Centre Withdraws Haj Subsidy, Fund To Be Utilised For Minority Girls' Education
Thousands of Muslims who make their yearly pilgrimage to Haj, will not be entitled to any subsidy anymore, the government has said today. They will not be entitled to cheaper or subsidised plane tickets anymore. The big move would help empower Muslims with dignity, said union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, adding, “We believe in empowerment without appeasement,” as reported by NDTV.
“Muslims didn’t benefit from it. Development with dignity is what we believe in. The subsidy will be used for educating girls,” Mr Naqvi said.
Despite the subsidy being withdrawn, almost 1.75 lakh Muslims would go on the pilgrimage this year after Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.
Justice Aftab Alam had passed a judgement in the Supreme Court where he asked the phasing out of Haj subsidy by 2022.
What is the Haj subsidy?
The Indian Government subsidised the travel expenses of Indian Haj Pilgrims; this is enforced through the Haj Committee Act of 1959. These contributions date back to the era of the British Raj. Through the form of discounted airfares on Air India flights, the Government takes care of all transportation costs from Mumbai to Jeddah. Throughout the last century, the Government has subsided more travel locations to destinations including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Jordan.
Many Muslims have negative opinions on the subsidisation. Maulana Mehmood Madani and Indian political and general secretary of the Muslim Organization Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind spoke out against the Government’s actions. “It is against the Shariat to be under any kind of obligation while undertaking Haj. According to the Quran, only those Muslims who can afford the expenses should perform Haj. It’s recommended only for adult, financially able and sane Muslims.”
Other religious subsidies
The Indian Government also subsidises several Hindu pilgrimages. The most prominent examples of this are the four Kumbh Melas.The central and State Governments spend over a thousand crores annually on the Melas, with several allegations of misuse of funds.
Besides the yatras, various state governments have passed various subsidies over the years to the benefit of temples, spiritual gurus, rituals, yagnas, and welfare funds.Other pilgrimages attracting centre and state funds. These include the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, the Amarnath yatra, the Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana etc.
The Logical Indian Take
Government subsidies given to religious pilgrimages highlight the strange nature of Indian secularism – which is essentially cooperation between State and religious institutions instead of separation of the same.The Logical Indian appreciates the decision of scrapping the subsidy and investing in Muslim girl’s education. Subsidies based on religious grounds, be it Hindu or Muslim or Christian does not hold any importance in a secular country that India is.