National Maritime Day is celebrated on 5th April in India every year. The day is observed to commemorate the maiden voyage by an Indian Ship S S Loyalty from Mumbai to London in 1919. Actually, on 5th April 1919, Scindia Steam Navigation Company Limited had its first steamship SS Loyalty on its maiden voyage. In its memory, every year since 1964, April 5, National Maritime Day was observed.
The Theme is ‘Indian Ocean – An Ocean of Opportunity’.
What is the purpose of this day?
The purpose of celebrating this day is to make people aware of the activities of the Indian shipping industry as well as its important role in the economy of India. The day is celebrated to spread consciousness in encouraging intercontinental trade and the international economy.
A special day for the country
National Maritime Day is very special for India. Indeed, National Maritime Day 5 marks the national cooperation of the maritime economy by facilitating trade in the oceans. If you look at the data from April 2017 to February 2018, India is the 16th largest country in the world in terms of maritime trade. The country’s maritime trade takes place from about 12 major ports and it is 7517 km long when it comes to the country’s coastline. 6.17 lakh kg of cargo traffic is from the major ports of the country. India has 43 shipping companies owning 1,401 ships with a combined 12.69 million gross tonnage’ as of December 2018.
India’s maritime heritage is about five thousand years old and Lothal is mentioned as the oldest port in the country. The National Institute of Oceanography is a laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India, headquartered in Goa, while its regional offices are located in Mumbai, Kochi, and Visakhapatnam. It was established on 1 January 1966.
The highest award given to recognized persons for their sustained and outstanding contribution in the field of Maritime is called the ‘Varuna Award’. The ‘NMD Varuna Award‘ shall consist of the statue of Lord Varuna and a Citation. The award shall be given on the occasion of National Maritime Day Celebrations of the relevant year, at the ceremony conducted in Mumbai. “NMD Award of Excellence” is given to recognize and persons for their lifetime exceptional and distinguished achievements or performance at the senior functional level in the Indian Maritime Sector.
The day began with the hoisting of the flag at the institute by P P Paul, Senior Maritime Faculty, followed by a parade by maritime cadets. Various sports events and a cultural program were also organized.
On National Maritime Day we cherish India’s glorious maritime heritage and vitality of the maritime sector in India’s growth. World Maritime Day (WMD) is observed on September 29 to highlight the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment. “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet” has been selected as the World Maritime theme for 2020.
At least on this day, let’s make a collective effort to apprise our society and its policymakers, the relevance, and significance of the shipping industry, which often decides the pace, structure, and pattern of development of a fast-growing economy like India.
There is a saying which goes “without seafarers, half the world would starve while the other half would freeze.” Appreciate the seafarers and efforts of all the seafarers.