Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, July 5, reached the Finance Ministry in the North Block of the Raisina Hill. Making a huge departure from tradition, she carried with her not a typical briefcase to carry the budget file but a red Indian bhaikhatta (ledger) which had the emblem of India designed on it.
She posed in front of the Finance Ministry with the red folio containing all the documents concerning the Budget, i.e the most powerful box.
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.
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.