India to Discontinue Haj Subsidy

first_imgThe Government of India will be discontinuing the Haj pilgrimage subsidy from 2018, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed on Jan. 16.“This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Naqvi was quoted as saying by the Times of India.The funds that were used for the Haj subsidy will now be used for educational empowerment and welfare of girls from minority communities. The government is also going to offer two transport options now — air and waterways.The new policy seeks to rationalize distribution of the quota between Haj Committee of India and private tour operators in 70:30 ratio in the next five years. It also seeks to get rid of the cartel of contractors by inviting other contractors through a transparent bidding process.With the subsidy, thousands of Muslims from India were able to get cheaper air tickets to Saudi Arabia to go to Mecca. However, Saudi Arabia has now allowed waterways travel for Indians.“We believe in empowerment without appeasement,” Naqvi said, adding that 1.75 lakh Muslims would be going for the pilgrimage in 2018 since Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.“Muslims didn’t benefit from it. Development with dignity is what we believe in. The subsidy will be used for educating girls,” Naqvi said.The subsidy is being scrapped as per a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Center to abolish it gradually by 2022.“A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime, directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with (till 2022). Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually,” Naqvi had said earlier.In an effort to ease travel for Muslim women, the government had earlier said that women aged above 45 years can go on Haj in a group of four without any mehram — male relatives they cannot marry. Related ItemsIslamMeccaSaudi Arabialast_img read more

1st Modern Riverboat in US History American Song

first_img1st Modern Riverboat in U.S. History, American Song1st Modern Riverboat in U.S. History, American Song, Has Departed On Inaugural Cruise From New OrleansAmerican Song, the 1st modern riverboat in U.S. history, departed from the Port of New Orleans this past Saturday, October 6, 2018.  Underway at 100% capacity, this historic new riverboat is off to a great start and is cruising the Mississippi River on its 8-day inaugural sailing between New Orleans and Memphis.  American Song’s184 guests are enjoying an unforgettable cruise with stops at Oak Alley, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Natchez, and Vicksburg, arriving in Memphis Friday, October 12th.American Song is the first ship in American Cruise Lines’ new modern riverboat series—the 2nd ship in the series, American Harmony, is already well under construction and will be launched in a few weeks. American Cruise Lines is pleased to offer American Song and its new series of modern riverboats in addition to its current fleet of authentic paddlewheelers.After this week’s inaugural cruise, American Song will continue to cruise the Mississippi throughout 2018. In 2019, American Song will reposition out West to the Columbia & Snake Rivers and 2nd modern riverboat, American Harmony, will begin cruising the Mississippi.Equipped with every modern advancement, including a unique bow with a retractable gangway, American Song represents the historic evolution of American Riverboats. Showcasing gorgeous interior design elements, from a five-story glass atrium to spectacular spacious lounges, American Song inspires. Thoughtfully designed to bring the outside world in, American Song boasts sweeping views throughout the ship. With the largest staterooms in the industry, floor-to-ceiling glass doors, and private furnished balconies, American Song is the first ship of its kind available on U.S. Rivers.About American Cruise LinesAmerican Cruise Lines was recently awarded Cruise Critic’s 2018 Cruisers’ Choice Award for Best River Line in the U.S. & Canada.  American operates the largest and newest fleet of authentic paddlewheelers, coastal cruise ships, and the only modern riverboats in the U.S. With over 35 itineraries visiting 25 states, American cruises along the rivers, as well as the coastal and inland waterways of New England, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi River system, and the Southeast.Source = American Cruise Lineslast_img read more