SSI X Edges of Earth: Introducing The Legends at DiveIndia

Diving the Andaman Islands is an experience that I have found hard to put into words. Each dive outdid the last, showcasing an incredible array of marine life that left the Edges of Earth team in awe. From navigating through massive schools of fish and exploring shipwrecks to diving thriving pinnacles and floating in the clearest waters we had ever seen, India altered our view of diving in the best possible way. Yet it was the people we met that changed our perspective even more. The team at DIVEIndia showed us that anything is possible if you dream big and work hard. Get ready to be inspired by their incredible story here.

Diving at the Andaman Islands

Despite visiting during the shoulder season when conditions were said to not be at their peak, diving at the Andaman Islands was nothing short of remarkable. The DIVEIndia team repeatedly told us that this was in no way Andaman Island diving at its best, which we found utterly impossible to believe. But given this operation’s experience on these waters, we rolled with it. One thing was for certain:

The Andaman Islands are home to some of the best diving on the planet, while still with so much more to explore and discover

Diving the Andamans was matched, and arguably surpassed, by the people we met. This sport brings together an eclectic mix of individuals, each with their own wild stories and unique personalities, creating a space that is as inclusive as it is exciting. In the Andaman Islands, we experienced a welcome like no other.

Introducing DIVEIndia

Led by the charismatic Siddharth Saini, we found ourselves on way more than a dive expedition. We left India with a newfound "dive tribe," feeling like it was a rendezvous of kindred spirits coming together from our unique corners of the world. Curious about how he helped to put diving in India on the map, his initial draw to the Andamans and why he stays on this untamed archipelago, we found ourselves sitting among the DIVEIndia team at a BBQ after a week of exploring his home turf.

Siddharth’s journey into the world of diving began with a life-altering trip to the Great Barrier Reef, a gift from his father upon completing high school. That single moment ultimately redefined the rest of his life. Although he initially toyed with the idea of becoming a professional skydiver, his heart was soon rerouted, with a newfound commitment to explore the underwater world. 

Eating some of the most delicious flavored foods around this sunset BBQ, we came to learn that in 2006, Siddharth ventured to the Andaman Islands for further dive training under the guidance of Vandit Kalia (aka Vinnie), the original owner of DIVEIndia and the legend on the scene. His background as a national-level swimmer eased his transition into the world of diving, and he quickly fell in love with the sport. 

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However, it was not until years later that Siddharth had his next life-altering dive moment that planted the seed towards a professional future in the industry. In 2009, he returned to the islands and spent a month training as a Master Diver. This, coupled with a few trips diving in Thailand, complemented his academic pursuits as he finished undergraduate and graduate school, getting a degree in business administration. 

Throughout his education and budding corporate career, Siddharth was often found dreaming about life below the surface. But like it is for many of us, the corporate grind came with its perks, and Siddharth found himself subscribing to the status quo. 

In 2011, Siddharth married his wife, Neha Mordia, who had not yet seen or felt the power of diving. Her first trip to the islands and subsequent fascination with the sport marked the beginning of many diving adventures around the world for the couple. With every holiday came a new dive destination. And it was only a year later that their urge to dive was something they could not look past now that the passion was shared. 

Plunging full-time into the world of scuba

It was during a trip to the Philippines that the duo stumbled upon Mares—the 75-year-old dive gear brand that is one of the oldest and most established in the business. Staying in Manila, they bought their first set of diving gear which included a dry bag and two matching masks in different colors. They were products that they simply could not get in India, let alone the Andamans. 

That is when Siddharth decided to reach out to the famed gear provider to help establish its presence in India and kick off his career in the industry. This bold move set the stage for Siddharth and Neha to leave their corporate jobs and work in scuba diving full-time, a choice that would be the hardest yet most rewarding choice for the pair. 

"Mares took a chance on us corporate kids, working our 9-5 standard jobs, letting us bring their brand to a new country. It took us a year to understand what was possible from a selling perspective. We got an investor onboard, I quit my job to run this company full time and we brought the Mares brand to India for the first time. We decided to name our company Purple Octopus Ventures," Siddharth shared with us as the sun began to set around us. 

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Founded alongside his long-time friend, Jugal Savla, Purple Octopus has become a leading supplier of dive equipment in India, catering to dive centers across every major dive destination in the country. It has grown into a successful diving school as well, with a state-of-the-art training facility available to those looking to further their education.

They do not just offer dive training but also sponsor swim meets, organize dive safaris, and actively contribute to marine conservation and preservation work

It seemed as though the company built itself, as it was happening in the right place, at the right time, and with the right leaders on a mission to make diving in India a thing. By 2017, the very place where Siddharth got his start was now selling Mares gear through a partnership with Purple Octopus. And it was not long before DIVEIndia and Purple Octopus were partnering to establish more of a presence on the mainland as well as the islands.

