Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget in Parliament on February 1, 2022. In 2019, Sitharaman presented her first Budget by replacing the budget briefcase with the ‘bahi khata’. The decision was taken to drop the colonial practice of carrying a briefcase. Last year, she went paperless and presented her budget on a tablet. The budget this time is expected to be paperless considering the ongoing pandemic. Ahead of the budget presentation, expectations are building up for what could be in store for the common man.
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Here are a few interesting facts about India’s Union Budget:
1) The term budget has originated from the old French ‘bougette’ which means ‘small leather purse’.
2) The first Union Budget of India was presented by James Wilson, a Scottish economist and politician, in 1860.
3) The first Union Budget of independent India was presented by India’s first finance minister RK Shanukham Chetty on November 26, 1947. About 46% of the budget amounting to Rs 92.74 crore was allocated to defence.
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4) The Union Budget was published only in English until 1955. From 1955-56, the government started to publish it in both English and Hindi.
5) Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister to present the budget when he held the finance portfolio back in 1958-59.
6) Former prime minister Indira Gandhi was the first Indian woman to present the budget in 1970-71.
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7) Former finance minister Morarji Desai holds the record for presenting the highest number of budgets – a record 10 – closely followed by P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee.
8) In 2017, the railway budget was merged into the Union Budget. Since then, the budget has been presented on February 1. The changes were introduced by the then finance minister Arun Jaitley.
9) Nirmala Sitharaman in 2019 dumped the traditional practice of a budget briefcase and started carrying a red packet with the national emblem wrapped with a ribbon.
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10) Arun Jaitely holds the record for delivering the longest Budget speech. He delivered a 2 hour 10 minutes budget speech, excluding a 4-minute break, in 2014. It was the longest budget in terms of paragraphs, comprising 253 paragraphs.
11) In terms of words, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s watershed 1971 Union Budget was the longest, consisting of 18,650 words.