Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas and former deputy Lok Sabha speaker Kariya Munda have been nominated as trustees of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Union home minister Amit Shah and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman are the other two trustees.
The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the Board of Trustees of PM CARES Fund, and discussed that the initiative has a larger vision on effectively responding to emergency and distress situations.
The “Prime Minister welcomed the trustees for becoming an integral part of the PM CARES Fund,” the statement by PMO said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the trustees also decided to nominate former Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi, former Infosys Foundation chairperson Sudha Murthy, and Teach for India co-founder Anand Shah on an advisory board of the Fund.
The PM CARES Fund was created as part of emergency relief measures during the Covid-19 pandemic that broke out in 2020. It is registered as a Public Charitable Trust. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairperson and all contributions are fully exempt from Income Tax.
HT reached out to Ratan Tata’s office and Munda, who was elected as deputy Lok Sabha speaker in 2009, for a comment on their nominations but could not get one immediately.
Thomas, 85, who served as a judge in the top court from 1996 to 2002, said he had earlier informed the PMO that it would be difficult for him to physically attend meetings in New Delhi due to age-related issues but agreed when the Prime Minister assured him that the conferences would be held online.
“Initially, I said it would be difficult for me to be present in Delhi physically at this age. He (PM Modi) said the meeting will be online. I also expressed my concerns over language. If the meetings are held in Hindi, I will find it difficult to communicate being a south Indian. He assured me that the meetings will be in English,” Thomas said.
“One of the agenda was the creation of an advisory body and names were suggested by the PMO itself. We approved three names,” Thomas said.
“Prime Minister said that participation of new Trustees and Advisors will provide wider perspectives to the functioning of the PM CARES Fund. Their vast experience of public life would impart further vigour in making the fund more responsive to various public needs,” the PMO’s statement said.
Meanwhile, PM Modi, during the meeting, appreciated the people of the country for contributing wholeheartedly to the PM CARES Fund. The “Trustees appreciated the role played by the fund at a crucial time for the country”, including the PM CARES for Children scheme which is supporting 4,345 children, the statement said.
The scheme was launched on May 29 last year to support children who lost both their parents, legal guardians or adoptive parents to the Covid-19 virus.
“Out of ₹14,000 crore that was available in the fund, a huge amount was spent during the Covid-19 pandemic. The exact amount was shown during the discussion… The balance available in the fund now is around ₹8,000 crore,” Thomas said.