SajanSpeaks

Thoughts that originate deep within

Archive for the month “November, 2015”

Indian Defence Forces: Unlimited Liability?

A few weeks back when Col Santosh Mahadik, SM, made the Supreme Sacrifice in J&K, the Northern Army Commander said – “The ethos of the Indian Army, the culture of the Indian Army – these are things that are sometimes not very well understood. We have a concept of unlimited liability. A man goes into battle, a man faces terrorists and he faces them sometimes with certainty that he could lose his life.P1020623

This Unlimited Liability is what set me thinking. For someone who is ready to give his/ her life, what are we, as a Nation giving him back? If he has Unlimited Liability don’t we have any Liability to those who gave their Life for us, or those who are left behind because of it?

The stark reality of facts, is that I see old veterans in their sunset years, sitting at Jantar Mantar everyday asking their rightful dues. I don’t see those in power listening to them. These are living souls who are being treated such, then what about those souls who died fighting for us.

On Diwali day, I contacted my colleague’s wife. My colleague is up with the God’s having lost his life, fighting terrorists this year. Her WhatsApp status hit me right in the face – “Sach kaha thaa kisee ne, Tanhayi mein jeena seekhlo; Mohabbat jitnee bhi sachhi ho, Saath chod hi jaati hai”. To cheer her up, I messaged my Diwali Greetings to her. Her reply rattled me again – “Diwali, Dusshera, Holi saare festival apni life se nikal diya…Ab inki meri life mein koi zarurat nahi, Ab toh bus zindagi…kisee tarah chal rahi hai.” This is the Truth of those who had Unlimited Liability for our Nation. Can anyone get her “Suhaag” back? I am ready to pay. Life is not measured in money. Yet, those who are ready to die for us are called by some as “Paid to Die” or “Have lost relevance due to no wars in last 40 years”. This attitude of condescending is what hurts. Soldiers do not join only for the pay or money. They are a motivated lot. Mercenaries come for Money. It doesn’t take much intelligence to understand the difference.

How Do Other Nations Value their Soldiers? I have come across many examples which show how much the US or UK governments value this Unlimited Liability. They still salute their Heroes who gave their lives decades ago. They still honou5671914874527722928_Orgr them, they still value them, and they still celebrate them. They give them a place among the highest. This picture shows Prince Charles visiting their fallen Heroes in an Indian Cemetery in Pune. That sets me wondering, may be it is that attitude of theirs, that made them stand apart, and rule the world once, and are still among many nations that count in the international arena.

Don’t we as a Nation aspire to be the greatest in the world? Don’t we as a Nation want to have a Defence Force that is the pride of the Nation? Don’t we want the youth prefer to join the profession of Arms? If Yes, then the time to rewrite history is NOW! Show the Forces your support.

How Can You show them Your Support? Where ever You are, in whatever position You are, voice Your opinion in support of these men and women. If You come across a Veteran or a Serving Soldier give him more than his due. Go and be present when somebody nearby is being given their “Antim Salute”. Support the cause of the Veterans, by sharing their stories of valour, or stories of deprivation, in social media. Support the cause for creating a Veterans Day. Light a Candle for those who lose their life each day somewhere. Voice Yourself for their rights which gets denied to them. Show them that You are proud of them, show them that, we as a Nation, are worth the lives they are ready to sacrifice. Cheer for them as you would cheer in the cricket stadium. Keep these people in Your prayers every day. Even God can’t be deaf to a Billion Prayers.

Let us be that One Drop which will one day make the Mighty Ocean. Do Your bit- Will You?

Tolerating Intolerance!

India, since ancient days has been known to be a nation which has a culture of inclusiveness, adaptability, welcoming change and evolving positively. As a geographical entity we have easily adapted to and assimilated with various cultures of Aryans, to Invaders, to Traders, to Mughals to Britishers. Yet we have retained the originality of being India. Those of us who emigrate, easily adapt to the cultures of those nations we go and live, yet, we beautifully retain our learning, our culture and our roots – Our Indian-ess. We are great in adapting, and evolving to better humans. I read somewhere that ancient India used to encourage TARK – VITARK (Arguments/ Debate/ Discussion).

Then where have we lost it in the recent times. Where have we, as a Nation started abusing people, who disagreed? Why does our Facebook timeline, our WhatsApp messages or Twitter account get filled with vitriolic messages that suddenly makes you feel that as a Nation our threshold to accept varied views is becoming lower and lower. We howl and rant that we are not intolerant!! That itself has defeated the message we want to convey and gives justification to the people who said that we as a nation are indeed intolerant.

