Indian Shipping

Cautious as Mr. Patel has been in all his utterances abroad where he went to study the functioning of various legislatures, he let himself go on the occasion of the launching of the new steamer, "Jalabala," of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company. After dwelling at length feelingly on the fact that one time India possessed first rate vessels, built, owned, manned and managed by Indians, he entered into an indictment of the tardy policy pursued by Government towards the Indian Mercantile marine, which has lod a disastrous effect on it. Mr. Patel observed : - "Whilst the Governments of almost all maritime countries have helped and are helping their nationals to build up their own mercantile marine, are not Indians entitled to expect their Government to help them in this great industry? No wonder, then, that there is a keen feeling of disappointment when they find even the most modest recommendations made by the Mercantile Marine Committee, appointed by the Government of India themselves, to keep open the coasting trade of India only to vessels owned and managed by the Indians, just as the coasting trade of most of the maritime countries is reserved to their own nationals, have not yet been carried out. I shall say nothing here of the large overseas trade of India, in which Indian shipping participated. The annual freight bill of the India Office comes to thirty five or forty million pounds, a very substantial portion of which is claimed by non Indian shipping companies. It is, therefore, a most legitimate and natural desire on the part of Indians to retain as much as possible of this great freight bill in their own country and thus help to lesson, to however small an extent, the poverty of their economic life." Mr. Patel paid a well-merited tribute to the grip and capacity of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company which is the only organisation of this kind that has managed to survive the keen competition of foreign vested interestes.