New Haj Policy:
The ministry of Minority Affairs has announced a new Haj policy under which the application forms have been made available for free and the package cost per pilgrim has been reduced by Rs 50,000.
- The reduction of Rs 50,000 comes primarily in the form of relaxation of norms for foreign currency ,earlier a Haj pilgrim had to submit the equivalent of 2,100 Saudi Riyal, amounting to approximately Rs 44,000, that was submitted to the Haj Committee for foreign exchange.
- The Hajj is a religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia that is mandatory for all able-bodied Muslims who can afford it.
- It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is considered a central part of Muslim religious life.
- Ministry of Minority Affairs is the nodal ministry to conduct Haj pilgrimage in India.
- Haj pilgrimage for the Indian Pilgrims is conducted either through Haj Committee of India (HCoI), which is a statutory organization under the administrative control of Ministry of Minority Affairs or through the Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) dully approved by Ministry.
- Also, the Hajj pilgrimage is promoted by various religious organizations, Islamic cultural centers, and other government agencies.
- India signed the Haj 2023 bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia.
- According to the agreement, a total of 1,75,025 Indian Haj pilgrims will be able to perform Haj, reportedly the highest in history.