Dear Friends and Colleagues, The month of February 2019 saw a tragic and heinous suicide bomb attack in Pulwama in Kashmir, in which 40 soldiers of the Indian CRPF lost their lives. In a swift reprisal, an attack was carried out by the Indian Air Force against the concerned terror organization, based in Balakot, Pakistan. These events have led to an escalation of tension between the two nations, which everyone hopes to see reduced, along with the spectre of terrorism. Moving from a sombre note to a slightly sceptical note, the year 2019 seems to be moving in an odd way, with “trade wars" too adding to this conundrum.

Various international economic commentators have also been cautioning about the likelihood of a recession in the Western world, as well as the likely effect of Brexit and the general weakness of the European region and the negative macro-economic fundamentals of the US. Added to this are the challenges to the Chinese economy due to the trade war and its likely overleveraged economy. Against this dismal backdrop, it is heartening to note that most of the container shipping lines have reported healthy earnings and the grapevine is silent of any negative dramatic events. The only ship-owning sector that yet seems haemorrhaging is the offshore oil and gas sector, with drill rigs, offshore support vessels and other types of crafts being beaten down both in price as well as employment. On the technology front, all ship-owners are getting prepared for the 2020 sulphur emission guidelines, with various strategies of either usage of scrubbers, open loop or closed loop, usage of low sulphur fuel, gas-driven engines, or hybrid engines. The other technology-led projects of various shipping companies and ports relate to the delivery of a seamless service to customers on a “live time” basis.

India and its government have very much endeavored to strive and stride in that direction. Between the ports sector and the newly created Department of Logistics at the Ministry of Commerce, major efforts have been made in this direction. The ports sector under the leadership of the Ministry of Shipping has begun rolling out the Port Community System, which is carrying the entire community of stakeholders of our port systems together. This truly promises to be one of the most important initiatives, which will lead to successfully achieving the objective of “Ease of doing business” as well as reduction in cost and time for transactions.

Movement of coal, both coastal (domestic production) as well as imports, has seen a consistent growth on both coasts of India. With the firming up of the steel market and the upward production trend in the steel mills of India, we are seeing enhanced volumes of cargo moving, especially on the east coast of India, as well as increased volumes via coastal shipping. Imports of crude oil remain steady, as do the movements of products both for exports as well as for the domestic coastal routes. LPG volumes have seen steady growth and, in some ports, due to enhanced demands, some amount of congestion and berthing delays are a reality. LNG ships are increasing their trips and volumes as well. With the various rounds of auctions for creating gas grids in various cities, these volumes are expected to rise.

On the container side, once again both on the west and east coasts of India, there has been sustainable growth on a year-on-year basis. As regards our terminals, it is gratifying to see that in the first three months of 2019 we have seen continued growth in volumes with Kandla (KICT) handling 77,911 TEUs, Sonepat (DICT) 20,679 TEUs, Vizag (VCTPL) 103,937 TEUs, Mumbai/ JNPT (MICT) 22,582 TEUs and Haldia (HICT) 44,178 TEUs.

It is with great pleasure and pride that I share with you all the news that, once again, Arya Communication was recognized as one of Motorola’s most valuable partners and was awarded “Distributor of the year 2018”. Well done team Aryacom! With the leapfrogging of technology in our lives as well as in governance and with the increasing requirement of security for the citizenry, communications is one of the pivotal areas of importance. With our partnership with the “Global Best” Motorola, Aryacom is poised to further grow, with several new and existing projects on a pan-India basis.

Continuing from the last few issues of the Quarter deck and TIDINGS regarding the subject of the resolution of non-performing assets of the Indian banking sector a few important headlines...

At long last, the Essar steel plant at Hazira has been cleared to be taken over by ArcelorMittal. This is expected to bring in cheer and good news as reports presently suggest that this plant operates only at 40% capacity.

The next crucial resolution will be that of ABG shipyard. The liquidation process is expected to begin shortly and hopefully, after liquidation and auction the new activity should fully be seen.

Elections in India, which take place every 5 years, have been announced and, by the time you read the new Tidings and Quarterdeck, the results of the elections to the 17th Lok Sabha, will have been declared. It is indeed fascinating to observe elections in the largest democracy in the world, where almost 1 billion people exercise their right to vote and elect their government.

Till then

Krishna B. Kotak  
Chairman - J M BAXI GROUP