INDIA is one of the oldest civilisations in the world acknowledged for a rich cultural heritage and admired for the vibrant diversity. It has achieved multifaceted socio-economic progress since gaining independence in the year 1947. India is now the tenth industrialised country in the world and the sixth nation to have gone into outer space.
India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for more than half of India's output with less than one third of its labor force. India continues to capitalize on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers.
The natural advantage of a vast coastline requires India to use sea transport for the bulk of cargo transport. Following the policy of liberalization, the Indian shipping industry, major ports, as also national highways and water transport have been throw open to the private sector.
Shipping activity is buoyant and the number of ships registered under the Indian flag has reached 471. India is also among the few countries that offer fair and free competition to all shipping companies for obtaining cargo.
Shipping industry plays a significant role in the Indian economy as 95% of India’s international trade by volume and 70% by value are seaborne. The fleet strength by the end of December 2007 was 850 vessels with 9.03 million Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT), of which overseas shipping accounted for 90.11% of the total capacity in terms of Gross Tonnage. According to the Planning Commission, Indian Shipping Industry’s gross tonnage capacity will be increased up to 15 million GT (As per 3rd target) by the end of Eleventh Five Year Plan (2012) with an estimated investment of Rs. 800 billion.
- India has one of the largest merchant shipping fleet among the developing countries and is ranked 20th in the world.
- The coastline of India is punctuated with 12 major ports: Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Ennore, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Kandla, Mormugao, Mumbai, New Mangalore, Paradip, Tuticorin and Vishakhapatnam.
- It also has 181 minor/ intermediate ports out of which 139 are operable.
- India’s total cargo traffic by all ports is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.96% during 2007-08 to 2011-12, out of which non-major ports would grow at a CAGR of 12.58% and major ports would grow at a CAGR of 10.32%.