Women may be able to go on Haj without males
If the Minority Affairs Ministry accepts a panel's recommendations, women above 45 years of age may soon be able to go on Haj without males. If approved, it will be another significant victory for gender parity among Muslims after the SC ban on triple talaq. The review committee has made more suggestions for a New Haj Policy, including phasing out subsidies to pilgrims.
What does the current policy say?
Under the current policy, women aren't allowed to go to Haj without a 'mehram'- a male escort unmarriageable by relation. A quota (200) is kept for women whose "only mehram" has been chosen for Haj but she couldn't complete formalities on time. Under the new policy, women have to travel in groups of four or more. Sects can decide whether to use the option.
What else has been recommended?
The committee has suggested reducing the number of embarkation points to nine, increasing quota for mehram travelers from 200 to 500, and that of J&K pilgrims from 1,500 to 2,000. It wants a "robust panel" for processing of applications. Ratio of those traveling under the Haj Committee's ambit and through private operators should be fixed at 70:30. The recommendations might be implemented from 2018.