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Taxpayers pay for the HAJ Pilgrimage ?

Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
Just now read a Hindustan Times report. The News Item says : 
"SUBSIDY FOR HAJ RAISED: The Union Cabinet today okayed the enhanced subsidy
for Haj pilgrimage. The subsidy quantum has shot up from a mere Rs 10 crore
in 1994 to Rs 137.12 crore this year. The sharp rise in recent years is
attributed to the fixed fare of Rs 12,000 for each Haj pilgrim. 
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee,
approved the hiked subsidy without making any changes in the net air fare
for the pilgrims. Briefing mediapersons, Parliamentary Affairs Minister
Pramod Mahajan said as per estimates 72,000 pilgrims were to visit Mecca
this year as against 62,103 last year. Mr Mahajan said Air India will
utilise six aircraft on wet lease for transportation of the pilgrims. The
actual travel cost per head would be Rs 31,044 assuming that flights going
one way remain empty. 
While the air fare stays pegged at Rs 12,000, subsidy on each ticket had
risen from Rs 5,000 in 1994 to Rs 19,044 each this year. "
While offering subsidies or temporary tax incentives to domestic industries
and farming community to encourage their growth and productivity and make
them competitive in open world, or levying customs duty on things, cheap
import of which hurts local industry irreparably, can be argued as means
applied by all governments. However, offering subsidies and hiring planes on
tax-payer money so that some people can go on cheap and affordable HAJ
Pilgrimage is preposterous. 
How about subsidizing Pilgrimage for all Sikhs and sending a government
plane load full of Sikh people to Pakistan (I think it is Nankana Saheb), or
subsidizing Pilgrimage for Christians to visit Rome or Jews & Christians to
Jerusalem or Hindus to Char Dham?
This is not intended to hurt any religious community, however it is hard for
me to digest that Government of India hires Air India planes so that some
people can go on pilgrimage!
I am wondering what others at IPI think about issues like these. 
Umesh Tiwari

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