KANPUR: There is not a big amount in the form of subsidy to the pilgrims going to Mecca for performing the Haj considered an obligatory ritual for a moneyed Muslim. It cannot be more than fifty thousand rupees as is clear in the reports.
But objections being raised against the subsidy amounts required to be studied with all its merits. If it is merely done after Owaisi’s suggestions, it is a matter of debate for the intellectuals.
Nonetheless, it cannot be negated that several Muslim politicians were opposed to this subsidy calling it as a trifle.
Since this financial support is related to the Muslims it is debatable indeed.
As the Supreme Court, itself, pointed out in its 2012 judgement we cannot be unaware of the fact that in many other solely religious events there is a straight and oblique use of the state funds and the state resources.
Strangely enough, these huge expenses on the holy pilgrimages other than the performance of Haj have rarely been attended by worries or anxieties about that kind of carefulness, economy and above all secular values.
Not only Haj subsidy
Whilst these stark objections to the Haj need to be considered, what has passed without scrutiny is the fact that India also spends money on a raft of pilgrimages, directly or indirectly. These are four Kumbh fairs held in Haridwar, Prayag, Nashik and Ujjain respectively. Millions of people attend each fair in different states.
To ensure that they go off smoothly, the central funds are routed through state governments to pay for constructions, arrangements and preparations including facilities for pilgrims and security for the fairs.
While presenting an example of the year 2014, it can be clearly stated that the Central government spent a large sum of about Rs 1,150 crore and the Uttar Pradesh government used a sum of Rs 11 crore on the Prayag Kumbh Mela which is held on the confluence of three rivers in Allahabad. Around the Akbar’s Fort and farther its tented site gives a spectacular view in the night. This is not the matter for discussion here as focus lies on the expenditures.
When such a huge amount is arranged there props up the reports of misuse also. Of this point in view opposition parties alleged that Rs 800 crore had been misused. Last year, the union culture ministry also set aside Rs 100 crore to be granted to the Madhya Pradesh govt for the Simhastha Mahakumbh which is held once in 12 years at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The state govt had already spent Rs 3400 crore on the event. What concerns the union government if a paltry sum is extended as a subsidy to the Muslims?
Although the apex court has suggested ending this financial help within a period of ten years, yet there seems to be rapidity as early as it could be done. That amount will go on the educational development of the Muslim students. Is this a logical stand?