year tax holiday to enterprises that will develop, maintain and operate ports, inland waterways, and inland ports.
India’s key ports have a capacity of 1534.91 million tons per annum. In FY20, all critical ports in India handled 704.93 million tonnes of cargo traffic.
National Maritime Day Events:
The National Maritime Day Celebrations Committee conducts the events on National Maritime Day. In 2021, the National Maritime Day was celebrated through a video conference attended by maritime personalities and seafarers from India and abroad to commemorate the maiden voyage of SS Loyalty on 5th April 1919. The conference was headed by the Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shri Mansukh Mandaviya. They congratulated all participants in the maritime sector and talked about the history of Indian maritime trade and its importance in the pre-independence era.
Like every year, the 2021’s event was also marked by the award ceremony for awarding the Varuna Award to the distinguished personalities of the maritime sector in India. The National Maritime VARUNA Award was conferred to Shri Arun Sharma, Executive Chairman, Register of Shipping.
The National Maritime Day of 2021 also marked the announcement and discussion of Maritime India Vision 2030, which will transform the maritime industry of India for good.
Maritime India Vision 2030:
Maritime India Vision 2030 is a ten-year program aiming to overhaul the Indian maritime sector and anticipate an expenditure of 3 lakh crore investment in port projects across India that promises to generate employment for 20 lakh people. This 10-year blueprint was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the three day Maritime India Summit on National Maritime Day 2021.
The government plans on spending Rs 1-1.25 lakh crore on developing existing port structures across India and estimates providing employment to 7 to 10 lakh persons. The plan also includes an 80000 crore investment to build port facilities and develop mega-city ports in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and the Odisha-West Bengal cluster.
The blueprint also includes steps to increase India’s ranking in the ease of doing business index. This will be accomplished by digitizing Indian ports and implementing an Enterprise Business System by digitizing the major ports by 2021.
A National Marine Logistics Portal will also be developed to make all processes paper-less with features like online payment and e-registration of ships through a unified e-registration portal. According to the plan, industrialisation across ports will generate revenue of Rs 10,000 crores for the major ports while having cost savings of Rs 20,000 crore.
Also, the shifting from Rail/Road transport to coastal transport will have cost savings of 9,000-10,000 crores. The plan also aims to create more sustainable ports by increasing the use of renewable energy from 10% to 60% till 2030 while also promoting wealth to waste programs, including recycling domestic ships and sustainable dredging by 2030.
It also includes a ‘Make for India, Makes for the World’ program, which will aim at increasing the ship-building capacity of India by 15 times by 2030 and become a leading shipbuilding country in the world. The plan also provides incentives to the major stakeholders through the setup of a maritime development fund and develops India’s cruise industry by creating dedicated cruise terminals at 12 ports.
Cruise tourism will be divided into five different themes, i.e. pilgrim, ayurvedic and wellness, heritage, island tourism, and international circuits, which will involve India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand. The promotion of cruise tourism in India will also contain incentives to global cruise companies to make India their home port. This would help increase India’s share of seafarers from 12 per cent to over 20 per cent.
The blueprint also includes prioritising the development of 23 national waterways while focusing on eastern waterways connectivity to decrease transport costs from countries in the East like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. This will be done in Phase I while increasing the cargo movement from 75 million tonnes per annum to over 200 million tonnes per annum.
The Maritime India Vision 2030 ultimately focuses on creating “smart ports” and further “intelligent ports” till 2030.
History of National Maritime Day in India:
The history of maritime trade in India started in the 3rd Millennium BCE, with the Indus Valley Civilization having maritime contact with Mesopotamia. During the Maurya period, the records show that there was a distinct naval department that looked over trade and ships. Vedic texts have mentioned trading with the far east and countries of Arabia.
India had a flourishing trade relationship with the Romans. The Indian goods reached Rome during the rule of Augustus, and Indian merchants earned about 1 million sesterces annually. The Romans later criticised this.
Due to the increase in trade between India and Rome, the majority of goods imported to western countries became spices instead of silks and other commodities. This trade made many scholars at the time think that there is no end to the riches in India, and after the Ottoman expansion in Europe, Portuguese seafarers led by Vasco Da Gama.
The trade between Indian merchants and Southeast Asian countries was also flourishing before the British rule in India. These trade routes were also pivotal in the spread of Buddhism across Asia.
The Maritime Silk Route flourished between the 2nd Century BC and the 15th Century AD. The Maritime Silk Route connected China, India, Southeast Asia, Egypt, Somalia and Europe. Although credited to China, the Maritime Silk Route was initially established and controlled by the Austronesian sailors and Tamil merchants were also significant on this route.
For most of its history, the Maritime Silk Route was sailed on by Southeast Asian sailors and later on, Tamil and Persian traders were also influential on the route. This route was significant in the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism in Southeast Asia.
The maritime trade of India was the main reason behind the British occupation of Indian land. The trade during British Raj was detrimental for the conventional ports of Surat or Calicut, and there was a rise in newer port areas developed by the British.
The goods traded during the British rule mainly were indigo, cotton and opium cultivated by Indian farmers, which were then either exported to Europe or East Asia through China and Burma. Trade by Indian merchants suffered a lot during the British Raj.
After the independence, the focus has been on making better use of India’s extensive coastline and its strategic location in Asia. The government has brought out many different projects and programmes which focus on enhancing the port projects across India while improving the inland trade channels and waterways.
Due to the high expenditure in using roadways and railways, the Indian government and the logistics companies across India have begun investing in port projects and develop systems to make the process of transporting goods inside India and to other countries much simpler and more efficient.
The maritime industry in India has been significant throughout its history and the economic benefits arising out of it are important for the growth of our country.
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National Maritime Day is celebrated every year in India on 5th April and it is dedicated to the importance of the maritime industry in India and the people involved in helping India’s position as a global shipping hub.
The Maritime industry in India contributes to 70% of India’s trading in value and the growth of the maritime sector is going to be instrumental in the future economic growth of India.
National Maritime Day 2022 will be celebrated with similar events and further announcements about the Maritime India Vision 2030 and the Sagarmala Programme.