Saga of SCINDIA, Struggle for the Revival of Indian Shipping and Shipbuilding By N. G. Jog

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As A NATIONAL shipping company Scindias’s policy from the very beginning was to help other Indian shipping companies and to work in co-operation with them wherever possible. It was also their constant endeavour to foster the growth of smaller ports which the foreign steamers never vesited. The coast of Kathiawar, for instance,is dotted with small ports. Their development was deliberately neglected in British times. Cargo was, as a rule, transhipped there
in smaller vessels after being first landed in Bombay or Karachi.This was beneficial to foreign shippers though it entailed additional expenditure for Indian shippers. It was noted earlier how a Scindia ship carried sugar from Java to Porbandar direct and presented a windfall to the Maharana.In 1925 Scindias did a similar service to the Maharaja of Baroda. Keen on the progress of his State in all spheres, Maharaja Sayajirao constructed a pier at Port Okha at a cost of Rs. 40 lakhs. It was 400 feet long and 30 feet deep and, it could berth two ships simultaneously. Foreign shipping companies were reluctant to patronise this new port and some of them even spread unfavourable reports about its alleged shortcomings. Scindias, however, promptly responded to the invitation of the State authorities and their s.s. “Jalajyoti” berthed at the new port on the very day Maharaja Sayajirao performed ias opening ceremony (February 14, 1926). How well Port Okha served the hinterland is evident from the following figures. Imports there multiplied almost five times in as many years while exports rose spectacularly from 2,000 tons in 1926-27 to 711,168 tons in 1931-32.Ever conscious of their responsibility to cater to the needs and
requirements of small ports and shippers, Scindias were conscious
of their duty to uphold our national prestige and honour abroad.A case in point was India’s representation in
conferences. India nominally enjoyed separate representation at international conferences since the Treaty of Versailles, but the power of nomination continued to rest in the hands of the British Government. It was not unusual for the “Indian” representative not to be an Indian at all! The honour frequently went to retired British civilians or representatives of British interests in India.Whenever he was an Indian, he invariably belonged to the Princely
order or the titled gentry or to that clåss of sycophants who were in the pockets of the Government. The natural consequence of this was that the Indian point of view as also Indian interests went by the board in international gatherings. An exception to this was the
International Labour Conference where Indian workers were asually represented by their own nationals lest it provoked protest from other countries. The representative of employers, however, generally was a non-Indian since British industry was then strongly entrenched
in India. The Indian Chambers of Commerce and trade associations
frequently protested against this practice and urged not only that their spokesmen should be nationals but that they should also be chosen by the Indian industrial and commercial bodies.

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