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Business News/ Budget / News/  Budget Trivia 2024: From paperless to longest speech, here are eight interesting facts about India's Union Budget
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Budget Trivia 2024: From paperless to longest speech, here are eight interesting facts about India's Union Budget

Budget 2024: India's first interim budget was presented in 1947 by RK Shanmukham Chetty to address economic hardship after independence. Fourteen interim budgets have been presented since then

Budget 2024: New Delhi, Jan 24 (ANI): Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Halwa ceremony as the final stage preparations for the Interim Union Budget 2024 commences, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo) (Ministry of Finance-X)Premium
Budget 2024: New Delhi, Jan 24 (ANI): Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Halwa ceremony as the final stage preparations for the Interim Union Budget 2024 commences, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo) (Ministry of Finance-X)

Budget 2024: Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in the coming months, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the interim budget on February 1, 2024. Being the last budget of the current union government, many analysts are expecting the announcement of some populist measures by the Finance Minister. With just two days left for the announcement of the interim budget here are some interesting facts about India's Union Budget.

India’s First Interim Budget

India’s first interim budget was presented by RK Shanmukham Chetty in 1947. The budget was presented for seven-and-a-half years immediately after India’s independence to address the country's economic hardship including food grain shortage, elevated imports, and skyrocketing inflation.

Catch Budget 2024 Expectations Live Updates

Also Read: Budget 2024: What is Economic Survey? Will it be presented before the Interim Budget?

Interim budget speeches till now

Till now fourteen interim budgets have been presented since India’s independence. The last one was presented by former Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in February 2019. Goyal’s speech for the presentation of the interim budget consisted of 8,119 words and was the second-longest interim budget speech after the one presented by RK Shanmukham Chetty in 1947.

When interim budgets were free from big announcements

Nearly two decades ago, interim budgets were limited to routine announcements where the present government used to stay away from announcing major schemes or rate cuts. However, since 2004-5, interim budgets consisted of announcements related to tax cuts, extension of schemes, and subsidies. According to a Business Standard report, former FM Jaswant Singh, introduced a merger of 50% dearness allowance of central government employees with basic pay, reduction in custom duty, and extension of Antyodaya Anna Yojana in the interim budget presented in 2004-05.

First budget of India was presented during the British Era

The first interim budget of India was presented in 1860 by James Wilson, a Scottish economist who used to work with the East India Company. However, the budget which is presented today has been transformed significantly with the contribution of eminent economists like PC Mahalanobis.

Longest speech

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds the title of presenting the longest budget speech in terms of duration in India’s history. Her budget speech in 2020 was two hours and 42 minutes long. That year on February 1, 2020, her speech began at 11 am and continued till 1:40 pm.

Nirmala Sitharaman was not even able to complete the lengthy budget speech script as she felt unwell. Later, the speech was completed by Om Birla.

However, her speech still fell short of the one given by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 1991 in terms of word count. Former PM Manmohan Singh’s speech as Finance Minister had 18,650 words.

From briefcase to Bahi Khata, to tablet

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also spearheaded the transformative journey of the union budget from briefcase to tablet. In 2019, she gave a desi avatar to the budget by replacing the old ‘budget briefcase’ with a 'bahi khata'. During her first Budget, FM carried a red-colored ‘bahi khata’ in 2019 instead of a briefcase. Later, the Covid pandemic served as an opportunity to opt for a paperless budget. The Union Budget of 2021-22 was presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on a digital tablet.

Halwa Ceremony and the lock-in period

More than a week before the presentation of the Union Budget, the Finance Ministry hosts a ‘Halwa ceremony’. The ceremony marks the beginning of the process of printing the Union Budget. The ceremony takes place in the basement of the Finance Ministry within Central Delhi. After the ceremony, all the ministry staff work in isolation for the next 9-10 days to prevent the secrecy of the process. They are not in contact with the outer world and can be only contacted by the family in case of emergency.

Morarji Desai has presented max number of budgets

The most number of budgets have been presented by India’s former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. He had presented the budget ten times. However, after the presentation of the upcoming interim budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will become the minister to present the maximum number of Union Budgets consecutively.

Year when Union Budget was leaked

Despite the high security maintained during the printing of the Union Budget, it was leaked in 1950 when then Finance Minister John Mathai was set to present the Union Budget in the parliament. After the leak, the printing of the Budget was shifted from Rashtrapati Bhawan to Minto Road. After 1980, the budget printing process shifted to the North Block basement.

When the Union Budget was printed in Hindi for the first time

Until 1955, the Union Budget was printed exclusively in English. However, after 1955-56, the Annual Financial document was presented in both English and Hindi. The tradition was initiated by then FM CD Deshmukh.

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Published: 30 Jan 2024, 09:30 AM IST
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