As mentioned in many of articles hindutva is another name for Muslim bashing and all hatemongers with devilish agendas always use propaganda, rumor mongering and myth creation as principle tools in their aim to create wedge between communities in their politics of divide and rule. “Minority Appeasement” is one such myth which has been successfully created by hindutva so much so that even common well meaning Hindus have started believing in this allegation.
Hajj Subsidy was very easily used as an example to point out minority appeasement and this was beamed live in the homes of millions of Indians in n number of debates on PAID / BIASED national television channels which also work as mouthpiece of parties with devious agendas. This undue and one sided exposure on hajj subsidy created deep impression in the mind of ordinary Indians so much so that when the Government finally brought legislation to remove the subsidy everyone seemed to be 100% convinced that it was a welcome decision and right way forward and would help save tax payers money especially as it was provided only for one community.
Reality is that hajj subsidy is minuscule compared to subsidy provided for Hindu festivals and pilgrimages and related arrangements. Now the question arises that hajj subsidy was removed as part of policy to ’empower minorities without appeasement’. These are exactly the same words used by government spokesperson when announcement to this effect was made. Which means that providing hajj subsidy was an act of minority appeasement which was done away with. If providing subsidy for hajj pilgrimage was appeasement then by that logic providing subsidy for Hindu festivals and pilgrimages is also appeasement – however here comes the HYPOCRISY of hindutva brigade. All along they kept on ranting against hajj subsidy even though they knew fully well that there are more than 10 Hindu festivals and pilgrimages wherein government at center and state spends far more than the amount spent on hajj subsidy.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, India’s minister for minority affairs, said on Tuesday that the move was part of “a policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement”.
“Hajj subsidy funds will be used for the educational empowerment of girls and women from minority communities,” he told reporters in Delhi.
The decision followed a 2012 ruling by the country’s Supreme Court, which had directed the government to gradually reduce the subsidy and abolish it by 2022.
Hindutva have a plan, they have a narrative to build so as to create enmity between different communities by portraying that a particular (opposition) party is appeasing a particular community who are getting freebies and eating into the resources which rightfully belong to or are sponsored by majority (through taxes). This creates phobia among majority community where middle class is already struggling due to rampant corruption, price inflation unemployment etc. thanks to the ill conceived policies of the government but the pent up anger and frustration of masses is cleverly channelized against others (minorities) so that the common masses fight each other while the politicians enjoy their power and wealth.
In principle we support removal of Hajj subsidy as in Islam Hajj is obligatory only on those people who have financial means to carry out this obligation (& we don’t need to give our enemies stick to beat us with it -:)). Furthermore the hajj travelers should get freedom and flexibility to chose from various flight options instead of being forced to using Air India as was the case when the hajj subsidy was in place and it is said that the airline was major beneficiary of the hajj subsidy.
Maulana Mehmood Madani and Indian political and general secretary of the Muslim Organization Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind “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.”
As Supreme Court recently said, religion is a personal relationship between man and god; it is an individual choice. The money saved from hajj and other subsidies can be better utilized by investing the same on basic education & healthcare infrastructure to ensure that these facilities are accessible for the poorest of the poor and marginalized. However if all the subsidies for Hindu pilgrimages remain then in that case the money saved from hajj subsidy would not be significant enough and hence in such case should be used specifically for Muslim community.
Hajj Subsidy data for last few years
The responsibility for making air travel arrangements for Haj pilgrims identified by the Haj Committee of India (HCoI) is with Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The pilgrims deposit a fixed amount decided on year to year basis towards airfare to HCoI and the balance fare payable to the Airlines is paid by MoCA as subsidy to facilitate the Haj pilgrims. The subsidy given by the Government during last three years and current year and the amount deposited to HCoI by each pilgrim towards airfare is as under:
|Year||Total subsidy including service tax (Rs. In crore)||Amount deposited to HCoI by each pilgrim towards airfare (in Rs.)|
The Haj subsidy mainly went to Air India and not to the individuals going on Haj.
In 2016, the government charged Rs 2,21,050 for ‘green category’ pilgrims. This included airfare of Rs 45,000, airport charges of Rs 7,567 and Haj committee fee of Rs 1,000. For accommodation at Mecca and Medina, each pilgrim was charged 5,000 Saudi riyals. Then there is another head called ‘others’, under which 4,240 riyals were charged without any details of break-up. It seems that 180 riyals are for local transport and 500 riyals for Mualim (the Saudi facilitator of Haj) fee, which means another 680 riyals. If we deduct 680 riyals from 4,240, we get 3,560 riyals – which leaves approximately Rs 64,500 that is being charged without any head. In addition, 2,100 riyals are also charged which are given back to the pilgrim on their arrival in Mecca, for food and other expenses.
Airfare in the open market, particularly when booked in advance, will likely be much lower that what was charged by the government, in the range of Rs 23,000-25,000 for the bulk booking. The higher Air India fare is justified because the Saudi government requires the planes to return empty.
It is time for the monopoly of Air India to end; let pilgrims get the best price in an open global competitive bidding. For years, the government has been charging pilgrims approximately between Rs 85,000-95,000 extra. So where is the subsidy?
Subsidy & Spending on Other Religions
- Maharashtra’s Nashik Muncipal Corporation and State government approves rupees 1,052 crore in 2015
- Madhya Pradesh’s Simhasta Kumbh Mela budget may rise to 5,000 crore rupees (750 million USD approx), 3,000 crore rupees has been spent so far.
- UP invites applications for subsidy from UP pilgrims who completed Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
- Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims to get more subsidy
- UP CM Yogi Adityanath promises Rs 1 lakh subsidy for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
- Subsidy for pilgrims going to Manasarovar, Muktinath
- Subsidy draws more pilgrims to Kailash
- STATE GOVT TO FUND CHARDHAM YATRA
- Rs 50,000 aid for 50 Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims in Haryana
- MP adds Ayodhya, 5 other places to ‘free pilgrimage scheme’
- Rs 2,500 cr, 22 govt depts, 40 NGOs at work for clean Kumbh Mela
- Maharashtra government yet to give Rs 200 crore for Kumbh Mela: Nashik mayor
- Simhastha Kumbh budget may rise to Rs 5,000 crore: MP Govt
As we can see from the data provided above, hajj subsidy was 405 crores in 2016 whereas if we count the total subsidy across all Hindu pilgrimages then it will run into thousands of crores. Moreover the benefit of Hajj subsidy mainly went to Air India not to individuals going on Hajj.
- If the government wants to follow SC directive to separate religion and state then it should have started with those subsidies which were higher in monetary value.
- If the government wants to end appeasement politics then it should have removed subsidy for Hindu pilgrimages first as the current government is seen as hindutva appeasing government and it would have sent the right message and demonstrated clear intentions.
- However in the absence of removal of subsidies of Hindu pilgrimages and the actions of government so far it is clear that the intention is different from the action, reality is that first the propaganda was created of minority appeasement and now again government is acting as savior and champion of Hindus (Hindutvadis) by showing minorities their place (remember hindutva = minority bashing) and ending so called appeasement which never happened.