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In A First, India To Take Donations From Abroad In COVID Fight: Sources

In A First, India To Take Donations From Abroad In COVID Fight: Sources

Officials say the focus is on making sure Indians stranded abroad are taken care of by embassies

New Delhi:

In a departure from practice, sources say the Indian government has decided to accept overseas donations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's special fund set up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic is unprecedented. When the Prime Minister spoke to heads of missions he asked them to make efforts so that contributions are made to the PM-CARES fund. A decision has been taken to accept donations from abroad," sources said.

"PM-CARES", a public charitable fund, was setup in view of several spontaneous requests from India and abroad for making generous contributions to support the government in its fight against COVID-19, sources said. In view of the interest expressed to contribute to the government's efforts, as well as keeping in mind the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, contributions to the trust can be done by individuals and organisations, both in India and abroad, sources added.

Many across the world have contributed to the fund including Mircrosoft CEO Satya Nadella's wife Anupama who donated Rs 2 crore to fight the deadly disease.

The Ministry of External Affairs had set up a special COVID-19 cell on March 16 to answer distress calls. Since then, sources say, they have received 3,300 calls and 2,200 e-mails from Indians around the world.

Officials say the focus is on making sure Indians stranded abroad are taken care of by embassies and consulates and that it is important for them to stay where they are for now.

India has evacuated 2,500 of its citizens from around the globe over the coronavirus crisis, while bringing back 1,600 citizens stranded in transit. India has been assisting foreign missions and 10,000 foreign nationals have left the country so far.

As part of efforts for a global, co-ordinated response, PM Modi has also spoken to the leaders of nine countries in the last few days including France, Russia, Qatar, Israel, the UK and Afghanistan and also attended a video conference of SAARC leaders.

The coronavirus crisis has shaken the country as well as the world. Over 1600 cases have been recorded in India and the highly contagious disease has affected 7.5 lakh people globally. To tackle the virus, Prime Minister Modi shut down the country on March 24 midnight and grounded all flights.