Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a new initiative to support children under the ‘PM-CARES for Children’ scheme who have lost both their parents or guardians to the coronavirus pandemic.
An affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on Tuesday by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) revealed that data of 9,346 children affected by the pandemic has been uploaded on the newly created Bal Swaraj portal. This includes data of 1,742 children who lost both parents, 7,464 now in a single-parent household and 140 have been abandoned from March 2020 to May 29, 2021.
However, Lallantop a digital news portal in a deliberate attempt to cast aspersions on the government’s intent, misrepresented data.
The portal attached Union Minister Smriti Irani’s Tweet from May 25 which said, “GOI is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child due to loss of both parents to Covid-19. From 1st April 2021 till 2:00 PM today, the State Governments & UTs across the country have reported 577 children whose parents succumbed to Covid-19.”
GOI is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child due to loss of both parents to Covid-19. From 1st April 2021 till 2:00 PM today, the State Governments & UTs across the country have reported 577 children whose parents succumbed to Covid-19.— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) May 25, 2021
While the Minister used the word ‘from’ April 01, 2021 the portal conveniently changed it to ‘till’ April 01, 2021 thereby claiming the numbers to be untrue.
It then went on to say that while the Union Minister claims only 577 children have been orphaned, the NCPCR data reveals over 1700 such children who have been identified which is a clear attempt to misinterpret data and Minister’s Tweet.
To justify, it quoted an unrelated news report by Dainik Bhaskar which unearthed the discrepancy reported in actual Covid-19 numbers in the state of Rajasthan and tried to put the blame of it on Centre.
NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo too called out Lallantop for indulging in misinformation and spreading fake news.
Don’t spread fake news on the basis of toolkits,Commission has specifically informed that data has been submitted by states from March 2020 to 29 may 2021. https://t.co/x8Xdbp0YYI— प्रियंक कानूनगो Priyank Kanoongo (@KanoongoPriyank) June 1, 2021
He specified that the commission had specifically informed that the data submitted by the states is from March 2020 to 29th May 2021.
Lallantop has still not corrected the report
PM CARES for Children Scheme
According to a statement released by the Prime Minister Office, PM CARES Fund will contribute to a specially designed scheme to raise a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches the age of 18.
For children under 10, children will receive free school education in government schools, along with free uniforms, textbooks and notebooks.
The children between the age of 11 to 18 will be provided with an option by the central government. They could either enroll themselves in any Central Government residential school such as Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc, or they can take admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar if the child wishes to live under the care of Guardian/ grandparents/ extended family.
For teenagers seeking higher education, the central government will assist them in obtaining education loans for Professional courses / Higher Education in India as per the existing Education Loan norms.
There is also a provision of Health Insurance for children who have lost both their parents or guardians under the new scheme. All children will be enlisted as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of ₹5 lakhs. The premium amount for these children till the age of 18 years will be paid by PM CARES.