The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the dismal state of India's healthcare sector. We are struggling not only with the shortage of doctors, but also with the scarcity of quality protective gear and other necessary medical equipment.
A lot of money will go into improving the healthcare system of our country. And certainly, we, a nation of 130 crore people can fund this effort.
Recently, PM Modi created the PM CARES fund to enable citizens to contribute to government’s containment and relief efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak.
But do we really need such a fund? Don't we have enough money to invest in something as important as health infrastructure?
In October 2018, India unveiled the tallest statue in the world. Standing 182m tall, the statue cost the state exchequer a whopping ₹3000 crores.
Did the government create any fund to help build the Sardar Patel's statue?
If a nation that tops the world in hunger and malnutrition can afford to build a statue worth thousands of crores, it is surely not impossible for it to spend money towards containment of an outbreak as serious as COVID-19.
And that's not all. Our government's obsession with statues is not unknown. Estimates suggest that the total cost of statues recently built in India (including the ones to be built) is about ₹8119 crore.
Now that's an insane amount of money.
Average cost of one ICU-grade ventilator is around ₹7 lakh. Even if the government spends the same amount it did on the Sardar Patel statue, we can buy around 42,000 new ICU-grade ventilators.
Cost of an useless statue in India is ₹3000 Crore !!— Anubhab Maiti (@AnubhabMaiti100) March 30, 2020
Cost of a ventilator in India is approximately 6 Lakh !!
By now, we would have approx 50000 ventilators with it which is 10000 more than what India has at present !! Remember, whom we voted for 💔#PMCARES #COVID2019
According to some reports, India presently has 40,000 ventilators. Add the new 40,000 to them and our capacity will be doubled.
That's enough to up our game in the health sector. But apparently, the government doesn't have money to deal with the situation and that's the whole purpose of creating the new fund - PM CARES.
Avg. cost of ICU-grade ventilator = ₹7 lakh— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) March 23, 2020
No. of Indian MPs = 795 (LS 545 + RS 250)
Annual discretionary funds available to MPs = ₹3,975 crore (₹5 crore/MP)
No. of ventilators + staff + training MPs can fund (MLAs additional) = over 50,000@MVenkaiahNaidu@ombirlakota
Talk about the cost of PM Modi's foreign visits in last 5 years and you'll know how much money we have. According to reports, ₹446.52 crores were spent on his foreign trips from 2015-20.
Although, we the taxpayers, indirectly funded all his trips, we never had a dedicated fund for this expenditure. Then what's the need to ask for money to fight the coronavirus? Has the government suddenly run out of all the money?
Surely, it hasn't. Because just last month, the government spent close to ₹100 crores to host the US President Donald Trump on his first visit to India.
The government which spent millions of rupees on Trump's visit to india is asking for donations from people to fight against corona virus in india.— 𑀯𑀺𑀭𑀸𑀚 𑀓𑀤𑀫 (@MyselfViraj) March 30, 2020
Also, we have the PM National Relief Fund that has been in existence since January 1948. The purpose of this fund is to meet financial exigencies in the wake of disasters/calamities like COVID-19.
Reports suggest that the PMNRF has a balance of ₹3,800.44 crore. The fund is widely trusted by the citizens of this country and therefore creation of a new fund to fight the pandemic sowed the seeds of doubt in people's minds.
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.
This is important. Why not simply rename PMNRF as PM-CARES, given the PM's penchant for catchy acronyms, instead of creating a separate Public Charitable Trust whose rules & expenditure are totally opaque? @PMOIndia you owe the country an explanation for this highly unusual step. https://t.co/qRhX0T1PmB— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 30, 2020
It doesn't really make sense to create a new fund every time. Better and judicious utilization of existing resources and money can indeed help us fight the pandemic.
Our health infrastructure needs immediate improvement and it should be done as soon as possible without wasting time in collecting money.