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Why the Criticism on PM CARES Fund Holds No Water

PMNRF and PM Cares

Ever since the PM CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund Trust was formed in the backdrop of the unprecedented Corona crisis, the opposition has been trying to invent a controversy and sow a seed of doubt in the minds of the citizens. As the made in India ventilators purchased through PM CARES fund are making their mark in various hospitals, all criticisms are getting hard answers. PM CARES had allocated Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of 50,000 ventilators and according to some estimates this number is more than the number of all the ventilators brought into the system in all the years after the Independence.

While this should settle the debate, let’s also consider the main contention of the opposition to the PM CARE. They ask, when Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) instituted in 1948 was already there, why PM CARES.

PMNRF was created in 1948 to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. In the later stage, it was used to primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc and in many cases for the medical treatment of the needy also.

Thus, one can clearly see that the unprecedented situation like Covid-19 needed a separate fund for the focused effort and the PM CARES came into the picture.

So, here is the difference between PMNRF and PM CARES, which will help to get a clear picture.

PMNRF PM CARES Fund
Created by just an oral announcement made by the then PM on 24 January, 1948. Created as a Public Charitable Trust. The trust deed of PM CARES Fund was registered on March 27,2020.

 

Not specifically designed to public health emergency

 

·       According to appeal dated January 24, 1948, it was aimed at for any type of emergency relief of distress but to be especially used for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees from Pakistan who have come to India.

·        The resources can be utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc.

·        Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and for assistance to acid attack victims etc.

Specifically designed to health emergency

 

·       The provision for relief is to any kind of public health emergency or any other kind of emergency, calamity or distress, either man-made or natural, including the creation or upgradation of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities, other necessary infrastructure, funding relevant research or any other type of support.

 

·       To render financial assistance, provide grants of payments of money or take such other steps as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees to the affected population.

 

·       To undertake any other activity, which is not inconsistent with the above Objects.

 

Composition with political scope

 

1.     Prime Minister,

2.     President-Indian National Congress,

3.     Deputy Prime Minister,

4.     Finance Minister,

5.     Representative of Tata Trustees and

6.     A representatives of Industry & Commerce chosen by FICCI.

 

Composition within democratic norms, Scope to experts

 

1.     Prime Minister: Chairman (ex-officio)

2.     Defence Minister (ex-officio)

3.     Home Minister (ex-officio)

4.     Finance Minister (ex-officio)

 

The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees (Prime Minister) shall have the power to nominate three trustees to the Board of Trustees who shall be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration and philanthropy.

 

No provision of Advisory Board. Provision for the Advisory Board suited perfectly to deal with health emergency situation. The board provides for the selection of eminent persons not exceeding ten, from field of medical practitioners, healthcare professionals, academicians, economist and lawyers. The members of the Board shall act in a pro bono capacity.
Responsibilities of Trustees not defined. Responsibilities of Trustees have been clearly defined in the Trust deed.
Audited by Ms. Thakur, Vaidyanath Aiyar & Company, Chartered Accountants since its inception till 2017-18. M/s SARC & Associates will audit PM Cares fund. It must be noted that the same audit firm was appointed as auditor of PMNRF in April 2019, in order to comply the rule of periodic rotation.

As we can see that the PM CARES was necessary to address the present health emergency with provision of experts on the board, with a composition that leaves no ambiguity.

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