Crossing fingers for a ministry for logistics
With the start of a new innings in the Indian Republic, comes the deluge of hopes and expectations of a billion people and a thousand industries.
After the dust has settles on the Indian Elections of 2014, it will be time to look forward to a new Budget; one that will decide whether the business economy matches the ongoing bull-rush of the Stock Exchange, or tightens its belt for an ascetic spell. Of course, the numerouno demand of the cargo and the logistics sector will be the upgrade to an industry status. This has been a long-awaited plea of the cargo entrepreneurs, to have a platform to air their worries and woes; and to have a dedicated Ministry that will boost the cargo and logistics sector like nothing else. The logistics industry will then become exactly what the two words denote.
The advantages of industry status are long and extensive. One, that the industry will become more ‘organised’ and unregistered players will feel the need to get registered. This will provide a level playing field for all, and will greatly benefit the end-users as well as the clients. Secondly, it will allow for greater governmental focus on reforms and advancements in infrastructure. A ministry overlooking the cargo industry will give greater importance to the sector’s needs and requisite infrastructural demands will be streamlined to match global standards and systems. For example, the ports of India are possibly one of the most underutilised sectors in the whole country. It is a sad fact that, despite having a such a vast coastline with so much potential, the ports are languishing with archaic infrastructure and long-pending demands. Only small and medium-sized cargo vessels can enter most of the Indian ports, because the latter do not have the depth to handle cargo supercarriers. The Panamax-class vessels have been transporting the heaviest of cargoes in the most cost-efficient manner, but they usually go beyond to deepwater ports like Singapore and China. They profit, while Indian importers wait for the smaller vessels.
The reason: the supercarriers need deepwater ports because of the heavy loads and their mammoth sizes, and only three ports in India can claim to handle such vessels. India, as one of the fastest growing economies, especially in the power and steel sectors with increasing raw material requirements, has to rapidly improve to accommodate Panamax and Cape-size vessels.