Once Winston Churchill said that a successful man could succeed in any vocation, profession or business. What successful men possess, that others, not so successful do possess; the combination of skill, uncanny ability to take risks, and most importantly an unerring eye for opportunities. Such persons are called visionaries. Walchand Hirachand was a visionary and a patriot, driven by the vision of making India a modern industrial giant. Walchand Hirachand has more first to his credit than an entire generation of entrepreneurs. He founded the first Indian Shipping Company, which we all fondly know as Scindia Steam Navigation and which had been a cradle for many a seafarers. He created a new shipyard, now known as Hindustan Shipyard at Vishakhapatam. This shipyard has the distinction of building independent Indias first ship SS JAL YAMUNA. These are the corner stones of the Indian Shipping. Other firsts in his list are Hindustan Aircraft, now known as Hindustan Aeronautics, and Premier Automobile, which rolled out Indias first automobile. By no means a mean achievement in the teeth of British opposition.
Sardar Patel complimented him by saying that his life was truly a triumph of persistence over adversities.
Dr Chandrika Prasad Srivastava a living legend of the maritime world
greatly facilitating the growth of Indian Shipping
in the years following Independence.
Dr. Srivastava also pioneered the setting up of high quality and specialised maritime training institutions like the World Maritime University at Malmo (of which he was the Chancellor), IMO International Law Institute at Malta and IMO International Maritime Academy at Trieste in Italy. As a result, many developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America have acquired world class maritime personnel and have thus become self-reliant in the maritime sector.
Srivastavas exceptionally outstanding services to the world maritime community have been acclaimed by all maritime nations of the world, both developing and developed. Many countries have conferred upon him some of their highest national awards. The Queen of Great Britain bestowed upon him a knighthood KCMG. At an official banquet organised by the British Government on this occasion, Lord Parkinson, a British Government Cabinet Minister, described Srivastava as a living legend of the maritime world. The King of Sweden, the King of Norway and the King of Spain have bestowed upon him their high national honours, equivalent to a knighthood. The Presidents of Germany, Italy, Poland, Brazil, Panama, Liberia, Egypt and many other countries and many international organisations in the maritime world have similarly acclaimed his work as well as his inspiring personal qualities. Each one has conferred its own high honour on him.
An Indian administrator and diplomat par excellence who has won the esteem and admiration of the world maritime community and who has acquired a special place in the maritime history of the twentieth century
Vasant Jagjivan Sheth - uncommon acumen
On his way to America, he learnt from a Washington lawyer that the surplus American war fleet was to be disposed of, which prompted him to go into shipping business.The ship Fort Ellice was subsequently bought and remained Jag Vijay. With the purchase of this vessel, the foundation of The Great Eastern Shipping Company was laid.In 1948, the paid-up capital of Great Eastern Shipping was Rs.20 lakh. During the first year freight and charter hire earnings were Rs.39.82 lakh and net profit Rs.3.02 lakh. Towards the end of Mr.Sheths tenure in 1991-92, the paid-up capital of the company had risen to Rs.8555 lakhs. Freight and charter hire earnings in 1991-92 amounted to Rs.33177 lakhs, a quantum jump in a span of about 50 years.
Great Eastern pioneered the overseas tramp trade (bulk cargo trade) and thereby opened avenues for shipping expansion, succeeding in putting an end to stagnation in the public sector. Mr. Sheth showed keen interest in the promotion of excellence in maritime education, training and research in India. He also endeavoured to inform the government machinery and other ship-owners, as to how freedom of operation would enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of Indian shipping. He stated at one of Great Easterns AGM: "I feel that Indian ship-owners should not seek subsidies, but they are entitled to ask for open and fair competition where Indian lines are treated as equal. Unfortunately, it is not so "
The National Maritime Celebration Committee, which includes representatives of the government, ship-owners and seafarers, conferred on Mr. Sheth posthumously the Varuna Award in 1993. The Great Eastern Shipping Co. established and managed by him and now owning a well diversified fleet consisting of oil tankers, bulk carriers, gas carriers and Off Shore vessels, became the largest shipping company in the private sector, a lasting testimony to his pioneering genius, vision and business acumen.
* one lakh is equal to 0.1 million
T.K.T. SRISAILAM – A COLOSSUS
the young age of fifteen, Mr. Srisailam commenced his merchant navy
training aboard the training ship “Dufferin”. He topped his class,
ranking either first or second during the four years of training. He made
it into a select group for special recruitment into the Royal Indian Navy,
bypassing the regular competitive examinations. It was an odd set of
circumstances that prevented him from undertaking the special selection
examinations and instead, launched him into the marine engineering
profession. He was knocked out in a boxing match and that prevented him
from successfully completing the oral and written component of the
selection examination. Thereafter, he elected to do his marine engineering
apprenticeship and joined the Mazagaon Dock. During that time, he worked
on some challenging and educative projects.