PerspectiveThe biggest bane today for this country is the TV Channels and Smart phones. Almost every house has one. The country was seemingly far more peaceful when these things were not present despite worse things having taken place. If you analyse the reasons for the sudden discomfort, the first trigger is always the media, especially the Television channels who are hungry to get the next big TRP rating. They blow up small inconsequential stuff, interviews, and statements to make it a BREAKING NEWS – SANSANI.  And immediately it is followed by an Army of Trigger Happy Twitteratti, WhatsApp Creative Geniuses, and FB Tigers whom I collectively call the Key Board Commandos who are ready to strike down anything that is perceived as an insult to the nation. They are not ready to read up, listen fully or analyse completely. They only follow Shoot First and Ask Later policy. They go purely by hearsay. Most of them hide behind anonymity on Twitter, or the famous “Forwarded as Received” tagline on WhatsApp/ FB, but some do come out of their closets and have an opinion on anything without thinking of the consequences. Mind you many of them are well educated, which proves education isn’t by the degrees alone.

The recent Tolerant / Intolerant debate was one such example. What an actor said did not make the nation look bad internationally, but the onslaught on him definitely had the foreign media analysing the effect of it making the nation look really intolerant. Condemning or Disagreeing with a statement is acceptable but Vitriolic Intolerance does not augur well.

Analyse further, we get to see a pattern. Many of the issues seem to be manufactured by vested interests. They have political backing be it the Award Waapsi or the Tolerance March. Each panders to a category. Many issues have some religious connotation. Together they make a heady combination. And we are just being used as pawns because we get worked up due to the love for our nation. Are we even aware that these manufactured controversies are diverting our attention from other important issues- governance, price rise, legislation etc? We need to be more deeply aware than the surface currents.

None of these controversies would have risen in the first place had the Govt led by our able PM condemned all kinds of unwanted statements/ actions the moment it happened conveying a message that there is NO TOLERANCE for INTOLERANCE! I would be happiest, henceforth, if our Govt condemns such actions in the strongest words, and the moment that is done, these controversies would die its natural death.

No nation is perfect. Even we are not. However India is far better than many nations. The kind of unity in diversity we have here puts all theories to shame. Let us build India to be a better place.

FwdsWhat Can We do as Responsible Citizens?  If you truly love your country, Use the Delete Key more often. Stop Sharing something which you can’t substantiate. Read More on the subject, Research for the Truth. Stop Commenting on something which you feel has the possibility of spiralling out of control. Remove attention seekers, alarmists, Pseudo Nationalists from your friend lists/ unfollow them on social media, Stop Watching TV channels which only thrive on controversies, and howling matches.

Suddenly you will see the nation is back where it is – Peaceful with some pinpricks here and there. Let us accept there are other points of view, but believe in the Truth.

As a parting line I quote a mantra from the ancient Indian scripture Mundaka Upanishad and our National Motto – Satyemeva Jayate! Truth Alone Triumphs!

Wives : Are 4 Enough?

Polygyny is marrying more than one woman. There is widespread belief that this is mainly practiced among Muslims. Is the belief True? NO. The Official reports of 1974 in India, highlighted the shocking fact that polygyny among Muslims is lowest than held beliefs (Adivasis: 15 per cent, Buddhists: 7.9 per cent, Jains: 6.7 per cent, Hindus: 5.8 per cent, Muslims: 5.6 per cent). Let us analyse this issue in most religions.

Polygyny

Why is the belief that this is a Muslim tradition? Because the Quran states so. Does it in reality? Yes – Verse from Surah Nisa of the Glorious Quran states: ‘Marry woman of your choice in twos’ threes’ or fours’ but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, (with them), then only one’ [Al-Quran 4:3]

It is important to understand that the Quran permits but does not order a man to have four wives. More importantly, the Quran stipulates that a man is responsible for the maintenance of his wife or wives. If a man has more than one wife, he has to provide separate living accommodation for each of his wives. In fact some even argue, Quran is the only holy book to say “Marry One” and protects the rights of women.

