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Why Finance Minister poses with a briefcase on budget day and what's inside it!

By Simran Kashyap
|

New Delhi, July 04: Modi 2.0 government is all set to announce the full budget for this year. With the new Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, Modi government is expected to deliver a lot this year.

While most people are aware of the entire process, there is a mystery around the briefcase that is been carried by the finance minister every time before entering into the parliament.

Why Finance Minister poses with a briefcase on budget day and whats inside it!

You might be questioning yourself as to why does the Finance Minister carry a briefcase and poses for shutterbugs right outside the parliament on the budget day? What's inside it?

Well, the word Budget originated from the French word 'Bougette' which means a leather bag. This is why every Finance Minister poses with a leather bag before his or her speech in the parliament.

How did India develop this tradition?

This tradition has been followed since the 18th century when Chancellor of the Exchequer or Britain's budget chief was first asked to 'open the budget' while presenting his annual statement.

The earliest usage of the budget box dates back to around 1860, when William Ewart Gladstone was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain who became popular for his long speeches and using a red colored suitcase with Queen's monogram carved in gold to carry his budget papers. Since such long budget speeches required lots of files & documents, he felt the need of a box to organize and carry them to the parliament.

Why Finance Minister poses with a briefcase on budget day and whats inside it!

After Independence in 1947, the tradition of posing a bag before the budget speech started when Independent India's first ever budget was announced by the then Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty on November 26, 1947.

Later during 1998-99 budget, Finance minister Yashwant Sinha had carried a special black leather bag that had straps and buckles on it. While the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a simple black bag during the most famous budget of 1991.

However, over the years the shape of the bag has been somewhat consistent, even though the successive FMs have experimented with different colours.

But in 2019, breaking the British-era tradition, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who will present the first budget of the Modi Government 2.0 was not carrying the traditional briefcase but the budget documents were kept in four fold red cloth.

Sitharaman has shown a love for Indian tradition by not choosing the briefcase. It symbolises our departure from slavery of Western thought. It is not a budget but a 'bahi khata'.

Sitharaman keeping budget documents in four fold red cloth instead of a briefcase

Even though this has been inherited by the successive Indian governments from the colonial legacy, the papers in these small leather bags guide the future of the country's economic progress in the years to come.

Not just in India, but even in most of the nations which were part of British colonies, have adopted this tradition of proudly flashing a leather briefcase on the day of budget.

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