The 5th of April is observed as ‘The National Maritime Day’ in India every year since the year 1964 which marked the advent of this day’s observance. World Maritime Day, on the other hand, is celebrated on September 29th . This day is celebrated to spread awareness regarding safe and environmentally sound commerce between the various continents across the globe. It was 101 years ago, in the year 1919, 5th of April, that the maiden voyage of the first Indian owned ship- “SS Loyalty” which is the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd, sailed from Bombay (Mumbai) to London. It was a very crucial step for India’s shipping history when the sea routes were under British control. That day marked a red-letter day in Maritime History of India, a country that is known for its seafaring abilities since the ancient days.
When we turn the chapters of history, even during the period of Indus Valley Civilization, India had astonishing skills regarding the sea trade and maritime actions. The Indian subcontinent is purposefully quite essential owing to the geographical spot of seas around it. Since then, the Indian
the shipping industry has shown commendable advancements.
This year’s National Maritime Day falls amidst the nationwide lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The contribution of our Merchant Mariners is just indelible and we should acknowledge their contribution not only on this particular day but throughout the year and should pay tributes to the heroes by saluting the “Red Ensign” that flutters on the masts of our merchant ships. India undoubtedly has always been the maritime nation and all thanks to the envious maritime geography. But due to its continental mindset, India is sea- blind, as stated by statesman diplomat Sardar K.M.Pannicker, and this holds true even today. Even after so many years, there is a lack of maritime awareness and consciousness among most of us. But the dreadful 26/11 Mumbai attack, the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the Chinese surge into the Indian Ocean Region has brought them in the limelight.
Well now let’s have a look at some of the interesting facts relating to National Maritime Day-
● The ‘Varuna Award’ is the highest award in the Indian Maritime Sector which is presented to recognize and honour persons for their contribution to the Indian Maritime Sector.
● The ‘NMD Varuna Award’ consists of the statue of Lord Varuna and citation.
● The National Maritime Day Celebrations Committee has also instituted an “NMD Award of Excellence” which will be presented to the respective person to recognize their lifetime exceptional and distinguished achievements at the senior functional levels in the Indian Maritime Sector.
● This year is the 57th National Maritime Day.
● Almost 90% of the nation’s international trade is conducted by the sea.
● Jal Usha was first India’s ship to be constructed fully in India and was built in 1948.
On this day let us all remember the heroes in white who sail across the high tides in the sea and stand strong. Let us acknowledge their achievements and relentless efforts. Here’s raising a toast (of salty water maybe!!) to the brave sea warriors.
“Hail the heroes.”