The Dalai Lama has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his support to the measures being taken by India, within the country and among SAARC nations, to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The Tibetan spiritual leader also made a donation from his trust to the PM CARES Fund, created to enable people to contribute to the government's containment and relief measures against the COVID-19 outbreak. His staff members too donated a day's salary to the corpus, according to the Dalai Lama's office.
The Dalai Lama said the fund will provide "urgently needed assistance" to the people facing hardships due to an ongoing nationwide lockdown imposed to combat the virus.
In a letter to PM Modi on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama said, "I appreciate the enormous challenges that this crisis poses to the world community and the need for strict measures to be taken to meet them."
"I would like to thank you for the initiative that you have taken in partnership with other SAARC countries to set up an emergency fund and to exchange information, knowledge and expertise to tackle the spread of COVID-19. Such collaboration will also create a model for dealing with similar problems in the future," he wrote to the prime minister.
At an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15, PM Modi suggested that health professionals of the member nations could come together to jointly fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He also proposed setting up an emergency fund.
India has also proposed setting up of a common electronic platform for all SAARC nations to share expertise and best practices to jointly combat the spread of coronavirus.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Union Home Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to 32 and the number of total positive cases to 1,251 as on Monday 9.30 PM, up from 1,024 positive cases and 27 deaths as on Sunday evening. While there are more than 1,100 active cases, nearly 100 have been cured.
The Dalai Lama wrote, "As a token of my sympathy and support, I am making a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust to the PM CARES Fund set up to provide relief during crises such as this. I would also like to mention that members of my Office Staff would also like to contribute one day's salary to the Fund."
"As I have stated elsewhere, I understand that as a result of the necessary lock downs across the world, many people are facing tremendous hardship due to a loss of livelihood. For those with no stable income in particular, it is becoming very hard to make ends meet. I hope, therefore, that charitable trusts such as the PM CARES Fund will be able to provide these people with urgently needed assistance," he said.