Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). is the foundational document for all human rights laws, including ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Any discussion on the rights of seafarers and other maritime workers must hark back to it. So how has the shipping world fared in observing its tenets?
Flogging and other harsh shipboard punishments may be a thing of the past, but it would be naive to think that it’s the best of times for seafarers. A litany of sins is still being committed against them — some blatant, others subtle. Major changes in existing laws as well as societal values are in order.
Paintings of the pilot boats of yesteryear can be a great visual delight. The grace and energy of these small sailing vessels as they brave the waves make one think of a ballet at sea. Such artworks, however, are also a reminder of the challenges and dangers faced by maritime pilots even today as they perform their duties.
Even in inland cities, the sea is never really far away. It can pop up anywhere in the shape of merchandise whose logos or brand marks have a connection to the sea. Such reminders of the maritime world are usually ignored by people, but I take notice of them. They are a form of art, and they indicate the extent to which the sea has become part of the consumer culture and social history.
When should one use the adjective “marine” and not “maritime” or “nautical”? This is a tricky question. All three words are connected with the sea and often applied interchangeably without people noticing the difference.
Men never get to experience childbirth, which is painful and can be dangerous for women. This does not make fatherhood any less challenging than motherhood. By their words and deeds and by the values they hold, fathers exert a great deal of influence on their children. When that influence is positive, fatherhood becomes a proud calling and a badge of honour.
Of the myriads of poems about merchant mariners, some stand out for a simple reason. They do more than depict the physical universe in which these men struggle for a living and sometimes for their very existence. They usher the reader into the sailor’s inner world of thoughts and feelings.
On the 11th of May, I issued an open invitation to photographers to share their best phictures on the theme The Wonder of Water. Only three people, unfortunately, responded to the call. The good news is that they all sent in excellent photos.
Art depicting mother and child is ubiquitous. Understandably so. Mothers should be praised and honoured for the many sacrifices they make for their children. Artworks with a father-and-child motif are much less common even though fathers often exert a great deal of influence on their offsprings. Indeed, the ones with the sea as backdrop are rare.
The series of unfortunate incidents on board cruise ships never seems to end. The mishaps range from breakouts of disease and drunken brawls to missing passengers and murder. The superstitious may be tempted to believe that a spirit of bad luck lurks on the decks and in the cabins to spoil a fun-filled vacation at sea.
There is nothing beautiful about war. It is savage and nasty. For some reason, however, art depicting naval battles has a strong power to attract viewers. The chaotic scenes of smoke and fire as ships and men try to destroy each other are certainly dramatic. Some may even think them beautiful.
Their whistles have long fallen silent. The smokes from their funnels are no more. Yet, the charm of steamboats that inspired such wonderful songs as Steamboat Bill and Lazy ‘Sippi Steamer lives on in old postcards.
It should not matter whether one uses “female” or “woman” as an adjective for a ship captain or some other person. Both are grammatically correct. But in this age of political correctness and fragile sensitivities, some rabid feminists may object to the use of “female”…