New Delhi: On February 1, 2024, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Union Finance Minister is set to present the interim Budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. This marks her sixth consecutive Budget since 2019. Before the Budget, let’s explore the history and lesser-known details about previous Union Budgets.
1.When was the first Union Budget introduced in India?
On April 7, 1860 the first Union Budget in India was introduced by Scottish economist and politician James Wilson from the East India Company to the British Crown. The first budget of Independent India was unveiled on November 26, 1947 by Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty.
Budget printing underwent changes over the years. Initially until 1950, the budget was printed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, due to a leak, the printing location had to be relocated to a press at Minto Road in New Delhi. In 1980, a government press was established in the North Block, which serves as the finance ministry’s headquarters.
2. Budget printing
The Budget was initially printed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan until a leak occurred, prompting a shift in the printing venue to a press at Minto Road in New Delhi. In 1980, a government press was established in the North Block which serves as the headquarters of the finance ministry.
3. Lengthiest budget presentation
Nirmala Sitharaman achieved the distinction of delivering the lengthiest Budget speech during the presentation of the Union Budget 2020–21 on February 1, 2020. On that occasion, the Finance Minister spoke for a duration of 2 hours and 42 minutes.
4. Maximum word count in budget speech
During the Narasimha Rao government in 1991, Manmohan Singh set a record for delivering the lengthiest Budget speech in terms of word count comprising 18,650 words. In 2018, the second-longest speech in terms of word count was given by then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, with a total of 18,604 words. Jaitley spoke for a duration of 1 hour and 49 minutes.
5. Shortest budget speech in India
The shortest budget speech in India occurred in 1977 when Finance Minister Hirubhai Mulljibhai Patel delivered a speech lasting only 800 words.
6. Which individual holds the record for presenting the highest number of Budgets?
The distinction of presenting the highest number of Budgets in India belongs to former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. During his tenure as the finance minister from 1962 to 1969, Desai delivered a total of 10 Budgets. This record surpasses other notable figures such as P Chidambaram (9), Pranab Mukherjee (8), Yashwant Sinha (8), and Manmohan Singh (6).
7. Timing of budget presentations
Before 1999, the Union Budget was traditionally presented at 5 pm on the last working day of February following a practice from the British era. The timing was later changed to 11 am by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha in 1999.
In 2017, Arun Jaitley initiated the practice of presenting the Union Budget on February 1, departing from the colonial-era tradition of using the last working day of the month.
8. Language used in budget presentations
The government led by the Congress decided to publish the Budget documents in both Hindi and English. Prior to this decision, the Union Budget had been presented exclusively in English until 1955.
9. Budget conducted without paper
The Union Budget for 2021-22 marked a historic occasion as it was conducted in a paperless format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a first in the history of independent India.
10. First Woman in India to Present the Budget
In 1971, Indira Gandhi, who served as both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of India, became the pioneer as the first woman to present a Budget in the country. In 2019, Nirmala Sitharaman achieved the distinction of being the second woman to present the Budget. During that year, Sitharaman departed from the conventional budget briefcase, opting for a traditional ‘bahi-khata’ adorned with the National Emblem to carry the speech and accompanying documents.