Karen Armstrong in her book titled “Muhammad: A Western Attempt to Understand Islam” says: “We have to see the ruling about polygamy in context. In seventh-century Arabia, when a man could have as many wives as he chose, to prescribe only four was a limitation, not a license to new oppression

My understanding of Islamic history reveals that this edict in Quran is meant to protect the women of that era when there were widespread wars. There were many widows and they were exploited. Hence it was ordained to have one wife and give three more women shelters provided the man can look after each one with equal rights.

Turkey banned Polygyny in 1926 and Tunisia in 1956. In some Muslim countries, like Egypt and Iran, a man is required to get not only the consent of his first wife but also the approval of a court prior to entering into plural marriage. The Moroccan code has a provision for the court to deny permission. A similar provision exists in Jordan. Whereas  the fact is only 2% of Muslim marriages world wide are of this nature.

Polygyny in Hinduism. As for this practice in the Sanatan Dharma – read more at  http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_polygamy.asp It is a known fact that many of our ancient kings had many wives.

in India though not banned in the scriptures, The Hindu Marriage Act 1955, prohibits taking more than one wife. However this is bypassed or misused most of the time. One leading political figure in a southern state has more than one wife. The concept in Tamil Nadu is called “Chinna Veedu” (literally translated as small house). For some it is a prestige to have a Chinna Veedu. Polygyny is also noticeable in hill tribes and other areas. The upper-caste Gujarati version of bigamy is called Maitri Karar, meaning friendship document. A 2013 report in India Today said that people in Ahmedabad were “opting for it”.  Many also misuse the law by converting to Islam, as was evidenced by Haryana Deputy Chief Minister in 2008 when Chander Mohan became Chand Mohammed to marry again.

There is however a problem with this aspect. If a man deserts his lawfully wedded wife to live with another woman, the only remedy available to the aggrieved woman is divorce. However, most women may not view divorce as a viable option due to social pressures. Clandestine bigamy among Hindus has a worse effect than open polygamy among Muslims. Muslim men are legally bound to provide proper maintenance. Hence, we may argue that a “second Muslim wife” is better off than the “second Hindu wife”, who has no legal status or rights under the law. In the Supreme Court ruling of 2010, in D. Velusamy case, the second wife was denied maintenance and held to be a “mistress”. This is a serious matter, which merits urgent attention and intervention.

Polygyny in Jewism.  Abraham had 2 wives, and Solomon had hundreds of wives. The practice of polygyny continued till Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah. (960 A.D to 1030 A.D) issued an edict against it.

Polygyny in Christianity. Polygamy/bigamy in the Bible is first mentioned in Genesis 4:19: “Lamech married two women” Several prominent men in the Old Testament were polygamists. Jacob, David and others all had multiple wives. However the New Testament does not mention it. There are many Church sects in Christianity which practice plural marriage esp. in Africa.

What does the Supreme Court Say? India’s Supreme Court in Feb 2015, has ruled out the practice of having multiple wives for Muslims arguing that it is not a fundamental right for those who practice Islam. Judges TS Thakur and AK Goel said that Article 25 of the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and free profession and practice of religion, but does not guarantee the practice of polygamy.

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women says polygamous marriages should be discouraged and outlawed because they are unequal and have negative emotional and financial impacts on women and children.

So What is it! Only a married man knows how difficult it is to run a family even with one wife. I wonder how many would jump into another marriage knowingly, except for some emotional angles like child bearing/ health issues. Even in that case we need to ensure proper protection and care should be given to the first wife under the law.

Whatever be the argument, religious or otherwise, it is best to adopt One Man – One Wife policy. Our laws should be codified to ensure security of women. Would there be a different opinion on this? What is your say?

Forwarded as Received: Are You Absolved of Your Responsibility?

Many of us have come across this phrase “Forwarded as Received” on messages in the various social media we are in, be it Facebook, WhatsApp, Hike,WeChat or Telegram. Do you think as educated citizens of this country, Can we Absolve Our Responsibility in sending these messages further, by just prefixing: “Forwarded as Received”?

social-media

Early Days. Let us examine, these “forwards”. Having started emailing before Y2K, and being present in the Smart phone social media since the past 5 years, I have come across some trends in this phenomenon. During the days of Email forwards, it was mostly Jokes, Inspirational Stuff or the typical “Send this to 10 persons in the next 1 minute to receive a blessing or avoid a curse”. To be honest while I really enjoyed the Jokes and got inspired by the motivational stuff, I have never forwarded the chain mails. Yet, I never received any curses, and I also know that blessings have NOT been received by those who sent it to me. These were merely experiments done by some marketing companies to understand how far these messages reach on electronic media .

