New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a slew of measures, from schooling to early career support, to help children orphaned by the pandemic as he chaired a meeting on Covid relief.
Launching a specially designed scheme named PM CARES For Children, Modi said a corpus of ₹10 lakh will be allocated to each of these children from the PM CARES fund. The PM also assured complete financial support of the education of such children till they turn 18 years.
“PM CARES will contribute… to create a corpus of ₹10 lakh for each child … This corpus will be used to give a monthly financial support/ stipend from 18 years of their age, for the next five years … and on reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.
According to the government, at least 577 children were orphaned due to the second wave of Covid in India from April 1 to May 25.
The statement added that children less than 11 years of age will be given admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as day scholars and the fees, expenditure on uniform, text books and notebooks will be borne by the PM CARES fund.
For children 11 to 18 years of age, it said that they can take admission in any central government residential school such as Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya, etc.
“In case the child’s education is to be continued under the care of Guardian/ grandparents/ extended family, then he or she will be given admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school… and PM Cares will pay for the expenditure…,” it added.
Earlier on May 19, Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Modi urging him to provide free education in Navodaya Vidyalayas to children whose parents died of Covid-19.
“I feel that as a nation, we owe it to them, to give them hope for a robust future after the unimaginable tragedy that has befallen them,” she wrote.
Regarding the higher education of these children, the PM’s office said that the government will assist them in easily obtaining study loans, the interest on which will be paid from the PM CARES fund.
It also added that as an alternative, scholarship equivalent to the course fees for undergraduate/vocational courses will be provided to such children under central or state government schemes. “For children who are not eligible under the existing scholarship schemes, PM CARES will provide an equivalent scholarship,” the statement said.
At the meeting, it was also decided that all such children will be enrolled as beneficiaries under the government’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of ₹5 lakh, the premium of which will be paid from the PM CARES fund till they reach 18 years of age.