JEDDAH/NEW DELHI: India has become the first country to make the entire process for pilgrims going on Haj completely digital, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday after signing the bilateral agreement for next year's pilgrimage with the Saudi Haj Minister in Jeddah.
An online application, e-visa, Haj mobile app, "e-MASIHA" health facility, "e-luggage pre-tagging" providing all information in India itself regarding accommodation and transportation in Mecca and Madina will be provided to 2 lakh Indian Muslims going for Haj in 2020, he said.
Naqvi made the remarks after signing the bilateral annual Haj 2020 agreement between India and Saudi Arabia with Haj and Umrah Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten.
He said for the first time facilities were provided for digital pre-tagging of pilgrims' baggage.
This will ensure the Indian pilgrims will get information in India itself about the building and the room allotted to them as well as the transportation details for travel after reaching the airport in Saudi Arabia, Naqvi was quoted as saying in a statement issued from his office.
Even the mobile phone SIM card has been linked to mobile App which will ensure pilgrims immediately get all the latest information regarding Haj in Mecca and Madina on their mobile phones.
This year, a 100-line information centre has been established at the Haj House, Mumbai for providing information regarding the entire Haj process. A health card is being provided to Indian Haj pilgrims in the country, Naqvi said.
E-MASIHA (E-Medical Assistance System for Indian Pilgrims Abroad), an online system to create and maintain the complete health database of Indian pilgrims along with doctors' prescriptions, medical treatment as well as medicine disbursal, has been developed to deal with any emergency in Mecca and Madina, Naqvi said.
"Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) have also been connected with 100 per cent digital system which has ensured transparency in their functioning and has also ensured better facilities to Indian Haj pilgrims," Naqvi said.
"A portal of HGOs http://haj.nic. in/pto/ (Portal for Haj Group Organisers) has been developed which contains all the details of HGOs and their packages," the minister said.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs has taken effective and successful steps during the last four years to make Haj and other programmes completely digital or online as a part of Digital India campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naqvi said.
Making the entire Haj 2020 process digital has helped in providing better facilities to people going for Haj and ensured transparency by eliminating middlemen, he said.
The minister said the Indian government - in coordination with the Saudi Arabian government, the Indian Consulate and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia - was working to ensure safety, better services and medical facilities for the pilgrims during the Haj.
In 2020, a total 2 lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj that too without any subsidy, he said.
Naqvi said that till November 30, 1.76-lakh haj applications, including 15,000 online applications from Jammu and Kashmir, had been received. The last date of submission of Haj application is December 5, 2019.
The Saudi Arabian government has always played an active and effective role to ensure safety and better facilities to Indian Haj pilgrims, Naqvi said, adding that it is a part of strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries.
India-Saudi Arabia relations have achieved newer heights under the leadership and guidance of gulf nation's King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prime Minister Modi, Naqvi said.
Both the countries share strong cultural, historical, economic and political relations, he said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's visit to India and Prime Minister Modi's visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019 have further strengthened relations between the two countries, the minister said. Naqvi thanked King Salman for his guidance and active support to make Haj 2019 successful.
Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed, Additional Secretary Ministry of Minority Affairs Jan-e-Alam, Consul General Mohd Noor Rehman Sheikh, Haj Committee of India Chairman Nabi Jinna Sheikh, Haj Committee of India CEO M A Khan and other senior officials were present on the occasion.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)