Current Trends. In India, the trends from 2010 to 2013, was mostly, either facts to show India as a great nation, or some anti-govt propaganda or fake pictures. In the run up to the elections and post elections in 2014, I found a spike in the number of forwards that has hate content targeting religions/communities sometimes even vicious propaganda to gain electoral advantages. Some messages sound very true, but have been purportedly manufactured by vested interests including the ISI to target and weaken the resolve in the society or the Armed forces in particular. One such example of effect of social media rumors was the Exodus of North East people from Bangalore in Aug 2012. No wonder the Govt now bans the internet the moment some crisis takes place, like it did in Gujarat during the Patel agitation recently or in J&K whenever there is tension building up.

Design of Forwards. The language of these forwards are designed such, that it mixes up known facts and fiction. It gives authority of some reputed person/ newspaper or Govt sources (which are generally red herrings). Many a times, the content alarms us and propels us to act or do our bit for the country, to raise awareness among our friends but in actuality we are merely being used as pawns to spread the agenda of the originator. You can make out these messages, from the last part which generally ends with “If you are a True Indian…spread this to…..”

The Reach. According to Global Web Index survey of August 2015, we have 134 million active social media users in India which is about 10% of the population. We can guess they are the active, productive, educated population who matter to this country. If this population can be weakened, our nation can become weak. This population includes majority of decision makers or opinion makers in the Govt and other areas. This is the population which can swing the wave in favor or against the country.

What should be Our Response when we receive such forwards? I am not talking here of the Jokes or some simple harmless forwards. We have many options- The First one is to Ignore it. But majority of us do not ignore it, instead we forward it to our groups we are part of. The better action would be to question the source or authority from the sender of the forward. This discourages the sender. The best alternative, which I do is to Search for the Truth on Google and invariably you will find multiple sources. Do not confine to one source, website or blog. They are equally false and dangerous. Always try and get to the source and the Truth as far as possible. One of the best way to find a hoax is to check in http://www.snopes.com/ or http://www.hoax-slayer.com/. This method is effective and you can send the Truth back to the originator. Slowly this puts an end to the menace of falsity that is spread in the social media. It also is a great way to enhance one’s knowledge during the search. It also keeps your groups you are part of, Clean and SPAM free.

I encourage you to do your bit to our Nation, its safety, its security by NOT forwarding messages without checking the veracity of the facts. Remember, All the Googles is not Gold and Check before You Post – Two proverbs, I modified to suit the modern times.

I am sure you will be a Social Media Warrior for the betterment of this country. Won’t you?

The 7th CPC – Have the Defence Forces been Compensated Adequately?

The 7th CPC report was tabled on 19 Nov 15. I am not going to go into the nitty-gritty of the 899 page report. Everything is available in the public domain and every expert is giving varied views. You too can form your own opinion if it is justified, satisfactory, affordable to the nation etc. etc.

Today I will touch upon just one aspect of the sacrifice that these brave men/ women are subjected to. And my question is –Have the Defence Forces been Compensated adequately to cover their sacrifices? Just a moment, I am NOT going to talk about the Ultimate Sacrifice which, just a day earlier was paid by a brother, Col Santosh Mahadik, SM, which is the Ultimate Sacrifice. That is a topic by itself. Then what is it that I am going to write about?

Are you aware, that it is NOT only the man who opts for the Defence Forces sacrifices for the nation but his entire family too sacrifices as much. But this is strangely not visible to the world. Let me explain.

An Indian soldier stands guard on his side of the Line of Control near Jammu, Kashmir.

Military personnel are posted to remote locations and many of them have some family accommodation. These are called modified field areas. The standard of schools aren’t that great. The teachers are just average and many times, wives of these personnel themselves have to teach for want of better teachers locally. The posting every two years results in their kids being forced to go to a different school each time. The kids suffer because of this. What happens in the long run? They lose out on stability, they lose out on good schools, they lose out on better teachers. They lose out on having a good base in core subjects. When they reach higher classes and board exams they lose out big time to other kids who have had a steady schooling in the best schools with best teachers and good tutors. Hence these kids with great potential, wonderful grooming, and excellent manners stand nowhere to the competition, and end up getting placed much lesser as compared to their true potential. So hasn’t the child sacrificed along with his Father? Who compensates the child?

