The Hajj


Well, the irony of the whole thing hasnt been lost on anyone. Corruption in the ministry of religious affairs. That too, in facilitation of one of the five pillars of faith. The dust hasnt settled on what quite happened in the scam involving the Hajj but the barbs have started flying. What is interesting is the quarters from where the accusations have started. Far from the usual routine of the opposition grilling the government on the matter, most of the infighting is within the treasury benches. Senator Azam Swatis tirade against the religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi is a bit odd. Though the latter appears to be guilty either of gross mismanagement or gross corruption, it is strange for another cabinet member to be firing the first salvo; the concept of collective ministerial responsibility is very much alive in countries that follow the parliamentary system. Perhaps our politicians need to be tutored in the nuances of governance. If questioned, the minister of railways, for instance, has to answer as best as he can, on a matter pertaining to the ministry of defence production, even if it is to defer.

Moving from the immaturity of the political class, we should look at the serious lack of control over the bureaucracy. It was not becoming of our ambassador to Saudi Arabia to give a statement trashing the ministry of religious affairs in the manner that he did. The fallout, more than the incident itself, shows the government doesnt really have its act together.

Moving on from the corruption (or mismanagement or both, take your pick) of this time, perhaps the whole process can be reviewed as well. The Indonesians seem to have a more efficient, lean, minimalist system, despite dealing with comparable numbers. Perhaps, continuing with the less-is-more model of management, we could review the utility of having a ministry of religious affairs in the first place.