Senior citizens (70-years and above) will now be able to go for Haj without having to depend on their luck in the qurrah — a lottery system to select the pilgrims.
Apart from this, the new decisions the government is putting in place will make pilgrims who were on the wait-list in the previous year automatic choices for the next year’s pilgrimage.
The decisions that come after consultations on Haj between external affairs minister SM Krishna and MPs belonging to the Muslim community will also do away with the discretionary Haj quota for the MPs. It will now follow the Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) formula— that’s two seats each for an MP.
Senior citizens will also be allowed to be accompanied by a person during the pilgrimage. The Haj good-will delegation had come under much criticism with MPs complaining of it being “non-representative, luxurious and doing little to the Haj”.
The government plans to streamline the team. To make it more representative, the team will consists of, among others, three MPs each from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, three scholars and three members representing mullahs and one from zonal haj committees.
Government is also thinking of asking the Saudi government to increase the Haj quota for this year by 6,000 people. Many MPs also spoke about the need to bring transparency in the committee that arranges for the accommodation of the pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
Two MPS each from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will be included in the building committee. In 2010, as per the bilateral agreement between India and Saudi Arabia, 1.64 lakh Indians went for Haj. Out of this 48,037 went through private tour operators and rest through the Haj committee of India. Indian Muslims constitute the second largest Muslim community in the world.