Let us talk about the Lady. She stays in makeshift accommodation, looks after her kids with whatever is available locally, lives within the means provided by her husband’s pay. Her education, her potential, her abilities have no avenues for her professional growth. In the end some just end up teaching in the local schools, paid much below that what she could have otherwise earned or progressed in life economically and professionally. Expressed in business terminology, her Opportunity Loss is far greater and cant be quantified. Isn’t she sacrificing her life along with her husband? Who compensates the Lady?

Do you think the Military Service Pay (MSP) – the only differentiator between those serving in Armed forces and outside,  adequately caters to these loses and sacrifices? And how much is the MSP? It was just 6000 rupees for officers and 2000 for Soldiers in the 6th Pay Commission. Yes a mere few thousands. Some of our maids and drivers get paid more. How much would it be in the 7th CPC? It will now be Rs 15500 for offrs and 5200 for Soldiers. We will know exactly how much it would be, when the Govt approves it. I can tell you from my experience that even with the new MSP, it can’t even fetch a good Tutor for the child in higher classes to compensate for the life time losses the child has suffered due to their father’s postings.

Are we as a Nation not short changing the man and his family just because he is ready to sacrifice his entire life for us. Just because he can’t speak his feelings as he is duty bound by a Defence law which has taken away his Right to Speech. No wonder, today you see old soldiers agitating on the streets for their rights.  It is not about money, it is their pent up emotions after realizing that they have been short-changed through out their entire lifetime.

Think. What would you have done? Is your family’s lifetime sacrifices worth just a mere few thousand rupees. Please speak out to support the Forces, Express yourselves in the social media, whenever you can, from where you can. And lastly, Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. That is a way we can do out bit for these brave hearts. And my question to You is – Won’t You?

You Cant Kill the Spirit – A Salute to Paris

My humble Salute to Parisians!

Antoine Leiris, is a Parisian, who has a 17-month-old son. He lost his wife in the Paris Attack. He met his wife 12 years ago and described her as an “exceptional being”.

Here is Antoine’s Message to the WORLD, what he has written online and published by ITV news, (Source: http://www.itv.com/news/2015-11-16):

paris-attacks-2015

 “On Friday night you stole away the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I do not know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls.

If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in His image, each bullet in my wife’s body would have been a wound in His heart.

Therefore I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have obviously sought it but responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that that has made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to cast a mistrustful eye on my fellow citizens, to sacrifice my freedom for security. Lost. Same player, same game.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago.

Of course I’m devastated with grief, I will give you that tiny victory, but this will be a short-term grief. I know that she will join us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls which you will never have access to.

In any case, I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies… and every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom. Because you don’t have his hatred either.”

It is people like Antoine Leiris who make this World still a live-able place. I salute his courage, his spirit, his Values- and the man himself as a great human being. I wish the attackers were even 1% of this Exceptional Man.

And a message for those who are still planning in some part of the world, for some more attacks, remember You can NEVER kill the SPIRIT.

My Prayers Antoine for you and your son and all those affected all over the world by this disease of terror. I condemn Terror and the Perpetrators in all Forms.

Let us promote Love and Care and Brotherhood within our own circles.

Jai Hind!

 

Indian Armed Forces Answer to the Hatred in the World

INCREDIBLE INDIA: India’s Solution to the International problem of hatred – from the Armed forces fraternity.

Coming at the backdrop of the deadly killings in Paris, the World is witnessing renewed hatred between religions, communities and nation states, that seemingly may spiral into worse carnage if not checked right now. Killings in Paris and anywhere in the world is unjustified totally and is condemned unequivocally. Amongst this backdrop I get a message from my friend and course mate, a serving Colonel in the Indian Army.

Indian_Army_Signpost__in_the_Himalayas

He speaks about his experience after he was invited at the marriage ceremony of his colleague Nb Sub Jagir Khan who had died some years ago, when he was commanding that company. He writes…..

“An experience in the innumerable prospects of secularism…….Today , I, a left leaning, karha (bangle around the wrist which is a Sikh religious symbol) wearing, temple going, atheist Malayali Nair, was a prominent member of the bride’s family as the Nikah of Saira, daughter of my late colleague Jagir Khan was solemnized….

With me were three fauji colleagues, Sulinder Singh, a Hindu, Gurdarshan Singh a Sikh and Mausam Ali a Muslim.. Amongst the closest friends of Saira’s brother Amir, were two boys by the name Akash, running around to organise things, one of them conspicuously displaying his religious identity in the form of the red tilak on his forehead… Arrangements for guests were done in the house of the neighbour, Bharat Singh…

This is my close first hand encounter with this Spirit of India has convinced me that Indian Secularism is the only road to salvation for a world infested with hatred…”

I salute this friend of mine, and his colleagues.

