Historically, budgets fall in two buckets: those that are situational—dominated by an unravelling challenge and, hence, largely reactionary—and the few out-of-the-box essays seeking to reset the economic agenda. Mint picks 10 budgets that stand out for one or the other of these reasons.

The first Union budget of the Republic of India was presented against the backdrop of India adopting its Constitution in January 1950. It was overwhelmed by the legacy of economic devastation of 200 years of colonial rule as well as the aftermath of a bloody partition.

■ The Planning Commission had then PM Jawaharlal Nehru as chairman and Gulzarilal Nanda as his deputy. The first members were R.K. Patil, Chintaman Deshmukh and Gaganvihari Lal Mehta.

■ Matthai cautioned that the numbers in the 1950-51 budget were not strictly comparable with those for 1949-50 because the state finances were included for the first time in 1950-51.

■ Matthai presented a white paper on the budget, giving a brief account of economic developments. Much of his budget speech dwelt on the successes and failures of his govt in managing inflation post World War II.

■ Interestingly, during the 12 months from July 1948 to June 1949, India’s imports from Pakistan were 117 crore and exports were 83 crore, leaving a trade deficit of 34 crore.

■ Matthai abolished business profit tax to encourage capital formation. He also reduced the income tax payable by firms to four annas from five annas but raised company super-tax by half an anna.

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