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Union Budget 2023: Know the history of Budget briefcase

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Union Budget 2023-2024 in Parliament on February 1. This is Nirmala Sitharaman’s fifth Union Budget and the last full Budget of Narendra Modi 2.0 government. According to Article 112 of the Constitution, the government is required to present a statement of estimated income and expenses for each financial year, which runs from April 1 to March 31, to the Parliament.

The most striking image about Budget is the photo of the finance minister standing outside Parliament holding a suitcase. Here is the history of the suitcase and its significance in Budget.

The term ‘Budget’ is originated from a French word ‘Bougette’. ‘Bougette’ means leather briefcase. The tradition of bringing Budget documents in a briefcase began in England in 1800s. William Ewart Gladstone brought the Budget in a red briefcase. Later, the same red Gladstone box was used till 2010.

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India too followed the British tradition. But, there has been no specific colour used for the briefcase. The first Budget of India was presented on 26 November, 1947. At that time, then  Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty carried Budget documents in a  trademark budget bag.

In 1974, Yashwantrao Chavan used  a steel-lined suitcase. During the 1998-99 budget, Yashwant Singh’s briefcase had buckles and straps.  Manmohan Singh carried a black briefcase similar to the Gladstone box in 1991. Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram once used a  scarlet leather briefcase.  Arun Jaitley had carried a tan briefcase in 2015.

Finance ministers TT Krishnamachari in 1957-58 and 1964-65, and Morarji Desai in 1959-1964 and 1967-70, carried their budget speeches – in files.

In 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman replaced  the briefcase with ‘Bahi Khata’. In 2020, Nirmala Sitharaman again replaced ‘bahi-khaata’ with a tablet. In 2020, for the first time, the Union Budget delivered in paperless form.



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