Is there a lesson for us to learn? Does the sanskrit words “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means  “the world is one family” ring a bell today? What can we do better within our sphere of influence? Tell me how would you do it differently.

Jai Hind!

The Hajj Subsidy Conundrum – Explained

A friend’s post in a social media group prompted me to study more about Hajj Subsidy. Hajj Subsidy is an oft quoted thing by some people who claim that Govt is carrying out appeasement of minorities in this case specifically Muslims in India.

What is Hajj? We need to answer this first to understand the meaning of it. Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is the biggest annual gathering of a people in the world. It is a tradition that has been followed even before Prophet Mohammed. I think it was Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham who initiated this around 2000BC) It is the highest pilgrimage that a Muslim can perform if he can once in his life.

hajj2

Is it prescribed for all? The answer is NO. It is only prescribed for those who can afford it, physically able and for those who have completed their responsibilities (Like marrying off children, dividing property etc). In olden days people going on Hajj were not expected to return because of old age and the distance and travel by Ship. But if they did return, they were called Hajis, and were expected to lead a peaceful religious life. Today this journey is very simple because of Flights and are more organised (despite the loss of life recently in the 2015 Hajj) and 99.9% people return alive.

My first shock in life was how can a Haji be a smuggler? Haji Mastan the famous smuggler Mobster of the 70s in Mumbai! Slowly it dawned on me, doing Hajj doesn’t clean your sins unless you do.

Coming to Hajj Subsidy now. It goes totally against the principles/ tenets of Islam and Hajj. Because you are NOT supposed to perform Hajj if you can’t afford it. Therefore the question of getting a subsidy is wrong per se.

So when did this start. It started in 1932 when Britisher’s started Haj embarkation at Bombay and Calcutta. This was replaced in 1959 by the Haj Committee Act. A subsidy was granted to include travel, medicare and food in the ships. Ships were abolished in 1973 after an accident and flights were permitted. Many pilgrims were not able to afford it and so the subsidy was increased to bridge the difference.

How much is the subsidy? We should understand that only Air India is permitted to fly Haj flights and hence whatever is the subsidy goes to Air India only. The amount depends on the airfare at that time. Air fare ranges from INR 65,000 onwards…..In 2014, a sum of INR 35,000 was charged from the pilgrim for the air ticket and rest was made up of Govt subsidy. In 2015, the amount charged was INR 42000. The pilgrim has to pay for other expenses separately. A lakh plus pilgrims have utilised the subsidy last year.

Is there another way to go to Hajj? Only those who get the subsidy have to go by Air India. Others who afford can go by any airways….I know a person who performed the pilgrimage and it cost her about 2.2 lakhs in 2011. A normal airline charges about INR 30,000 only for airfare. AI charges double that plus extra. So I do not know what the meaning of subsidy is. Is it a bail out to Air India or is someone else pocketing it or is it to the Pilgrim. I know the next question is why then should people prefer the Govt route….The answer lies in Visa for Hajj. Saudi Govt issues only a limited number of Visas and most Visas are pocketed by the Govt. Hence the rush for the Govt route. Otherwise provide the visa free, and I think it should become cheaper on the whole.

What do Muslims thinks about the Hajj Subsidy? From the Imam of Jama Masjid to leading luminaries and the Minority Affairs Ministry have opposed the subsidy. YES OPPOSED the subsidy. The Supreme Court in a Landmark ruling declared that this is unconstitutional and un-Islamic and that Haj Subsidy should be totally removed by 2022. Accordingly the total subsidy is decreasing each year from 840 crores in 2012 to 533 Crores in 2014….and will reduce further.

I personally feel, Taxpayers money should NOT be utilised only for one community. Every community should pay for its own beliefs. What is the solution? Abolish Hajj Subsidy and improve the lot by education and enabling them to create wealth to pay for themselves. Also Muslims have a tradition of Zakkat that is giving 2.5% of their income to charity. If they want they should provide funds for such issues of helping out people for going to Hajj.

But therein lies the catch…if you can’t afford, why go in the first place? And if the Govt is giving a subsidy- who is the beneficiary – The Pilgrim or Air India. You are the Best Judge!

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