PM CARES new trustees
The PM CARES Fund, set up to deal with emergencies such as the Covid pandemic, saw its corpus grow nearly three-fold to Rs 10,990 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal | File Photo: PTI

Ratan Tata, Justice Thomas among others to join as trustees of PM CARES Fund

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the people for contributing wholeheartedly to the PM CARES Fund as he chaired its meeting which was also attended by newly-nominated trustees Justice K T Thomas, former deputy Lok Sabha speaker Kariya Munda and Ratan Tata, the the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) said on Wednesday.

Modi chaired a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the PM CARES Fund on Tuesday during which a presentation was made on the various initiatives undertaken with the help of the fund, including the PM CARES for Children scheme which is supporting 4,345 children, a statement issued by the PMO said.

The meeting was attended by PM CARES Fund trustees Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Newly nominated trustees — Justice Thomas, former Supreme Court judge; former deputy Lok Sabha speaker Munda and Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons — also attended the meeting.

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PM welcomes new trustees

The Prime Minister welcomed the trustees for becoming an integral part of the PM CARES Fund. The trustees appreciated the role played by the fund at a crucial time for the country. Prime Minister Modi appreciated the people of the country for contributing wholeheartedly to the PM CARES Fund, the statement said.

It was discussed that PM CARES has a larger vision on effectively responding to emergency and distress situations, not only through relief assistance, but also taking mitigation measures and capacity building, it said.

The trust also decided to nominate some eminent persons for constitution of advisory board to the fund, including former Comptroller and Auditor General of India Rajiv Mehrishi; former Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy; Co-founder of Teach for India Anand Shah and former CEO of Indicorps and Piramal Foundation.

Wider perspective

Prime Minister Modi said the participation of new trustees and advisors will provide wider perspective to the functioning of the PM CARES Fund, according to the statement. He said their vast experience of public life would impart further vigour in making the fund more responsive to various public needs.

The PM CARES Fund, set up to deal with emergencies such as the Covid pandemic, saw its corpus grow nearly three-fold to Rs 10,990 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal, while the disbursal rose to Rs 3,976 crore, according to the latest audited statement. The disbursal included Rs 1,000 crore for migrant welfare and over Rs 1,392 crore for procurement of Covid vaccine doses.

The fund was set up as a public charitable trust “keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected”.

Much in news

The PM CARES Fund had generated a lot of interest immediately after Prime Minister Modi announced its formation after the COVID-19 outbreak and appealed for donations, prompting several private firms, government bodies and individuals, including celebrities to donate money. A day’s salary was cut from employees cutting across sectors as contribution to the fund.

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It also created a controversy as some were of the opinion that the National Disaster Relief Fund and State Disaster Relief funds executed the same role as PM CARES Fund. Moreover, there have been complains on the lack of clarity about the status of the PM CARES Fund — whether is a government fund or a private fund.

In 2021, petitioner Samyak Gangwal, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan, through a petition had sought to declare PM CARES Fund a State under Article 12 of the Constitution and to direct the fund to disclose its audit reports on the PM CARES website periodically.

In support of his contention that the PM CARES Fund is a State, the petitioner said it was formed by the Prime Minister on March 27, 2020, for a noble purpose, that is, to extend assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency, the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. The trustees of the fund are the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister, and the Finance Minister, and immediately after the formation of the fund, the Centre through its high government functionaries, represented that the fund was set up and operated by the government

(With agency inputs)

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