Indian state will subsidize Christian Pilgrimages into Holy Land    2008/02/13
Source: The Economic Times

India's southern Andhra Pradesh state has announced plans to subsidize pilgrimages by Christian residents to the Holy Land.

The new state policy is regarded as an effort to mollify Christians, in light of the existing state policy that provides support for Indian Muslims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. In 2007, India's Supreme Court overruled a lower court order and allowed the federal government to continue its decade-old practice of subsidizing Muslims' annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The federal government spent over $101 million subsidizing the Hajj pilgrims for 110,000 Muslims last year.

The governor of Andhra Pradesh, N. D. Tiwari declared in the state legislature that the state has "decided to extend the Hajj pilgrim scheme to Christian minorities also for their religious visits to the Christian Holy Lands in Israel-Palestine."

Christians comprise about 1.5 % of Andhra Pradesh's 80 million people.

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