Union Budget 2019: Know Why The Finance Minister Carries A Budget Briefcase, Ahead Of Nirmala Sitharaman's Maiden Budget Speech

Union Budget 2019

As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the first budget of the Modi Government 2.0 on Friday at 11 AM, there will be the annual ritual of the Finanace Minister posing with the 'Budget Briefcase' outside the Parliament for the shutterbugs

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:

As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the first budget of the Modi Government 2.0 on Friday at 11 AM, there will be the annual ritual of the Finanace Minister posing with the 'Budget Briefcase' outside the Parliament for the shutterbugs.

Before Sitharaman presents her maiden budget (and the second budget of the year) this ritual which can traced back to 1947 in India, when the then Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty presented the first ever budget of independent India on November 26, 1947, she will pose with the leather briefcase or budget box - containing all the documents concerning the Budget, i.e the most powerful box. Here's the reason why.

Why does the Union Finance Minister carry a 'Budget' briefcase?

The word Budget originates from the French word bougette which means a leather bag. This leather bag (red, brown or black), is not for mere show but carries all the documents related to the Union Budget for that financial year.

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Who started the tradition?

In 1860, the then British budget chief William Ewart Gladstone, known for his long speeches, used a red suitcase with Queen's monogram embossed in gold to carry his bundle of papers. As he was asked to 'open the budget' while presenting his statement, the tradition of the 'budget' started. 

This British tradition trickled to its then colony India too. Even after Independence in the first ever budget presented by the then Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty on 26 November 1947, the budget briefcase was carried by Chetty.  Similarly, in 1958, Jawaharlal Nehru who presented that year's budget carried a black briefcase, which was repeated by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 1991. Singh's finance minister - Pranab Mukherjee carried a red briefcase, which was the preferred choice of this year's interim budget presenter - Piyush Goyal on February 1.

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Is this tradition still alive in Britain?

Yes. Just like every Indian Finance Minister poses for shutterbugs right outside the parliament on the budget day, Britain's budget chief - the chancellor of the Exchequer - holds up his briefcase to strike a pose in front of Number 11 Downing Street before heading to the Parliament to present the country's budget.

Nirmala Sitharaman will be the one who will present it in the Lok Sabha is scripting history as the first woman to do so since former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had also then held the finance portfolio. This year's budget speech would entail the 89th Union budget, including interim ones that Independent India has seen. After Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget in the Lok Sabha, both lower and upper houses will be adjourned for the day. 

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