In a significant step, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia increased India’s Haj quota by 30,000 thus lifting the figure to 200,000 per year (from 170,000). This move will pave the way for more Indians to go for the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi kingdom.
Background: In 2018, Saudi Arabia increased India’s Haj quota by 5,000, while in 2017 it was increased by about 35,000. Last year government removed the Haj subsidy it provided to pilgrims undertaking Haj in the light of a Supreme Court order of 2012 and the same year government also allowed Muslim women to go on Haj without Mehram (means male companion), following which about 1,300 women went to Hajj without any male companion. They were exempted from lottery system.
Discussion: The issue related to India’s Haj quota was discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral talks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during ongoing G20 Summit in Osaka Japan.
India-Saudi Arabia: During the talks India discussed deepening cooperation in trade and investment, energy security and counter-terrorism with its invaluable strategic partner Saudi Arabia. Two leaders also spoke about need for greater tourism, more flights. Saudi Crown Prince also invited PM Modi to be one of the main guests at an International Conference in late 2019. The invitation was accepted by India.
Significance: This is the 3rd hike in past three years. When the Modi government first came to power in 2014, India’s Hajj quota was 136,000 which has now been increased to 200,000 per year. This enhanced quota means that India will send 2nd-highest number of pilgrims for Hajj after Indonesia i.e. 2 lakh Indians will have the opportunity to go for Haj.
It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, a city in Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia. It is the holiest city for Muslims.
Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for all belonging to Muslims faith and all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable have to carry out this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
Hajj pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or sometimes 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of Islamic calendar (which is a lunar calendar).