National Maritime Day: India’s Growth in the Maritime Domain
The Indian Navy Day is celebrated on December 4; the World Maritime Day is observed on the last week of September on Thursday annually and in India the National Maritime Day is celebrated on April 5. Each year there are different themes for the civilian shipping sector.
Every year on April 5, the National Maritime Day is celebrated, in an effort to create awareness in supporting safe and environmentally sound intercontinental commerce and the global economy. This day focuses on defending and preserving the maritime zone of the country.
When did it all start?
Boats laden with the Indian spices, incense and textiles sailed towards the Western world and for the purpose of navigation, the maps, charts were based on the Pole star and Constellation. To provide protection to the trading ships, the Indian rulers had also started organizing the navy for this purpose. These navy boats were accompanying the trade vessels on their journeys. However, according to history, it was very late in the Middle Ages that the need to maintain a navy was felt urgently, when the European vessels started entering India from Portugal and the Netherlands.
After the British Raj the Indian shipbuilders had continued to build for the Royal Navy which included ships like the HMS Hindostan, HMS Ceylon, HMS Asia, HMS Cornwallis, and HMS Minden. Based on the information available in the public domain, between 1736 and 1821, around 159 ships of over 100 tons, including 15 ships of over 1,000 tons were produced by the Bombay Dockyard.
The first time the National Maritime Day was celebrated was on April 5, 1964. The history of India’s shipping actually started on April 5, 1919, it was for the first time that the SS Loyalty, which was the first ship of The Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd which was the biggest first large scale shipping company owned totally by the local Indian businessmen had travelled from Bombay (Now Mumbai) to the United Kingdom (London).
The National Maritime Day and for creating more awareness the National Maritime Day Celebrations (Central) Committee has instituted the highest award to recognize and honour persons for their sustained and outstanding contribution to the Maritime Domain. The Varuna award ceremony is conducted in Mumbai and any person who fulfils the criteria receives a statue of Lord Varuna.
The Ministry of Shipping regulates India’s maritime transport and shipping and policies and programmes. Also it has jurisdiction over national waterways, inland water transport, ports, and shipyards. As of December 2018, the Directorate General of Shipping has stated that there are 43 shipping companies who own 1,401 ships with a combined 12.69 million gross tonnage.
The National Maritime Day is different from the World Maritime Day. This day is celebrated in the last week of September globally. In 1959, India became an associate of International Maritime Organisation which is for maritime protection and to prevent pollution from ships. The World Maritime Theme for 2021 is devoted to seafarers, highlighting their central role which is very important for the way forward for the shipping sector.