The Indian Maritime University (IMU) is a Central University, that was established by an Act of the Indian Parliament namely the Indian Maritime University Act 2008, on 14 November 2008. It is the only university in the country imparting education in the maritime field. It has an All-India jurisdiction and the headquarters is at Chennai. It has campuses at Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Cochin and Kandla Port.
India has had a long maritime tradition and is the 20th largest maritime country in the world. The single largest contributing factor to this glorious tradition is the presence of a strong, dedicated, efficient and reliable reservoir of officers and ratings of the Merchant Navy in India. The ever- increasing demand of Indian seafarers worldwide is a testament of the quality of education and training received in India. However, of late, India has been facing a stiff challenge to her position in this regard from countries like Philippines, China and Bangladesh. Hence there is a need to further upgrade our training capacity and capabilities so that India stays ahead of the other nations in this sector and is able to meet the projected global shortage of 27,000 officers by the year 2015. There is also a need to augment the share of India in the world maritime manpower fleet from the present level of around 6% to at least 20%. Further, the 29% share of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries is dwindling rapidly due to lack of interest of their youth in this career and this presents an opportunity that we should exploit to our advantage.
For further strengthening the institutional framework for imparting maritime training in India the Government decided to establish a Society namely Indian Institute of Maritime Studies (IIMS) on 6th June, 2002 placing four Government-run- maritime institutions within the domain of this Society. The Government also set up the National Institute of Port Management now renamed as National Maritime Academy, Chennai and Indian Institute of Port Management, Kolkata as registered Societies for capacity building of personnel of port and shipping industry.
In order to encourage private sector participation in maritime training, the Government of India announced liberalized guidelines in 1997 and as a result around 125 training institutes came up in the government and private sector, which impart both Pre Sea and post sea training. The Directorate General of Shipping, Mumbai, accorded recognition to the private institutes. The Committee on Maritime Education and Training set up by the Government in 1991, had recommended the establishment of an autonomous body under an Act of Parliament, to be designated as the Indian Maritime University (IMU) to manage, control, supervise, direct and monitor the maritime training institutions, currently running under Government control. An Expert Committee was constituted by this Ministry, which inter-alia included representatives of the University Grants Commission, to look into the feasibility of the formation of an Indian Maritime University by an Act of Parliament under the aegis of this Ministry, which also strongly recommended the formation of such a University. The Expenditure Reforms Commission in its 9th Report had also recommended that the IIMS should be given the status of a deemed University or of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and should become totally autonomous. Formation of the IMU will facilitate and promote maritime studies, research and extension work with focus on emerging areas of studies including marine science & technology, marine environment, socio-economic, legal and other related fields, and also to achieve excellence in these and connected fields. It will promote advanced knowledge by providing institutional and research facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit, make provisions for integrated courses in science and other key areas of marine technology and allied disciplines. As we have a sizeable number of private institutions imparting maritime education and training, the University will standardize the quality of such education and training through affiliation and academic supervision.
The Government had introduced the Indian Maritime University Bill, 2007 on 13th March, 2007 in Lok Sabha. The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture on 19th March 2007 for examination and report. The Committee examined the Bill and presented its 132nd Report on IMU Bill, 2007 on 17th April 2008. The Government considered the Report of the Hon'ble Committee and has accepted 24 of their recommendations. One of the recommendations of the Committee is that there must be one Maritime University each in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kochi. The Government was of the view that, to begin with, establishment of several Universities at the same time would create difficulties. It would require far greater skilled, human and financial resources than are available and would carry the danger of dilution of inputs. It would also deny the investment of learning and experience gained from setting up the first University into the subsequent ones.
The impact of technological developments is very much visible in the maritime industry in the recent years. Foreign trade contributes about 20 per cent of India's gross domestic product (GDP) but as a share of world trade, it currently hovers at just under one per cent. The government plans to double this figure in the next five years. Considering that 95 per cent of this trade is seaborne, one can imagine the degree of dependence on the seas that the future will bring. Thus, the shipping industry is effectively the facilitator for this global economy and shipping will continue to have an impact on the lives of more and more people. Ships designed to carry liquid crude or bulk material such as ores and minerals have also been growing in their size. Ports which provide the interface between the sea and the land, are in a race with shipping to build their facilities ahead to receive the new ships when they arrive. To meet the growing challenges there is an imperative need to have qualified and trained manpower, the requirement of which has been more keenly felt now than ever before. In October 1991, the Government of India appointed a Committee on Maritime Education and Training COMET; under the Chairmanship of Dr.C.P.Srivatsava-Ex-Secretary General of IMO to study the status of marine training institutions and give recommendations. The Committee made the recommendation for formation of Indian Maritime University. Efforts were taken by the Department of Shipping, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to make the recommendations a reality.
The University was to be a teaching and affiliating University. The University will play a vital role in developing and offering wide range of education courses leading to the award of degree postgraduate degree and Ph.D in various disciplines of the maritime industry besides the present. Training courses to be offered to the port and merchant navy personnel and infuse quality in standards in the curriculum and syllabus of the existing courses. It will address the present shortage of trained faculty in various disciplines and develop courses exclusively towards this Further; the courses offered would be of both in campus and also through distance learning. The University will give adequate focus on applied research which is virtually non-existent at present in the maritime sector in the country. The University would enter into possible collaborations with leading maritime universities/institutions in the world and also with premier National academic and research institutions such as IlTs, IlMs etc.