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Govt may finally do away with Haj subsidy

Tuesday April 03, 2012 01:43:44 PM, & Agencies

Kochi: Foreign minister S M Krishna on Monday said the Centre is having "second thoughts" on continuing the Haj subsidy. The minister said this while addressing questions from reporters on whether a similar package will be granted to Christians visiting holy lands.

Reacting to reports that there are plans to provide similar packages to Christian pilgrims, Krishna said the government is planning to do away with the subsidy for Haj pilgrims, adding that the change would be part of reforms that are taking place.


"There have been second thoughts even with reference to Haj. Haj reforms are taking place and this aspect will also form part of the reforms," he said, adding the government was seriously looking into it.

"We are eventually thinking of doing away with subsidy content. Large numbers of Muslim organisations want to abolish the subsidy concept for Haj," Krishna said.


But he did not specify which Muslim organizations had made this demand and what is the time-frame for the review. Interestingly, Krishna made these observations in the presence of the MoS for external affairs and the Indian Union Muslim League leader E Ahmed.


Many Muslim NGOs in the past have asserted that the community is not benefited from the subsidy given in the name of Haj. Instead the government traveler Air India gets the maximum benefits from it.


They are also of the view that if the government is calling open tenders from airlines to carry Hajis to Saudi Arabia, it would be much cheaper than what Hajis are paying today.


In 2008, the Andhra Pradesh Government had doled out a travel subsidy plan for Christian pilgrimage, drawing flak from the opposition as pandering to a minority community.


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Picture of the Day

Union Minister for Human Resource Development and Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal briefing the media on two years’ of Right to Education (RTE), in New Delhi on March 31, 2012. Secretary, SE&L, Ministry of HRD Mrs Anshu Vaish is also seen.

(Photo: Deinesh Kumar)



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