PADI Goes To India
PADI inspects India's Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports (IISDA), to possibly be India's first PADI dive center.Going to the Padi web site you find a very nice overview of diving in India. Part of the information states that "India is a large country and with 8000 kilometres/5000 miles of coastline you'd expect scuba diving opportunities to abound. But, India also encompasses a variety of islands, both in the Andaman and Arabian Seas, that offer incredible underwater diversity and liveaboard possibilities. Goa, the smallest and richest state on India's west coast, has easy access to the Arabian Sea. Diving off Goa includes gliding over lush coral gardens, pinnacles, and a variety of shipwrecks. Lakshadweep is a remote archipelago off India's southwestern coast just above the Maldives and offers colorful reefs, overhangs, swim-throughs and big fish action. The remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, between India and Thailand, boast vibrant coral reefs, huge schools of fish and pristine conditions.". However, if you follow the link from that page to locate a PADI dive center, the only item that comes up is a dive center in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which technically are a colony.
The Times of India reported that Andy Auer, PADI's Asia Pacific regional manager had visited the IISDA centre that has been developed by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). "The experts inspected the centre and judged it on certain parameters such as its pool, infrastructure and facilities and granted in-principal approval for it to be a PADI-approved scuba diving institute and resort. " An MTDC official told TOI that experts from PADI found the state's scuba diving training centre of international standard with the necessary infrastructure. "They felt that the centre will play an important role in attracting more tourists to this region and will therefore increase the number of tourists who visit Sindhudurg," the official said.
National Institute of Watersports (India) was formed in 1990 by the Ministry of Tourism with a mandate to govern and regulate water sport activities in the country, it also sets the standards and conducts training in watersports including scuba diving.In 2004, it moved under the Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports. It has trained over 13,000 students in 670 classes, sadly only one class and eight students were for scuba diving. Wanting to develop the countries diving industry both loclly and internationally the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation developed a watersport training facility with special attention for scuba diving certification. The second problem is that India does not have a federation member of CMAS which is the international accreditation agency. That means any certification that they produce would not have an international acceptance. PADI is divided into regions and is approved to offer accreditation by member federations of CMAS.
Marine biologist and scuba diving instructor Sarang Kulkarni, who has spent 10 years in the Andaman Islands and has a rich diving experience, is consultant to IISDA. "Scuba diving is considered an elite sport restricted to the upper section of the society. However, IISDA will open the amazing marine world to common people. Anyone with basic swimming skills can come here and take lessons."
Kulkarni was quoted.