PM Cares set up for coronavirus relief, but PMNRF exists since 1948
There has been a Prime Minister’s fund for emergencies since 1948, and its purpose has been the same as that of the just-announced PM Cares. In other words, we now have two funds for the same purpose.
There has been an announcement for a special fund called PM CARES to fight the coronavirus outbreak and people are being asked to donate generously to it. But, as it happens in India, this may just a larger bureaucratic maze. For, there has been a Prime Minister’s fund for emergencies since 1948, and its purpose has been precisely this.
In other words, we now have two funds for the same purpose. Let us see what their mandates are.
The news service division of All India Radio posted the following at 9.01 am on March 29: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the constitution of the PM's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund. This will be 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.”
“Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust and its Members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister. Citizens and organisations can go to the website pmindia.gov.in and donate to PM CARES Fund,” the release added.
Why is https://t.co/HraIZX5Hfy not used and a personal branding named fund being used for this? PMNRF has receipt generation, in existance for ages. PM-CARES attempts at profiting out of disaster. #DisasterPayments https://t.co/Dc9QzHnKFH— Srikanth ஸ்ரீகாந்த் (@logic) March 28, 2020
“This fund will enable micro-donations allowing a large number of people will be able to contribute with the smallest of denominations. Donations to this fund will be exempted from income tax under section 80(G). Mr. Modi has always believed and shown in actions that public participation is the most effective way to mitigate any issue and this is yet another example.”
“In a series of tweets, Prime Minister said, people from all walks of life have expressed their desire to donate to India’s war against COVID-19. He appealed to the people to contribute to the PM-CARES Fund. Prime Minister said, this will go a long way in creating a healthier India. He said, this fund will also cater to similar distressing situations, if they occur in the times ahead,” the release said.
“Mr Modi has said that every single contribution in the PM- CARES Fund matters and there is nothing big or little. Reacting to the enthusiastic response of the people, he said that it shows our collective resolve to defeat COVID-19. In response to a student's contribution, Mr Modi said, the future of the nation is ensuring the nation’s future.”
For those wishing to donate, the release added, the account number for the PM CARES fund is 2121PM20202 with IFSC code SBIN0000691. The SWIFT code is SBININBB104 and the UPI id is pmcares@sbi.
“People can also donate to the fund on pmindia.gov.in using UPI, Net Banking, RTGS, NEFT and debit and credit cards,” it said.
The JSW group responded by contributing Rs. 100-crore for the fund. Individuals like cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir, designer Sabyasachi, celebrities Varun Dhawan, Karan Johar, and Ayushmaa Khurana also pledged funds for PM Cares.
But, one does not know what will happen to the existent Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund set up in 1948.
One can google it to reach its website.
“In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots,” the website says.
“Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc. The fund consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support. The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies. Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister.”
Thread ????— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) March 29, 2020
The new PM-CARES Fund is eerily similar to "Bharat Ke Veer" fund set up last year after Pulwama attack.
There's no transparency on how that fund was spent. Akshay Kumar founded the trust (later taken on by MHA) & it claims "prominent ppl" decide how it's spent.
It adds, “PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament. The fund is recognized as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes. PMNRF operates from the Prime Minister’s Office, South Block, New Delhi-110011 and does not pay any license fee. PMNRF is exempt under Income Tax Act, 1961 under Section 10 and 139 for return purposes. Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on honorary basis.”
It says that PMNRF accepts only voluntary donations from individuals and institutions. In 2018-19, the PMNRF collected Rs. 534.22-crore as voluntary donations.
The website offers details as to how contributions can be made: “Contributions towards PMNRF can be made:-
(a) At Prime Minister's Office, South Block, in cash and through postal order, cheque or demand draft drawn in favour of the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and through BHIM App/UPI (VPA : pmnrf@centralbank) .
(b) Contributions can also be sent to Prime Minister's Office, South Block, New Delhi via post/money order from any of the Post Offices, without any charges.
(c) Contributions can also be made online through the collection banks portals and through portal of PMO i.e. pmindia.gov.in.
(d) Through cash, cheque or demand draft drawn in favour of the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund deposited with any of the branches of the 26 designated Collection Banks of the PMNRF, mentioning donor details in the challan to be provided by the concerned bank/ branch.
(e) No charges will be levied by the network providers' viz. American Express, Diners Club International, Master Card, NPCI and VISA on the contributions being made through debit / credit cards.”
A call made to the designated number of the PMNRF went unanswered.