Haj Subsidy

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    •  Union Minister for Minority Affairs said that the Centre has done away with the discretionary Haj quota for pilgrims, in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “resolve to end VIP culture” in the country.

    About 

    • In 2012, the Supreme court reduced the Government quota from over 5000 to 500, split it into 300 for the Government and 200 for the Haj Committee of India (HCoI).
      • In the same judgement, the apex court had also directed the government to phase out the Haj subsidy within a period of 10 years, saying the sum can instead be used for the social and educational development of the Muslim community.

    About  Haj subsidy

    • It refers to discounted airfares given by government-owned airlines.
    • It also includes assistance to Muslim pilgrims for domestic travel to reach specially designed Haj departure airport terminals, lodging, medical care and meals. 
    • The Haj subsidy was first introduced in 1932 when the British government provided for a government-funded Haj committee and named Bombay and Calcutta as two ports from where Muslims could embark upon their pilgrimage.

    The Haj pilgrimage

    • The Haj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. 
    • It is considered to be a mandatory religious duty for all adult Muslims physically and financially capable of doing so. 
      • The rites of pilgrimage are performed over five to six days, in Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.

    India’s distribution of Haj slots for pilgrims

    • India signed the Haj 2023 bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia. According to the agreement, a total of 1,75,025 Indian Haj pilgrims will be able to perform Haj, reportedly the highest in history.

    Source:IE