On 12 February 2020, ISWAN’s Director of Regions, Chirag Bahri, addressed around 300 cadets at the Indian Maritime University Mumbai campus on the topic of seafarers’ wellbeing.
Chirag was invited by the Director of the campus to sensitise young, budding seafarers undergoing pre-sea training on how to look after their wellbeing at sea and what challenges they may face.
Chirag explained to the cadets that it is important to be well prepared for maritime piracy incidents. While there is very low probability that a seafarer will ever be affected by such an incident, the majority of seafarers are fearful when transiting through high-risk areas. He advised the cadets to make sure they understand how to harden their ship’s defences, to ensure proper lookouts and to follow company procedures.
Giving a few examples of how seafarers had prevented attacks, Chirag also pointed out that the citadel is only useful if all crew members are able to gather inside. He encouraged the cadets to learn coping skills in case they ever faced such a crisis, and to always cooperate with pirates. Chirag also advised the cadets to ensure that their family members have all the details of their company and unions before the cadets join their vessel, which would help their loved ones to contact the appropriate stakeholders in case the seafarers could not.
Chirag emphasised that all seafarers must join ships through registered manning agents only. He gave examples of the detrimental impact on families when seafarers had been duped by unregistered agents – the seafarers could not send their children to schools or provide basic amenities to their dependants. He explained that if seafarers join ships through unregistered agents, their sea time would not be counted by the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS).
Wellbeing at sea
The cadets heard how they could look after their mental and physical wellbeing at sea. While there are various challenges at sea, Chirag pointed out that few people in the world have the privilege to go on a ship and be paid for it. He said the cadets should be proud of their career at sea and should try to work as a team on board. When working with different nationalities, Chirag emphasised that they must respect each other and suggested that they try to bond over common ground like family and life back home.
Chirag shared examples of how seafarers can balance their working life at sea and gave each cadet a copy of ISWAN’s Good Mental Health Guides. He also stressed that they must use technology such as the internet wisely.
After his presentation, Chirag answered queries from the cadets and shared his own experiences of working at sea. One cadet sent a message to Chirag afterwards: ‘Good evening Sir, your recent live seminar in LBS college (IMU Mumbai) was very enlightening. Thanks for conducting such live seminar and hope to see you soon in future.’
While in Mumbai, Chirag also attended ISF Group’s International Maritime Research Confluence. ISWAN was congratulated on its work by Pawan Kapoor, Managing Director of ISF Group, during the event, which hosted eminent personalities from the DGS, the Indian Ports Association, ship management companies, maritime unions and various certification bodies.