The first woman full-time Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivered Budget 2019 speech on July 5. Moments after the budget, Republic TV's executive editor Abhishek Kapoor and political editor Aishwariya Kapoor in an exclusive interview spoke to the Finance Minister and gathered her insights behind all the proposed the policies by the government in the Budget 2019.
Among the many, one thing that stood out in the budget presented by Nirmala Sitharaman was discontinuing the tradition of carrying a briefcase. The finance minister carried a red 'bahi kahta'. When asked on the reason of carrying the red ledger, Sitharaman said:
"That briefcase reminded me of British, it reminded me of foreigners. In our budget, in our annual statement why should we use a British tradition? Its not about Hindu Mustim Christian."
("Vo briefcase mujhe British yaad dilate hai, firangi yaad dilate hain. Humare budget ke samay humare statement ke samay hum firangi paddhati ko kyu apnaye. Isme Hindu muslim christian nahi hai.")
Lashing out on the Opposition for their criticism on the Budget, the finance minister said that when she taxes the rich, they ignore that. She ssaid that teh o[pposition do not see that he schemes are trasferring benefits directly to the poor. She also said that there is no one who is excluded, every segment has been benifitted.
Earlier Chief Economic Advisor KV Subramanian had said that she avoided the leather bag, and instead used the red bhaikhatta (ledger) beacause it is good omen. He had also said that it symbolises a departure of slavery from our western thought.
"The Finance Minister knows the tradition of our country and is following Indian culture and tradition, we must appreciate her decision," he had said.
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.