As India celebrates the 75th year of independence, the country has grown from a GDP of just Rs 2.7 lakh crore to now close to Rs 150 lakh crore. During these 75 years, India’s Union Budget or the Annual Financial Statement has ballooned, showing how the country has gone from once being counted among ‘the fragile five’ to now just shy of the 5th largest economy tag. Since 1947, India has had a total of 73 annual budgets, 14 interim budgets and four special budgets with the most recent having an expenditure budget of Rs 39,44,909 crore. This translates to a staggering increase of 1998440%.
Indian first Union Budget
India’s first union Budget was an interim one and was presented by the first finance minister Sir Ramasamy Chetty Kandasamy Shanmukham Chetty. “Sir, I rise to present the first Budget of a free and independent India. This occasion may well be considered an historic one and I count it a rare privilege that it has fallen to me to be the Finance Minister to present this Budget,” the finance minister had then started his budget speech saying. He had outlined an expenditure plan of Rs 197.39 crore. Revenue for the year was budgeted at Rs 171.15 crore. The first Union Budget also had a Railway Budget, similar to what was the practice until recent years.
In the following fiscal year the Union Budget was again presented by Sir Ramasamy Chetty Kandasamy Shanmukham Chetty where the expenditure budget was increased to 322.53 crore and the revenue budget was at 307.74 crore.
Union Budget in 1950s
As India moved ahead, the 1950-51 Union Budget was the first for the Republic of India and had a surplus. The revenue receipts stood at 347.5 crore while expenditure was at Rs 337.88 crore in the budgeted estimates. During this Union Budget John Matthai, the then finance minister announced the setting up of the Planning Commission headed by then Prime Minister Jawahrlal Nehru.
By the end of the decade, when finance minister Moraji Desai laid down his Union Budget on February 28,1959, the Indian growth story was shaping up strongly. Revenue receipts had grown to Rs 757.51 crore while expenditure stood at Rs 839.18 crore. This was a 117.98% increase in revenue receipts and a 148% jump in expenditure.
Union Budget in 1960s
Moraji Desai presented the Union Budget of 1960-61. His outlayed an expenditure plan of Rs 980.35 crore and a revenue of Rs 896.45 crore. It was during this budget that the government had introduced a new PayRoll Scheme. As the years went by and at the end of the decade, when Moraji Desai again presented the Union Budget, the revenue had grown to Rs 3,519 crore and expenditure stood at Rs 2,558 crore.
In the 1963-64 Union Budget, the government also recognised the need for strong armed forces after India faced a tough battle with the Chinese in 1962. The budget saw an increase in the Defence budget to Rs 708.51 crore. Defence budget again saw traction in 1966-67 Union Budget after the 1965 war with Pakistan.
Union Budget in 1970s to 1990s
The 1970-71 Union Budget was a historic one for India with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi presenting the financial statement as she held the portfolio. In this year the revenue stood at Rs 3,867 crore and expenditure was at Rs 3,167 crore. By the end of the decade the Union Budget had soared in size with expenditure at Rs 18,526 crore and revenue at Rs 16,551 crore. An increase of 484.97% in expenditure and a 328% rise in revenue.
In 1980-81 the country saw two budgets tabled in the Parliament with one being an interim one. As we closed the 1980s the Revenue of the government was up at RS 27,814 crore while the expenditure outlay was Rs 34,446 crore.
Beginning of a new decade
With the beginning of the new decade, Yashwant Sinha presented the Union Budget with a revenue of Rs 2.83 lakh crore and an expenditure outlay of Rs 2.84 lakh crore. The revenue budget was 1,65,767% more than what was presented by the finance minister in the first Union Budget of 1947 while the expenditure budget stood 1,43,779% above the 1947 interim budget — standing testament to the growth seen by the Indian economy in the years since independence.
In recent years, the Union Budget size makes the first revenue and expenditure outlay estimates of 1947 look peanuts. In the last Union Budget, presented by Nirmala Sitharaman, the expenditure outlay stood at Rs 39,44,909 crore while gross tax revenue was Rs 19,34,771 crore and non-tax revenue was at Rs 2,69,651 crore.
In all these years, finance ministers who have laid out the budgets have played a critical role in shaping up the future of India. Union Budgets have had significant schemes announced in them that narrate the growth trajectory that the country will take. The largest contribution by any finance minister here has been by Moraji Desai who presented 10 Union Budgets, followed closely behind by P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee with 9 and 8 Union Budget speeches to their names.