Uttar Pradesh rides high on wings of MSMEs

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are...

NATO unable to act as Asia’s security provider

Among the more questionable actions of the...

Islamabad Court orders release of Ex-PM Imran Khan and his Wife

NEW DELHI: An Islamabad district and sessions...

India’s booming halal economy confronts a problem

Top 5India’s booming halal economy confronts a problem

NEW DELHI: India’s halal economy and its unique mode of certification could come under the government’s scanner because the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India issues similar certificates. “Why should there be two modes of certification?”, claim petitions made by various organisations to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The petitions further say this dual certification creates a serious issue of duplication. This reporter has seen some of the petitions made by various organisations to the Ministry. At the same time, others have been pointing to the need for government to ensure that the non-official certification agencies work in a manner independent of vested interests. They say that standards need to be maintained in the interests of tens of millions of users of halal items in India.
In India, halal certificates are issued by the Halal Council of India. Ministry officials, it is reliably learnt, are looking into the issue of whether a nation should have certification by two separate bodies, with the latter being wholly unsupervised. The other issue which the petition raises is that the FSSAI certifies food-related products, while the halal certification has stretched from meat products to food products, cosmetics, medicines, clothes, construction sites, apartments, incense sticks, camphor, and even stock market shares.
“Why should all companies be faced with a compulsion to do halal certification (through entirely unregulated agencies) on their products?,” the petition asks.
Sulibele Chakravarthy, a writer and founder of Sodari Nivedita Pratisthana of Karnataka, told this reporter that he petitioned the government to seek audited accounts of the sale of halal products. “Why are such accounts not audited like all other accounts? How can organisations charge certification rates of Rs 60,000 per product per year and yet not inform the government about the inflow and outflow of such cash?” Chakravarthy asked in an interview.
The petitioners have also asked the Income Tax Department under the Ministry of Finance to regulate activities of the organisations issuing halal certificates. The halal economy worldwide is worth a little over $2 trillion. In India, the halal economy is worth around $100 billion and growing rapidly. Ensuring safety standards has become an urgent issue of consumer interest. At the same time, the employment generated and income created within the country by the industry needs to be protected.
“The Finance Ministry must have the statistics of the total halal certificates distributed, total cash earned through such certificates and also the total number of products sold under halal certification,” says one of the petitioners. S. Bhaskaran, president of Vishwa Sanatan Parishat, says, “This is a divide created by those issuing halal certificates because this certification is coming from an unmonitored private authority. It is like operating a parallel counter to collect cash at the highway toll. It is basically pushing business in a single direction at the cost of competition,” Bhaskaran told this reporter.
Very recently, intelligence agencies claimed that a portion of the profit from sales of some halal products were used by a few for anti-India activities including bailing out Wahhabi jihadis facing serious criminal charges. It was widely reported in the national media.
Experts say in India, many find it hard to distinguish between Islamic banking (known by many as interest-free banking) and halal economics because both are deeply intertwined in practice. For over a decade or so, various countries have organised World Halal Research and World Halal Forum Summit. The summits have pledged to bolster acceptance of halal products worldwide through greater cooperation between the halal industry and the Islamic banking and finance sectors. It may be noted that several western nations also have similar systems that are operational. Two of the top three centres for Islamic (i.e. interest free) banking are New York and London.
Malaysia is a world leader in Islamic banking and finance, and the halal industry. Back in 1983, the first Islamic bank (the Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad) was established in Malaysia through the introduction of the Islamic Banking Act. Since the functioning of Islamic banks has thus far been governed by religious rather than secular laws, hence they are not recognised by a number of non-Islamic nations, including India.
The petitioners said some were promoting investments in the Halal Index series like the SAMI (Socially Acceptable Market Investments). As a result, Halal Food Indexes (a stock market index listing Sharia compliant companies) were gaining popularity. “All this happens exclusively through the Islamic banking and finance system. With this, a complete control is sought to be gained over the entire chain from production to consumer, world over. Such efforts have gathered tremendous support as well as momentum over the years, and we have informed officials of the Health and Finance Ministries,” said one of the petitioners, requesting anonymity.
One of the petitions says the ever-widening scope of the halal industry is evident with the following examples. Meat to vegetarian products have been certified. All vegetarian Haldiram namkeens (snacks) are now halal certified. The list includes dry fruits, sweets and chocolates.
From foodstuff to cosmetics, grains, oil, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, kajal (eyeliners), nail polish, lipstick and other cosmetics are now under the ambit of halal certification. Medicines, including Unani and Ayurvedic, and honey are now halal certified. Multinational food chains—McDonald’s burgers, Domino’s pizza—and food available in almost all airports is now halal certified. There are even halal apartment complexes: Kochi is now home to the country’s first halal certified apartment complex built as per Sharia regulations. The complex has separate swimming pools for men and women, separate prayer halls, washrooms that face away from Mecca, clocks alerting to namaz timings, facility to broadcast namaz into every house, among other modern amenities. Those in favour say that such dwellings would promote the housing industry and attract overseas buyers. There are also halal hospitals. Global Health City (Chennai, Tamil Nadu) is a halal certified hospital. They claim to meet international standards of hygiene and dietary regulations as per the tenets of Islam. There are numerous halal dating websites for singles to meet up and befriend each other. Now there are halal certified dating websites that do this in a Sharia compliant way, “Mingle” being one among them.
Halal stocks: There are over 1,250 Sharia compliant stocks.
Temple prasad: Sabarimala temple now has halal jaggery. Many welcome such a development as promoting harmony between faiths, but point out the certification needs to be done scientifically rather than getting carried out by those wholly unfamiliar with the technical details of the items they are certifying for consumption.
Ministry officials refused to comment on the case, saying only that they were “studying the petitions”. A senior policymaker said that care was needed because of sensitivities and economic potential, which those in favour of the practice say could be immense in India.

- Advertisement -

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles