Extra Master’s Programme - Inauguration of the 4th offering of Part B by CMMI

01st July 2022, 1030 am. …. Twelve Master Mariners eagerly log in on the Virtual platform for the inauguration of Part B of the Extra Masters‘ programme being offered by the Company of Master Mariners of India (CMMI). Along with them are the CMMI Officebearers, some of the programme Faculty, and the Chief Guest Capt. Ashok Mahapatra (ex IMO Head of Maritime Safety Division). It is a moment of reckoning for the twelve candidates who have taken the plunge into the world of higher education in the maritime field, like the select few before them.

The newly revised Extra Master’s programme was brought out by DG Shipping in early 2019. This is the 3rd ‘cycle’ of Part B being offered by CMMI, informs Capt. B.K. Jha (the present Master of the CMMI) in his opening address. Capt. Jha also happens to be one of the architects of the revised programme which has had a complete make-over from the earlier version.

As we all know, the Extra Master qualification was not available in India, and our Industry stalwarts – Capt PS Barve, Capt. SSS Rewari, Capt. TK Joseph, among others - had to go to UK to study and acquire the coveted Certificate. In the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (even though this slogan was not coined then), they embarked upon creating the necessary infrastructure so that the programme could be offered in India and the Extra Master’s Certificate could be granted by the DG Shipping.

From its inception in 1984, till around 2008, some 64 Master Mariners had successfully obtained the Extra Master’s certificate. Thereafter the programme got stalled due to a lack of sufficient enrolments. Which may be just as well, as it gave the Administration the opportunity to re-think the contents and make the programme more contemporary. Since its revival in 2019 with a brand new syllabus, which was driven by the Nautical Advisor (I/C) Capt. KP Jayakumar, there has been a renewed interest in the Programme, with over 150 Master Mariners having enrolled across the Parts A, B and C with CMMI and Synergistics Solutions Ltd – the two organizations that are currently offering the Programme.

Capt Jha then invited the Part B candidates to introduce themselves and express their motivation for enrolling in the Programme. It was encouraging to note that a good number of candidates were actually sailing Masters and Ch. Officers, some of them attending the inauguration directly from the Vessel itself! Their motivation to enrol (and eventually obtain the EM Certificate) was, quite uniformly, the desire to further their careers and at the same time quench their thirst for knowledge within and beyond the boundaries of the maritime sphere.

Some of the Extra Master’s Programme Faculty present at the occasion, which included Capt S.S. Chaudhari, Mr. Ravi Budhiraja, Capt Suneel Sule, and Capt Y. Sharma, then took the opportunity to interact with the new candidates. They lauded the candidates for taking the leap of faith and joining the programme. Without mincing any words, they cautioned the candidates that higher education, especially at the executive level, was a different ball game, quite unlike any of the Courses they would have attended thus far in acquiring professional qualifications. That the formal classes were just an introduction to the subject matter, and the real work lay in engaging oneself in serious self-study to get in-depth knowledge of the subject. The broad-based syllabus of the Programme required a research mindset which the Faculty would endeavour to facilitate with appropriate guidance and direction.

On being invited to address the audience, the Chief Guest Capt Ashok Mahapatra recounted his own journey to the Extra Master’s certification, and the role played by the revered teachers at the LBS College. Drawing upon his vast experience in the area of higher education, he opined that the relationship between the Faculty and the candidates was more in the mould of Mentor-Mentee, rather than Teachers-Student. He emphasised that knowledge gained is never lost or wasted, and gave examples of some aspects of knowledge that he had acquired in the process of his EM studies that came in handy years later when he was shouldering higher responsibilities at IMO. He exhorted the candidates to adopt a learning attitude and absorb as much knowledge as the Programme offered, and not just be focused on obtaining the EM certification.

The Guest-of-honour Capt. KP Jayakumar (Nautical Advisor I/C), who had joined the proceedings, then came online and shared his thoughts with the audience about the concept of the revised Extra Master’s Programme, and the intentions behind introducing the new subjects. He said that the Programme development committee had decided to keep the programme format the same as before (three Parts and the Dissertation), but make the programme relevant to the current scenario, with a distinct focus on thought leadership. He elaborated on the contents of each of Parts A, B & C, explaining as he went along the value that each of the main topics would bring to the overall learnings from the programme. In a significant departure from the norm, he pointed out that the syllabus was kept largely descriptive rather than prescriptive, with the expectation that candidates would explore the topics on their own and extract relevant and valuable insights. He expressed his happiness at the good response the revised Extra Masters’ programme was generating and hoped that the candidates enrolled for the programme would go through with it to its logical conclusion and reap the benefits both professionally and personally.

The inaugural session ended with a passionate vote of thanks rendered by the CMMI General Secretary Capt. MP Bhasin, who once again wished the candidates all success in their endeavours.

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