Budget Flashbacks: trivia, facts and more

The elections are done and BJP has retained their position as the ruling government. Now it is time for them to present a full union budget for FY 2019-20.

From the first Indian Budget that James Wilson presented to the crown in 1860 to today, the Indian Budget has come to become the largest budgets in the world! Let’s take a step back and see how the Indian Union Budget has changed over the years.

Union budget is presented in English: India is a diverse nation with over a billion people. It is natural that we don’t have a national language, instead, we have 22 official languages. Even though Hindi is the most commonly spoken language some states don’t speak the language at all. English is the lingua franca of India and hence, the budget is presented in English.

Independent India’s first budget: Independent India’s first budget was presented on 26 November 1947 by R K Shanmukham Chetty. The estimation of the first ever budget was Rs 171.15 crore and the fiscal deficit was Rs 204.59 crore.

Interim and Union budget: An interim budget is presented in the election (Lok Sabha) year by the outgoing government. The interim budget is also referred to as vote on account. The interim budget is presented to seek the Parliament’s permission to spend for a limited period. After the elections, the new government would finalise on the budget and may opt to present another budget which is the full budget. The full budget is prepared for a full fiscal year.

Budget publication languages: Until 1955, the Indian budget was printed only in English. The Congress-led government decided to print the Indian budget in Hindi and English from the year 1955.

Presentation of the budget: Previously, during the British Raj, the budget presentation commenced at 5 p.m. on the last working day of February. This practice ended in 2017 when the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley decided to present the budget at 11 a.m. on the first working day of February.

Indira Gandhi: Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is the only woman Finance Minister to have presented the Indian Union Budget so far. Nirmala Sitharaman, the current Finance Minister is set to be only the second woman Finance Minister to present the Indian Union Budget.

Railway and union budget: Railway and union budgets were presented separately until the year 2017 before they were merged into a single presentation.

Place of print: The Indian Union Budget was printed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan until the year 1950 when it got leaked and was forced to move to a press at the Minto Road in New Delhi. A government press was set up in the North Block in the year 1980, and it is the permanent place to print the Indian Union Budget.

The Indian budget has undergone various changes over the years. Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden budget presentation on 5 July 2019 will create a new history in the books of Indian Parliament as she would become the first ever woman full-time Finance Minister to present the Indian budget.

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