Budget 2018: Just six days are left before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the last full Budget of the present government. The Union Budget 2018 is a crucial one as it is the first post-GST Budget, ahead of eight state elections and the 2019 General Elections. In this budget, expect lesser surprise element of ‘what got cheaper; what got dearer’, but the tradition of Budget presentation has many interesting stories — from halwa ceremony to lockdown of officials, and, most importantly, Finance Ministers posing with the Budget briefcases outside the Lok Sabha.
Here’s are five things about the Budget briefcase we bet you did not know:
1. It’s in the name: The Budget word is derived from the French word “bougette”. Many of you might be knowing that but what you may not be knowing that the word bougette means ‘small bag’; once considered enough to hold government’s revenue and expenditure.
2. Colonial, but not so much: The entire Budget process has been handed over us by the British, and so was the tradition of carrying the Budget briefcase, but what’s interesting to know here is that while in Britain there is one Budget briefcase that is passed on from one finance minister to another, that is not the case with India. India’s different finance ministers have carried different briefcases — sometimes, red velvet, sometimes black and sometimes, tan.
3. Not always hardtop attache case: Well, it wasn’t always how it looks today. When the first Budget was presented in 1947, RK Shanmukham Chetty, India’s first finance minister, he carried a leather portfolio bag. T T Krishnamachari carried a file bag. It was only after 70s, when finance ministers began carrying the classic hardtop attache case.
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4. Buckles, straps and more: Different finance ministers used different types of Budget briefcases. While Yashwant Sinha’s briefcase had buckles and straps, Manmohan Singh carried a briefcase that resembled William Ewart Gladstone’s briefcase, only black in colour, and Pranab Mukherjee caught everyone’s eyeballs, when he carried a velvet-red one, much like British counterparts.
5. Symbol of secrecy, but for logistical purpose: The tradition of carrying a briefcase, which we adopted from British, looks like a symbol of secrecy, a case that carried secret financial documents which are going to decide the next one of country’s economy. But, it actually came into being because of William Ewart Gladstone’s speeches were extraordinarily long — as long as five hours — and he needed a briefcase to carry his speech papers.