Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was constituted by first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru way back in the year 1948 when Congress was the only dominating political party in the country with no sign of any other political party expected to ever unseat Congress from governance. As such PMNRF had Congress President as a permanent member of six-member committee. But with subsequent change in the political system, several non-Congress governments have ruled the country with the present BJP government led by Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister being the first non-Congress government coming to power at its own without needing any ally. As such it becomes a practical necessity that constitution of PMNRF committee may be suitably revised so that Congress President may be replaced by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. PMNRF has also one of its committee-members as Deputy Prime Minister, a post not necessarily being always existing. Therefore, PMNRF constitution should be to have a Union Minister nominated by PMNRF Chairperson who happens to be Prime Minister.
A representative from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) already exists in the original PMNRF committee. But original PMNRF constitution had a permanent nominee from Tata Trustees because Tatas were the leading-most industrial giant in the country at that time. To be fair to each industrial-group and to get added contribution to PMNRF, sixth seat for some particular industrial group should be decided through auction or tender every year whereby the industrial-group offering maximum contribution may become sixth committee-member of PMNRF abolishing monopoly of Tata Trustees in PMNRF.
PMNRF should be completely accountable to public under RTI Act for ensuring transparency especially in matter of grants made from PMNRF. It is observed that recommendations received from persons seated on high posts are considered on priority for grant from PMNRF. Likewise National Defence Fund (NDF) committee should also be reconstituted.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)