Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) which was initiated to fight Covid-19 in India registered a staggering $65,213,664 in foreign donations between 2019-2022.
The public charitable trust was set up to provide support and assistance of any kind relating to but not limited to a public health emergency. It received the highest foreign contributions, $6,03,14,895 ($60 mn) during the FY 2020-21 period compared to $48,89,787 ($4 mn) during FY 2021-22. Interest income derived during FY 2021-22 and FY 2020-21 were $17,75,970 and $12,52,287 respectively.
According to the latest audited receipt and payment accounts, the domestic voluntary contributions during FY 2021-22 amounted to $23,11,90,827. The donations registered a significant from FY 2020-21 where the fund raised $8,757,44,531.
Documents show that money from the fund has been disbursed to buy ventilators in Centre/State/Union Territories-run hospitals; toward the establishment and operating processes of two 500-bed makeshift COVID hospitals in Muzaffarpur and Patna, and 16 RT-PCR testing labs in 9 states and union territories.
These funds have also been used toward the procurement of 6.6 crores of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as funding toward the upgradation of two autonomous laboratories as Central Drug Laboratory (CDL) for the test and release of the vaccine. The full breakup of donations and disbursals is publicly accessible on the PM CARES website.
To celebrate the completion of eight years in office Prime Minister Modi released benefits under the PM CARES for Children Scheme in May 2022. Under the scheme, benefits were announced for children who lost both their mother and father during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PM said that funds will be available for those seeking an education loan for professional courses and higher education as well, apart from primary schooling.
Additionally, a monthly sum of $48 was announced to be provided to impacted children, through various schemes. A sum of $12,186 on attaining the age of 23 was announced for them, along with health coverage and emotional counselling for psychological and emotional support.
The PM CARES Fund has often been criticized by Modi’s detractors including his political rival Rahul Gandhi. In a Facebook post, Gandhi alleged that the money coming into the PM CARES Fund was taken by Modi, and no account of it was given by his government regarding the expenditure. “Neither anyone knows how much misuse has been done, nor has there been any visible positive effect of it,” said an excerpt from the post.