Skip to main content

Haj wasn't the only subsidy, Govt of India must come clean on all religious spendings: Gujarat minority rights body

By Our Representative
Following the Government of India decision to stop Haj Subsidy to Muslims, a minority rights organization has, in a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, sought a white paper from the Government of India (GoI) on the types of subsidies being offered to different religious organizations.
Signed by Majuahid Nafees of the Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), Gujarat, the letter says that the NDA government progressively reduced the Haj subsidy ever since it came to power – it was Rs 750 crore two years ago, which came to down to Rs 250 in 2017-18. Yet, it adds, the whole effort is to bring about a “divide” communal divide by making it appear that only Muslims alone cornered all religious subsidies.
Objecting to the effort to paint stopping of Haj subsidy as a “big saving from wasteful expenditure”, MCC claims, how, a few years ago, the Kumbh festival in Allahabad carried a budget of Rs 1,150 crore, all funded by the Government of India. It recalls, in 2014, the UP government was accused of “misusing” Rs 800 crore of this amount
“Last year”, MCC says, “The Madhya Pradesh government spent Rs 3,400 crore, while the Central government spent Rs 100 crores for the Singhast Maha Kumbha in Ujjain.” It adds, “This apart, different governments spend huge funds for helping pilgrims visiting Badrinath, Kedarnath, Kailash Mansarovar, Amarnath and other spots.”
“Thus”, MCC says, “The Government of Madhya Pradesh gives a subsidy of Rs 50,000 for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra per passenger”.
Specifically referring to Gujarat, MCC says, the state government “has set up what is called Pavitra Yatra Dham Vikas Board for the “development” of 338 pilgrim spots across the state, even as providing a budgetary allocation of Rs 106.69 crore in 2017-18. It adds, “The state government runs a course to teach the rituals of Hinduism, funded by the state.”
Further pointing out that the present government of Uttar Pradesh has “begun programmes for the renovation and spiritual development of pilgrim spots of Kashi and Ayodhya, allocating Rs 800 crore”, MCC says, “The question arises whether one should focus on government spending on Haj pilgrims alone.”
“We believe that the state should not interfere in religious practices, which is a matter of personal choice”, MCC says, even as quoting from a Supreme Court judgement which says, “The relationship between man and God is an individual choice. The state is forbidden to have allegiance to such an activity … Mixing state with religion is not constitutionally permissible.”
It also quotes Article 27 of the Indian Constitution, which states, “No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.”
MCC also quotes from a Supreme Court order of 2011, Prafull Goradia v. The Union of India, pointing towards how religious funding “violates Article 27” of the Constitution. The order said, “In our opinion Article 27 would be violated if a substantial part of the entire income tax collected in India, or a substantial part of the entire central excise or the customs duties or sales tax, or a substantial part of any other tax collected in India, were to be utilized for promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.”
“In other words, suppose 25 percent of the entire income tax collected in India was utilized for promoting or maintaining any particular religion or religious denomination, that, in our opinion, would be violative of Article 27 of the Constitution”, the order added.
Asking Government of India to “come clean” on the issue, MCC has sought a white paper on whatever the Central government spends on religious pilgrims, festivals, meeting, places of worship so that the “country can know about how much the government is spending on the promotion of which religion.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.