Maintaining the traditions of the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and senior Ministry officials on June 22, 2019 observed the symbolic 'Halwa' ceremony to mark the launch of formal printing of documents relating to the Union Budget 2019-20.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government will present its maiden Budget after taking charge in office for the second consecutive term following their landslide victory in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections.
Around 10 days or so before the documents connected to the Budget are printed, a halwa (pudding) is cooked in a large vessel and distributed to officials directly associated with the Budget.
Following this ceremony, officials are locked in the North Block, cut off from the outside world and are let out only before the actual presentation begins in the Parliament. A mobile phone jammer is installed inside the Finance Ministry to prevent the leakage of information.
They are not even allowed to contact their near and dear ones through phone or any other form of communication, like e-mail. Only very senior officials in the finance ministry are permitted to go home. The ceremony of making Halwa is connected to the tradition of having something sweet before carrying out an auspicious task.
"Halwa ceremony marking the commencement of Budget printing process for the General Budget 2019-20 was held in North Block here today afternoon in the august presence of the Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman," a Finance Ministry statement said.
The Halwa ceremony, held at the Finance Ministry marks as the commencement of Union Budget.
Along with Finance Minister and Finance Minister of State, the Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, DIPAM Secretary Atanu Chakraborty and Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar attended the customary pre-Budget event.
On Friday, July 05 2019, Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget in the Lok Sabha, scripting history as the first full-time woman to do so since former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had also held the finance portfolio when she had presented the budget 48 years ago.
On Thursday, Nirmala Sitharaman had tabled the Economic Survey 2019 prepared by Chief Economic Advisor KV Subramanian, wherein there was projection for a 7.0% growth rate for the Indian economy in FY2019-20.
As Sitharaman presents the first budget, there will be another annual ritual of the Finanace Minister posing with the 'Budget Briefcase' outside the Parliament. This ritual which can be 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.
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.
(With PTI inputs)