SunstarTV Bureau: The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has presented the 76th Union Budget on Monday at 11 am in Parliament. The first time in Budget session, Sitharam has ditched the Swadeshi ‘Bahi Khata’ and switched to ‘Made in India’ tablet.
Since independence, the country has seen a total 75 budgets, including interim budgets.
The glimpse about the history of India’s Union Budget should be known by every Indians. Here is the brief insight into the history of Union Budgets in India.
The first ever Indian Budget was presented by James Wilson, whose designation was Finance Member of the India Council, on February 18, 1869, before the Independence. He advised the proposal to the Indian Viceroy, who was also the founder of The Economist and described by Karl Marx as an “economical mandarin of high standing”.
After the independence, the first Union Budget of was presented by the first Finance Minister of Independent India, Sir R.K. Shanmugham Chetty, on November 26, 1947.
The first Union Budget was presented amidst widespread riots due to the partition of India. This budget was meant for seven and a half months, following which the next budget was to be implemented from April 1, 1948. It was the first Union Budget wherein it was decided that both India and Pakistan would share the same currency till September 1948.
Finance minister RK Shanmukham Chetty presented the first budget of Independent India. Total expenditure under the budget was earmarked at Rs 197.39 crore, out of which approximately Rs 92.74 crore (or 46 percent) was allocated for Defence Services.
Post the resignation of Sir Chetty, the responsibility ultimately was passed on to John Mathai, who presented the subsequent Union Budgets of 1949-50 and 1950-51. The budget of 1949-50 was the first instance of a budget being prepared for a United India, including all princely states.
The Union Budget documents are treated with utmost secrecy, because any leak in official figures can have catastrophic effects. These documents are treated with so much secrecy that even the Finance Minister is not authorized to keep the Blue Sheet. The Union Budget is prepared on the basis of data and key numbers in the Blue Sheet. Only the Joint Secretary (Budget) is allowed to keep this important sheet.
Until 1950, all important budget papers were printed inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan premises. However, an imminent data leak left the government with no option but to shift the process to a government-operated press in Minto Road till 1980. Post 1980, the printing of budget papers is done in a basement in the North Block, where the Finance Ministry is located.
The Halwa Ceremony is a famous ritual, which marks the start of the printing of the budget documents. Understandably, officials who are directly in contact with the budget papers and data are locked down in the basement of the North Block. The Halwa ceremony marks the lockdown of the Finance Ministry. In this premise, even the Finance Minister is not allowed to carry a mobile phone.
Some of the lesser known facts of the Union Budget:
- The Railway Budget of the country has always been introduced as a separate budget for the past 92 years till the year 2017, which saw the merger of the railway budget into the Union budget.
- Indira Gandhi was the only woman Finance Minister who was also the Prime Minister while presenting the budget.
- The present government has shifted the budget announcement from the last working day of February to the first working day of February.
- Indian Media termed the Union Budget of India for the year 1997-98, as the “Dream Budget” because it was the road map for economic reforms in India including dropping of income tax rates, removal of the surcharge on corporate taxes, and reduced corporate tax rates.
- The Budget of the financial year 1973-74 is known as the “Black Budget” as the nation had a deficit of Rs550cr.
(Sources: Wikipedia/News sources)