Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced the launch of a new fund to combat the coronavirus crisis and similar situations arising in the future, instantly drawing a flood of pledges including one of Rs 25 crore from Bollywood star Akshay Kumar.
Called the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund or PM CARES, the fund will see the Prime Minister as the chairman of the trust and its members will include the Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.
"The spread of coronavirus has been alarming and is posing severe health and economic ramifications for our country. 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," the government said in a statement.
"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, a public charitable trust under the name of 'Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund' (PM CARES Fund)' has been set up," it added.
People from all walks of life expressed their desire to donate to India's war against COVID-19.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 28, 2020
Respecting that spirit, the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund has been constituted. This will go a long way in creating a healthier India.
It is my appeal to my fellow Indians,— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 28, 2020
Kindly contribute to the PM-CARES Fund. This Fund will also cater to similar distressing situations, if they occur in the times ahead. This link has all important details about the fund. https://t.co/enPvcqCTw2
Among the first to pledge a donation on Twitter were actor Akshay Kumar and cricketer Suresh Raina.
This is that time when all that matters is the lives of our people. And we need to do anything and everything it takes. I pledge to contribute Rs 25 crores from my savings to @narendramodi ji's PM-CARES Fund. Let's save lives, Jaan hai toh jahaan hai. 🙏🏻 https://t.co/dKbxiLXFLS— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) March 28, 2020
It's time we all do our bit to help defeat #COVID19. I'm pledging ₹52 lakh for the fight against #Corona (₹31 lakh to the PM-CARES Fund & ₹21 lakh to the UP CM's Disaster Relief Fund). Please do your bit too. Jai Hind!#StayHomeIndia@narendramodi@PMOIndia@myogiadityanath— Suresh Raina🇮🇳 (@ImRaina) March 28, 2020
The announcement of the fund comes amid widespread criticism of the government's abrupt announcement of a lockdown - two months after the global outbreak - that has triggered a huge crisis for migrant workers and people who live on daily incomes.
To stop the spread of the highly-contagious COVID-19 disease, the government has banned all activity except essential ones and asked people to stay at home to observe social distancing.
With all public transport stopped, many left without food, shelter and income have been forced to undertake journeys for hundreds of kilometres on foot.