In a time like this when the entire globe is struggling with Corona Pandemic, Indians have come forward in their service for the country and countrymen. Under the prudent leadership and guidance of PM Narendra Modi, the nation is extolling the ancient Indian practice of charity through PM CARES Fund. It’s a quintessential part of Indian culture and tradition that has had called people of this country to serve with whatever they have (according to their ability and will) towards holistic betterment of the nation. The tradition that has cherished the idea of community belongingness where Kings see them as equal participants and where Praja find King one among them is ever embracing. This kindle trust has been based on the idea of service cum charity. When the nation cries, the countrymen give their shoulders to nourish it and this is what has been tendered through this noble initiative.
The setting up of a special fund- PM CARES Fund- for providing relief to those affected by COVID-19 has invited controversy after people questioned the need for a new fund when the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is already in existence.
The PM CARES, or the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, has been set up as a public charitable trust. The Prime Minister is the chairman of this trust and its members include Defence Minister, Home Minister And Finance Minister. The statement issued by the government previously justifies the setting up of the PM Relief Fund by saying that distress situations, whether natural or otherwise, demand expeditious and collective action for alleviating the suffering of those affected, mitigation/control of damage to infrastructure and capacities etc. It also says that the Prime Minister’s office has been receiving spontaneous and innumerable requests for making generous donations to support the government in the wake of this emergency. It’s a national call, call of mandate.
Where PMNRF is for all kinds of natural disasters, PM CARES fund is specially meant for COVID-19. In addition to that any spending from the Consolidated Fund of India needs to be passed by the Parliament, therefore, creation of a donation-based fund means that legislative hurdle is taken care of. This had to be done stringently and expeditiously.
On the one hand, where COVID-19 has impacted people nationwide and which calls for mass concern and service which is possible through PM CARES Fund, PMNRF, on the other, is meant to serve in general and that might also include causes in which public doesn’t want to. Therefore, PM CARES attaches a cause to it, i.e. serving COVID-19 sufferers. Everyone is feeling for this cause and asking for their participation. An earthquake in Malabar or a storm in Tsunami in Tamil Nadu is not something for which people would have same level of concern as that of a pan- India natural disaster like COVID-19. Hence, a separate fund for COVID-19 relief makes perfect sense.
Unlike PMNRF where minimum amount for donation is Rs 100, under PM CARES Fund, a person can contribute any amount he/she wishes to. In this way PM CARES Fund is open to micro donations. PM CARES fund undeniably reinforces the idea that during times of crisis or otherwise, every contribution is valuable. And hence we must do our bit and everyone must be encouraged for the contribution he/she has made. No contribution is trivial.
(The author, Vishal Kumar, is a Political Science graduate and is a final year Law student at the University of Delhi.)