Prashant Mavani, is an expert in current affairs analysis and holds a MSc in Management from University of Surrey (U.K.).

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1 Prashant Mavani, is an expert in current affairs analysis and holds a MSc in Management from University of Surrey (U.K.). Above all he is a passionate teacher.

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3 Introduction Once a year, Muslims of every ethnic group, color, social status, and culture gather together in Mecca and stand before the Kaaba praising Allah together. They circle Islam's most sacred site, the cube-shaped Kaaba in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, and take part in a series of rituals. These rituals are intended to bring about greater humility and unity among Muslims. Also to promote the bonds of Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood by showing that everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah.

4 The journey is seen as one of the five pillars of Islam, central to the faith. Mandatory things all Muslims must do during their lifetime, as long as they are physically and financially able to. Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of Faith Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy Sawm: fasing during the month of Ramadan Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca

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6 Purpose of the Hajj While following a route the Prophet Muhammad once walked, the rites of Hajj are believed to ultimately trace the footsteps of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail. Muslims believe Ibrahim's faith was tested when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son Ismail. Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but then God stayed his hand, sparing his son. Pilgrims also trace the path of Ibrahim's wife, Hagar, who Muslims believe ran between two hills seven times searching for water for her dying son. Tradition holds that God then brought forth a spring that runs to this day. That spring, known as the sacred well of Zamzam, is believed to possess healing powers and pilgrims often return from the Hajj with bottles of its water as gifts. In the year 628 the Prophet Muhammed set out on a journey with 1400 of his followers. This was the first pilgrimage in Islam

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9 History of Hajj Subsidy The Haj subsidy traces its origins to the British colonial era. In 1932, the British colonial government enacted The Port Haj Committees Act, which provided for government funded Haj Committee and named Bombay and Calcutta as two embarkation points for Haj by Muslims in British India. In 1959, Indian government repealed and replaced the 1932 Act, enacting Haj Committee Act, to establish a Committee in the Port of Bombay for assisting Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Jordan and for matters connected therewith. The purpose of this Act was to manage all affairs of pilgrims like disseminating information, to negotiate travel arrangements, arranging guides, helping the needy and to address grievances of pilgrims. 1973: The government of India replaced the means of travel to Saudi Arabia from ships to aircraft. The government of India replaced the means of travel to Saudi Arabia from ships to aircraft.

10 Supreme Court of India on Hajj Subsidy 2012: SC directed the Centre to gradually reduce the amount of subsidies being given to Haj pilgrims so that within 10 years it is eliminated. The money saved to be used for the uplift of the community in education and other indices of social development. We have no doubt that a very large majority of Muslims applying to the Haj Committee would not be aware of the economics of their pilgrimage. And if all the facts are made known, a good many of the pilgrims would not be very comfortable in the knowledge that their Haj is funded to a substantial extent by the government, said a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai. The bench said while reminding the community about Holy Quran's verse 97 in Surah 3, Al-e- Imran, which mandated that Muslims should undertake haj only if they could afford it.

11 The bench observed, as regards the Haj subsidy, from the figures for the past 19 years given in the affidavit filed by the Union of India, it appears that the amount has been increasing every year. In terms of number of people and air fare. The court also highlighted statistics Year No. of pilgrims Cost in INR ,035 17, ,000 54,000 As a result, the total Haj subsidy that was Rs crores in the year 1994 swelled up to Rs.685 crores in the year 2011.

12 The apex court also objected to the jumbo size Prime Minister's goodwill delegation that visits Saudi Arabia every year at the government's expense. The size of the delegation was only three between 1967 and 1973, after which it remained 10 till Subsequently, the delegation picked up flab and became 31 in 1997, 36 (2005), 30 (2010) and 27 (2011). The court also wanted to examine why the government kept a quota of 11,000 haj pilgrims for itself of which over 3,000 were chosen on recommendation of VVIPs.

13 Subsidy to be phased out by 2018 Jan 2017: The Ministry for Minority Affairs had constituted a five member panel to formulate a new Haj policy in the light of the Supreme Court s 2012 order. Head: Afzal Amanullah (former Secretary, Minority Affairs) Recommendations: A. Reducing the Haj subsidy to nil by 2018 B. Reducing the number of embarkation points from 21 to nine. C. The policy suggests sending pilgrims by ship, relatively less expensive than flights. D. Allowing women above 45 years of age to perform Haj without a mehram E. Abolish the reserved quota for applicants above 70 years of age and the fourth timers.

14 A meeting of the review committee on the subsidy and Haj services was held on 02/Nov/17 which included senior officials from Ministries for Minority Affairs Civil Aviation External Affairs Haj Committee of India The Haj Committee reportedly asked for a phasing out with the 2022 deadline in mind saying it would affect pilgrims from small towns. Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed that the phase out would be as early as 2018, with the subsidy reduced to almost nil from the Rs450 crore being spent this year.

15 Minister said We would like to spend the funds on educational programs especially for girl children of the minority community. Subsidy is only one aspect of the government s responsibility with regard to Haj, we are committed to a more transparent and open system for sending pilgrims and their safety and security while they perform the pilgrimage. He also said that a new Haj policy had been almost finalised and would be made available to the court and the public soon. He added that it was in the Modi government s regime that Haj quota for India was increased by the Saudi Arabian government by 34,000.

16 Need lecture notes? Get it from or Telegram: Subscribe Share Like Comment Jai Hind

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