A look at Budget Session’s journey in independent India

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New Delhi: The history of India’s budget sessions is worth remembering as Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman prepares to present the 2022-23 budget on February 1. The events are quite interesting and many key and historical changes have been observed. The tradition of budget presentation in India started in 1860 under British rule.

Since the country’s independence in 1947, there have been many interesting and historic changes in the way the budget is presented, its timing, date and language.

Let us review the journey of the budget in independent India.

* First budget of independent India.

After India gained independence on August 15, 1947, the first budget of independent India was presented on November 26, 1947 by the then Minister of Finance, RK Shanmukham Shetty. He was also a lawyer and an economist. He had no tax proposal. Only a period of 7 months was covered.

* Finance Minister who had the budget printed in Hindi for the first time.

CD Deshmukh, India’s third finance minister, is credited with making several historic changes to the budget.

It was under the tenure of Deshmukh, who took charge of the Ministry of Finance from 1951 to 1957, that for the first time a copy of the budget was printed in English as well as Hindi.

Previously, the budget copy was printed in English only.

Along with this, Deshmukh is also known as the finance minister who made major changes in the methods, nature and objectives of the budget.

It was during his tenure that five-year plans were launched in the country and a plan to expose black money was also presented.

However, before him, the country’s second finance minister, John Mathai, had mentioned the Planning Commission and the Five-Year Plan in his 1949 budget.

* The first woman to present India’s budget.

The current Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, is a woman, but before her, another female leader presented India’s budget in Parliament.

Indira Gandhi was the first woman to present India’s budget to parliament.

In 1969, Indira Gandhi, then prime minister, removed the finance ministry from Morarji Desai, deputy prime minister, and became finance minister in her own government.

Angered by this, Morarji Desai resigned from the Indira cabinet.

In such a political situation, besides being prime minister, Indira Gandhi who also handled the finance ministry, presented the budget in 1970 and with that, she became the first woman to present the budget.

Although the record holder of presenting the budget to parliament as prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru had made a name for himself before him in 1958.

* Minister of Finance who presented the budget most often

Morarji Desai holds the record for presenting the most budgets in the country.

Desai, the country’s former prime minister and deputy prime minister, who served as finance ministry in the government of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, holds the record for presenting the largest budget 10 times.

Of these, he presented 8 times the annual general budget and 2 times the interim budget.

* Minister of Finance who put India on the path to liberalization through economic reforms

In 1991, the Congress-led government had come to power in the Center, and it was the first Congress government in independent India whose prime minister was not from the Nehru-Gandhi family.

PV Narsimha Rao made Manmohan Singh his finance minister and the budget presented by Singh in 1991 during the time of economic crisis later proved to be a milestone in the history of Indian economy.

Manmohan Singh introduced economic reforms, started abolishing ‘licence raj’ and during his tenure, India was seen racing fast on the path of liberalisation.

* Minister of Finance who changed the timing of the presentation of the budget

The trend of tabling the budget in India started during the British period, so he had also fixed the time of tabling the budget in the Indian Parliament according to his country’s parliament.

When it’s 11 a.m. in London, it’s 5 p.m. in India. That is why, the British government used to present the budget to the Parliament of India at 5 p.m. in order to tell the budget of India to its MPs at 11 a.m.

Even after the country’s independence, for many decades the budget was only presented to the Lok Sabha at 5 o’clock in the evening.

But under the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then finance minister Yashwant Sinha changed the time of budget presentation and for the first time in the country’s history presented the budget in the day instead of 5pm in 1999, and since then this tradition has been followed and done.

Current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will also present the budget in the Lok Sabha on Feb. 1 at 11 a.m.

* Minister of Finance who changed the date of presentation of the budget

During the first term of the government led by Narendra Modi, a major change was made in the date of the presentation of the budget.

In 2017, the then (late) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the budget to parliament on the first date instead of the last date of February and since then the budget is presented on February 1 every year .

Under Jaitley’s tenure, the railways budget was also included in the general budget, ending the 9-decade tradition.

* India’s first female finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman

Although Indira Gandhi was the first female minister in charge of the finance ministry, which introduced the budget in 1970, the record of becoming the country’s first full-time female finance minister is in the name of Nirmala Sitharaman .

Sitharaman will present his fourth budget on February 1. But apart from being the first female finance minister, many such records have also been registered in her name, thanks to which she also joined the list of finance ministers who made historic changes in the budget.

Sitharaman changed another tradition of British times by presenting the budget in a briefcase or suitcase.

She went to Parliament in 2019 with budget documents in a red cloth bag instead of a briefcase.

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, a fully dematerialized digital budget was presented to Parliament for the first time in 2021.

This year, the tradition of printing the copy of the budget has stopped.

With this, Sitharaman became the first finance minister in the country to present the budget from tabs instead of books and papers.

This time too, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present a fully dematerialized digital budget.

This 2022-2023 budget session will also be remembered for not having a “Halwa ceremony”.

Indeed, before the budget, a “Halwa Ceremony” was traditionally organized every year at the Ministry of Finance, but this time due to the threat of Covid-19 and its new variant Omicron, the Halwa Ceremony was not organized. .

This time, instead of halwa, sweets were served to employees.

The record for the longest speech in the history of the budget presentation to date is also recorded in the name of current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

During the budget presentation at the Lok Sabha in 2020, she achieved a new record by delivering a speech of 2 hours 41 minutes. Previously, this file was registered in the name of Jaswant Singh, another finance minister in the NDA government.

In 2003, Jaswant Singh delivered a 2 hour 13 minute speech while presenting the budget as Minister of Finance in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by Sambad’s English staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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