An in-depth exploration

Published: Oct 05, 2019, 07:00 IST | Dalreen Ramos

The first-ever international dive expo comes to Mumbai with discussions with diving professionals, and workshops, too

Hassan during his Guinness World Record attempt in Egypt
Hassan during his Guinness World Record attempt in Egypt

In the early '90s, during a visit to Mauritius, Prahlad Kakar — accidentally — took a dive into the sea. It was cold and he was terrified. As he inched closer to the reefs, he found a Quran. As cinematic as it sounds, the experience shaped his life in a way he could never imagine. Regarded as one of India's leading ad filmmakers, Kakar founded Lacadives — a scuba diving company — in 1995, named after one of the sub-groups of the Lakshwadeep Islands. And yesterday, at India's first-ever international dive expo, Adex India — Mumbai Dive Show, Kakar delivered the opening keynote. The event, which continues till tomorrow, features panels and talks by industry experts that addresses not just what the acitivity entails, but also the requirements and challenges on a global scale.

Prahlad Kakar

"We've seen tremendous growth, having certified over 10,000 Indian divers ourselves. Lakshwadeep is now on the international map and India, in general, is recognised as one of the last unknown diving spots," Kakar states. The expo, he says, serves as a platform to make people aware of possibilities in the field, considering it's been a lone battle so far. It comprises discussions on sustainable diving, marine life behaviour and offbeat adventures, in addition to seeing various exhibitors and a try-dive session where attendees get to step in an inflatable pool with the gear.

Rom Scammell. Pics/Sameer Markande

Rob Scammell, the course director of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), who will be speaking about sustainability this afternoon, concurs with Kakar on India being an exciting destination. "I've been working in and out of India for 10 years and it is amazing to see that 90 per cent of diving here is supported by the domestic market. About eight to 10 years ago in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, non-Indians dominated the industry. So, you're also seeing it as a sustainable career option unlike in Indonesia where people come to work for a few months and leave," he explains.

The expo features discussions, products and test drives

Another aspect that the expo will touch upon is diving with disabilities, with Guinness World Record holder Faisal Jawad Hassan as a speaker. The Kuwaiti who set the record for the fastest time to cover 10km using scuba says, "I feel like I'm a normal person without the disability now; I beat an able-bodied person to set the record. It's the most beautiful thing to talk about with my family. But even with the growing attention towards people with disabilities, there is a need to provide a suitable environment for them to thrive."
While Scammell mentions the diversity of marine life in the Indian Ocean and its many mysteries — in 2018, a century-old shipwreck was discovered on Andhra Pradesh's Bheemunipatnam coast — the challenge, for Kakar, is having proper regulations in place for safety standards. He states, "The Philippines, for instance, has set up a department in their government that comprises of servants who are all divers.

Faisal Jawad Hassan

The diving that the Indian Navy does is not the same as destination diving. We need a self-regulated federation with the support of the Navy and the Union Government."

TILL October 6, 10 am to 7 pm
AT Bombay Exhibition Centre, NESCO, Goregaon East

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