Budget 2023: Do you know who gave the longest Budget speech? Everything interesting about the annual financial statement
All eyes are on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as she presents her fifth Budget in Parliament. She also holds the honour of delivering the longest Budget speech to date — two hours and 42 minutes
FP Explainers Last Updated:February 01, 2023 09:36:17 IST
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds up a folder with the Government of India?s logo as she leaves her office to present the Budget in Parliament, in New Delhi. Reuters
It’s Budget Day and all eyes are on Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, as she will present her fifth Union Budget in Parliament today. This is this government’s last full-fledged Budget before the Lok Sabha polls early next year.
To get you all fired up about the Budget, here’s some trivia about the annual financial statement.
First Budget for India
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The Budget was first introduced in India on 7 April, 1860 by James Wilson from East India Company to the British Crown. Independent India saw its first budget on 26 November, 1947 by then Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty.
2 hours and 42 minutes
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds the record for delivering the longest speech while presenting the Union Budget 2020-21 on 1 February 2020. With two pages still remaining, she had to cut short her speech as she felt unwell. She asked the Speaker to consider the remaining part of the speech as read. During the course of this speech, she broke her own record — in July 2019, during her maiden speech, Sitharaman spoke for 2 hours and 17 minutes.
Manmohan Singh showed he was a real word wizard when he delivered the longest Budget speech in terms of words in 1991 under the Narasimha Rao government. In 2018, then finance minister Arun Jaitley’s speech was the second longest in terms of word count. It had 18,604 words and Jaitley spoke for an hour and 49 minutes.
Former Prime Minister Moraraji Desai holds the record of presenting the most number of budgets in the history of the country. He had presented 10 budgets during his stint as finance minister during 1962-69. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons Photo
That’s the length of the shortest budget speech till date and it was delivered by former Finance Minister Hirubhai Mulljibhai Patel in 1977.
Former Prime Minister Moraraji Desai holds the record of presenting the most number of budgets in the history of the country. He had presented 10 Budgets during his stint as finance minister during 1962-69, followed by P Chidambaram (9), Pranab Mukherjee (8), Yashwant Sinha (8), and Manmohan Singh (6).
Former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presenting his budget in 2015. PTI
‘Shaayari’ and couplets read out
Budget speeches are most often long and pretty colourless. To inject some interest and awaken MPs, finance ministers have often peppered their speeches with shayaris and couplets.
In 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman invoked legendary poets by including their verses in her Budget speech. Towards the beginning, Sitharaman read out a couplet by Rabindranath Tagore: “Faith is the bird that feels the light/and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
The lines are from Tagore’s poem titled Fireflies, translated from bilingual Lekhan (1926).
She also recited a couplet from Thirukkural: “A King/Ruler is the one who creates and acquires wealth,/protects and distributes it for common good.”
Penned by Thiruvalluvar, this is taken from the classic Tamil text consisting of 1,330 short couplets of seven words each, divided into 133 chapters.
Finance ministers before her have also recited poems during their Budget speeches.
In 2015, taking a dig at the UPA rule, Arun Jaitley borrowed these lines from a Hindi poem: “Kuch to gul khilaye hai, kuch abhi khilaane hai, par baagh mein ab bhi kaante kuch purane hain.”
Until 1999, the Union Budget was announced at 5 pm on the last working day of February. Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha changed that practice in 1999. File image/PTI
Until 1999, the Union Budget was announced at 5 pm on the last working day of February, a practice inherited from the British era. Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha changed the Budget presentation ritual by announcing the 1999 Union Budget at 11 am.
There’s a leak!
Budget documents used to be printed at Rashtrapati Bhavan till there was a leak in 1950. The following year, printing was shifted to a press on Minto Road and then to the basement of North Block, which then became the permanent venue for the printing press of budget papers.
Mind your language
Until 1955, the Union Budget was presented in English. However, the Congress-led government later decided to print the Budget papers in both Hindi and English.
For the first time in Independent India’s history, the Budget for 2021-22 was paperless. This was done keeping in view the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With inputs from agencies