His apprenticeship ended in 1940.
Srisailam decided to get married before embarking on his sea-going career.
It was a turbulent time politically. India was faced with the freedom
struggle and the prospect of joining the war effort. His father and
brother, who had offered Satyagraha, were arrested and sentenced to long
terms in prison. It was a tense situation.
Srisailam applied for employment as Junior Engineer with the Scindia Steam
Navigation Company and joined their ship “S.S. Jaladurga”. His own
account of joining that ship is extraordinary. He was ordered by the
Company to join the vessel in Vishakapatnam. But the ship had already
sailed to Gopalpur. On reaching Gopalpur, he found that the ship was
anchored about four miles from the beach. The only mode of transport to
reach the ship was a fishing boat. The fishermen rowed him out to the
vessel. The sea was choppy and there was no ladder to board the ship. So,
a couple of seamen yanked him onto to the ship deck. Thus he boarded his
first ship! Mr. Srisailam served in different capacities on cargo ships,
owned primarily by Scindia Steam Navigation Company and British India
Steamship Company, which undertook voyages to the Mediterranean, East
African and South-East Asian ports.
1948, Mr. Srisailam started his teaching career as a Second Engineer
Officer of the “T. S. Dufferin” without any formal preparation or
training as a teacher! He had to lecture on all topics required for
completing the training of the last three batches of engineering cadets.
He was also responsible for examining and evaluating those trainees. He
would write later: “I had to acquire the necessary knowledge and the
capability to undertake this task as I went along.... The reason I managed
to do the job is due to the wonderful batches of cadets I had to deal
Srisailam obtained his Extra First Class certificate from the U.K. in
1951-52. Upon the inception of the Directorate of Marine Engineering
Training (D.M.E.T.), he was appointed its Deputy Director in Bombay in
1953. There, he had to organize and conduct classes for sea-going
engineers preparing for their certificates of competency in addition to
covering the curriculum for the cadets. He simultaneously worked in the
capacity of Vice Principal, Nautical and Engineering College, Bombay
(presently L.B.S. College of Advanced Maritime Studies & Research),
teaching post sea engineer officers for various M.O.T. courses.
1958, Mr. Srisailam was appointed Director of the D.M.E.T. - the first
Indian marine engineer to take charge of the prestigious post - and had a
unique tenure of fifteen years in that position. But, his most cherished
and rewarding experience was his interaction with his students. He
attributed his success as a teacher to the mutual understanding and
co-operation that he received from them. He would write: “While the
teacher tries to teach the student, the student is helping the teacher to
learn to teach. Propagation of knowledge depends on such a process. The
first time I stood in front of the cadets in a class, I had no cue as to
how I should begin my lecture, or what I should say. The help always came
from the students themselves. They gave me the lead as to how I should
recalled later in a message to the D.M.E.T ex-cadets association, Chennai,
on the occasion of the D.M.E.T Golden Jubilee celebrations, “The
teaching and training staff who came together at that time were people
dedicated to the task and did their job very well. The ultimate credit for
the professional achievements and success in the life of the cadets
belongs to the cadets themselves. The ultimate pleasure I got in life is
to see the achievements of my students.”
early 1974, Mr. Srisailam was selected by the International Maritime
Organization (I.M.O.) to participate in a U.N.D.P. project tasked with the
establishment of the Arab Maritime Transport Academy (A.M.T.A., or the
“Academy”) in Alexandria, Egypt. His initial designation was Chief of
Marine Engineering Studies. He was later elevated to Chief Technical
Advisor. Mr. Srisailam’s assignment lasted nine years. While in Egypt,
his efforts and leadership led to the establishment of the Egyptian Branch
of the Institute of Marine Engineers, London. The late Mr. J. Stuart
Robinson, Secretary of the Institute in London, and many other dignitaries
were present for the inaugural function. At the conclusion of the opening
speeches, a standing ovation followed mention of Mr. Srisailam as the
architect of the whole event. In a message to the Academy, Mr. Srisailam
wrote, “Who would not do anything in his power to help those that had
this depth of feeling towards oneself.”
Srisailam retired from active service in 1983 and settled in Bangalore. He
split his time between his home in India and visits to his sons in the
United States (US) and Australia. After leading a relatively active
retirement, Mr. Srisailam was diagnosed with renal failure in 2000 and
placed on a dialysis regimen in the US. He bore that setback with
equanimity and maintained a positive outlook till his last days.
Mr. Srisailam passed away in the US on July 31, 2002 after a three-week hospitalization for pneumonia. His compassion for the younger generation, concern for the future of the marine engineering fraternity, and above all his humane values are well known. The concept of planning and organizing marine engineering training in India was foremost in his heart throughout his career. Much of our present infrastructure is a testament to his forethought and vision.