Hyderabad: With a record number of two lakh pilgrims from India set to perform Haj this year, efforts are on to organize the required manpower for the biggest man management exercise undertaken by India outside its border, officials said.
The Ministry of Minority Affairs will depute 638 officials to the Consulate General of India in Jeddah while the Consulate General will engage an equal number of personnel temporarily.
With Saudi Arabia increasing India's Haj quota by 25,000, the highest ever number of Indians will perform Haj this year. This number will be next only to Indonesia's 2.31 lakh including an increase of 10,000 this year.
It was in February during the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India that an increase in India's Haj quota was announced. This was the third hike in as many years.
Saudi Arabia on April 18 issued formal orders after which the Minority Affairs Ministry began arranging necessary manpower.
The Ministry has decided that out of the additional 25,000 quota, 15,000 will be allotted to Haj Committee of India (HCOI) and 10,000 to Private Tour Operators (PTOs). Thus, 1.40 lakh pilgrims are expected to come through HCOI and 60,000 through PTOs, India's newly appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed told IANS.
The number of deputationists include coordinators (7), doctors (168), Assistant Haj Officers (62), paramedics (185) and Haj Assistants (216). The Ministry's Haj Division is conducting the selection/interview process to select the officials working in the central government, state governments, union territory administrations, central and state public sector undertakings and autonomous bodies.
The period of deputation is normally 2-3 months to render administrative and medical assistance to Indian Haj pilgrims.
During Haj 2018, a total of 597 deputationists were sent to Council General of India, Jeddah.
In addition, the Consulate also engages about 600 personnel temporarily during Haj under Haj Man Month (HMM), Sayeed said.
Haj 2019 season will be from July 4 to September 14, 2019. The core Haj period will be from August 8 to 14 when millions of Muslims from around the world perform Haj rituals in Mecca and nearby holy sites.
"This is the biggest number which we will be sending any time in the history. This is a man management challenge. This is the biggest man management exercise undertaken by India outside the Indian border," said Ambassador.
"Within India we have huge gatherings like Kumbh Mela but we can still manage because our resources will be within our own hands. This is on foreign soil. We have to coordinate with different multiple agencies within Saudi Arabia and also agencies back home. It is a challenging task."
Sayeed, who served as Consul (Haj) in Jeddah in 1995-96, pointed out that the manpower had never been an issue as the Indian government takes care of this through deputationists.
"The government always caters to required number of deputationists. Senior officers from different state governments and central departments come there. They include doctors and paramedics. Medicines are also sent in huge numbers," said Sayeed, who was also Consul General in Jeddah from 2004 to 2008.
Officials in Haj Committee said that with the increase in Haj quota this year, all the applicants from states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Tripura will go on Haj.
For Haj 2018, the Haj Committee had received over 3.55 lakh applications from across the country and 1.75 lakh were selected. Haj applications this year are estimated to be in the same range.