Emulate Malaysian model, says Rahman Khan

Emulate Malaysian model, says Rahman Khan

INTERVIEW

Controversy and confusion have dogged the Haj subsidy in recent years. To overcome it, K Rahman Khan, former deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha who led the 35-member Indian goodwill delegation to Saudi Arabia in 2011, suggests that India should adopt the Malaysian model to facilitate a better Haj experience for devout Muslims.

The Supreme Court directive to phased out the Haj subsidy over a period of ten years has been generally welcomed by everybody. I suggest that we adopt the Malaysian model and have an independent financial institution to make arrangements for Haj,” Khan said in an interview to Khalid Akhter of  Deccan Herald.

Malaysia, in 1963 launched Lembaga Tabung Haji (The Malaysian Pilgrims’ Management Fund) to handle all the aspects related to making arrangements for Haj pilgrims of the country.

Besides being a Haj travel service, Tabung Haji, is also a non-banking Islamic savings institution set up under a Special Act of Parliament and comes under the direct control of Prime Minister’s Office in Malaysia.

In the course of time Tabung Haji, whose original purpose was to facilitate a smooth and honest service for Haj pilgrims, especially the rural and urban poor, who were hitherto ripped off by middlemen and travel operators, has been transformed into a modern non-banking “building society”.

Tabung Haji, having five million members, has invested the staggering savings of 7 billion dollars of its members in Islamic banks (it has an 18.53 per cent equity stake in Bank Islam Malaysia), technology companies, plantations, real estate and global services.

Earnings from these investments are used in facilitating the Haj pilgrimage by the institution.

Joint seminar

Khan, a four-time Rajya Sabha MP, said “India is organising a seminar on June 19 along with the Malaysian delegation from Tabung Haji to discuss and explore the possibilities of having that model in India”.

Asked if the Haj Committee of India could be converted into an independent financial organisation to sponsor Haj on the lines of Malaysian Tabung Haji, Khan said: “Yes it can be done. We can discuss and look at the possibilities.”

As of now, the Haj Committee of India, a statutory body to facilitate Haj pilgrims every year on behalf of the government, does not have much to do in the whole process, except shortlisting applications of intending Hajis and forwarding the selected ones to government.

A senior official of the Haj Committee said: “Our role has been reduced to that of a post office”.

On the Supreme Court questioning the utility of the practise of sending a goodwill delegation to Saudi Arabia, started way back in 1967, Khan said, “I fully agree with the apex court observation”.

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