Putting India on the map of top dive destinations

Slowly, they were realizing their vision for the future of diving was bigger than anything recreational and the potential was somewhat limitless given how underdeveloped the diving scene was in the country at the time. Vinnie and Siddharth worked together on the sale of DIVEIndia and by 2022, the deal was done. 

"There were so many times I was sitting across the table from Vinnie talking about the future of Purple Octopus and DIVEIndia, dreaming of the opportunity to bring these two entities together. With a lot of help from Vinnie, we leapt together. It was not easy, but it brought all things full circle," Siddharth explained. 

Recognizing India’s untapped potential in diving, Siddharth is dedicated to making this sport more accessible in a country with an extensive coastline and beautiful islands

With over 15,000 certifications completed as of 2023, DIVEIndia’s Havelock & Neil locations have been working tirelessly and efficiently. Their goal is to place India as a globally recognized, must-see destination, making DIVEIndia and Purple Octopus synonymous with world-class diving.

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Looking beyond the Andaman Islands

To do this, DIVEIndia is undergoing a significant expansion beyond the Andaman Islands, with plans to establish a presence in various locations across India. They currently operate in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai and aim to further increase their reach. This expansion is part of a broader strategy to innovate their business approach and diving practices. 

They are introducing technical diving courses in the Andamans, thus broadening the scope of the Indian diving market with substantial support from companies like SSI and Mares. This move puts them at the forefront of advanced diving levels in India. They aim to introduce Trimix and charter boats in the Andamans, services that are not yet available but are part of their ambitious plans. 

Yet, with expansion discussions, this team understands that conservation needs to be at the forefront of their work

Within the next year, they plan to establish the DIVEIndia Conservation Division. This initiative will focus on educating both divers and locals to preserve the islands’ ecosystems. Aligned with the SSI Blue Oceans program, they intend to organize cleanups and events to maintain dive sites, collaborating with other dive centers for community-driven environmental initiatives.

The Island Adventurer Program

With the help of Diksha Dikshit, the DIVEIndia Marine Biologist, Divemaster and Naturalist, this new vision is becoming a reality. Today in the Andamans, they run an education effort called the "Island Adventurer Program." 

The Island Adventurer Program educates people on island ecology, organizes knowledge walks for students, schedules beach and reef clean-ups, and supports the local government

"We are researching how waste enters our island, pinpointing its origins and the types of waste affecting our dive sites and beaches. Over the past three years, the climate has shifted dramatically, with cyclone seasons changing from December to March, disrupting what should be a calm period. This has put immense stress on our underwater ecosystems, especially now, as we brace for an El Niño year in 2024, which is already showing signs of reef stress," Diksha shared with us. 

Help protect our oceans – Be a part of SSI Blue Oceans

"Our approach to conservation involves more than just pointing out right from wrong. Many locals, despite living near the ocean, know little about it, often fearing what they do not understand. Through our programming, we use diving as a tool to demystify the ocean, showing people the changes happening right before their eyes. The ocean serves as a living laboratory, revealing the first signs of environmental shifts directly to us," she further explained. 

The Island Adventurer Program takes avid international divers visiting the Andamans and locals on a journey from land to sea, illustrating the impact of human activities. Through a combination of theory sessions and practical dives across various ecosystems, participants gain a foundational understanding of ecosystem dynamics. 

Complemented by terrestrial walks, the DIVEIndia team aims to broaden divers knowledge, emphasizing the interconnectedness of land and sea

DIVEIndia has provided equipment and spares to the Forest Department, assisting local rangers in their terrestrial and ocean-based work. This includes the use of reef tags for the department, enhancing their ability to conserve the islands’ pristine coral reefs, in addition to waste removal and clean up.

On many islands, the waste removal process is a challenging one, as it needs to make its way back to the mainland to be processed. And the case is no different in the Andamans. Although there is not a solution for this yet, DIVEIndia’s Conservation Arm will be considering it a top priority. 

So, what do you want to do with your life? 

Siddharth reminisced back to 2011 when Neha asked him the game-changing question, "What do you want to do with your life?" He responded that he wanted to dive the waters and live on these islands. And now, years later, they are doing exactly that. 

This story is a powerful example of how a single choice, or in Siddarth’s case, a single dive, can shape our future

Today, Siddharth and his team are not only living their dream but also transforming India’s diving scene. Their expansion, focus on conservation and community involvement embodies the spirit of turning a vision into reality. As DIVEIndia continues to explore new depths and broaden its horizons, it stands as a reminder that anything is possible if you are willing to put in the hard work for it. 

Feeling inspired? Check our guide to Diving the Andaman Islands and plan your dream dive trip to India.


Andi Cross is an SSI Ambassador and lead of the Edges of Earth expedition, highlighting stories of positive ocean progress and how to explore the world more consciously. To keep up with the expedition, follow the team on InstagramLinkedInTikTokYouTube and their website