House flag, Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd

The house flag of Scindia Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Bombay, India. A rectangular blue flag with a white disc in the centre bearing a red swastika which is an ancient Hindu emblem of luck. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached.

The first Scindia ship, 'Loyalty', sailed from India to England via France in April 1919, marking the emergence of a new Indian shipping industry. Since the 19th century British shipping interests had combined with political inertia to drive the previously healthy industry into the ground. Scindia's founders, Narottam Morarjee and Walchand Hirachand, formed the new company to take on the entrenched British interests and create India's own mercantile fleet. The new company started with passenger services but quickly concentrated on cargo to avoid competition with P&O.

In 1923 the company signed a ten-year agreement with Lord Inchcape of P&O and British India, which restricted Scindia to coastal trade only, but still allowed the company to expand steadily. The reservation of Coastal Shipping for Indian Nationals, though pressed for since 1928, only came to pass in 1951 when Scindia became part of the Indian Coastal Conference. The intervening years had been beset by harsh competition with the larger British shipping concerns. Passenger services were started with subsidiary companies, for the Burma trade and the Haj trade to Saudi Arabia. Scindia created the first shipbuilding yard in India in 1941 in Visakhapatnam, where the 8000-ton 'Jalasuha' steamship was built in 1948. The war left a legacy of ships in poor condition, and a much smaller fleet.

Following Indian independence in 1947, Scindia, supported by the Government, entered the USA and UK passenger and cargo trades, and later traded to Australia and Singapore. Business was rationalized with many small subsidiaries being wound up. The government continued to support the company with loans for expansion plans, and in 1958 the National Shipping Board was formed, marking the progress made by the Indian shipping industry. In the 1960s cargo services went to Germany, the Pacific coasts, Poland and Canada, with increasingly large ships. Following the global slump in the 1980s Scindia ceased trading.

Object Details

ID: AAA0357
Collection: Textiles; Flags
Type: House flag
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Date made: circa 1951
People: Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd; Pope, Charles Meredyth
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Pope Collection. We regret that Museum enquiries have not been able to identify the copyright owner of the flag's emblem and would welcome any information that would help us update our records. Please contact the Picture Library.
Measurements: flag: 1168.4 x 1778 mm

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