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The Story Behind the Union Budget Briefcase

By Olga
|

The Union Budget of India has many traditions with interesting fact-based stories like the halwa ceremony.

Another observation you must have made is that our Finance Minister poses with a leather briefcase on the Budget Day before he heads to make his speech. The origin of that tradition dates back to 18th century in the United Kingdom. India too is influenced by this British tradition.

The History
  
 

The History

The first budget box was designed in 1860 for the Chancellor of the UK back then, William Ewart Gladstone who commissioned a wooden box, lined in black satin and covered in scarlet leather.

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Before this, the Chancellors used to carry the statement of financial policy in leather bags to the House of Commons. Gladstone is said to have asked for a box as he was known to give long speeches and required it to keep his papers.

Below is a Picture of the famous "Gladstone Box".

The name
  

The name

The word "budget" comes from a French word "Bougette" which means "little bag". It is known as the budget box in the UK, whereas in India it is a briefcase.

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Colour of the Briefcase
  
 

Colour of the Briefcase

The UK has been following the tradition of red box that has been handed over to the next chancellor every year. It was changed into a new box by George Osborne in 2011 as the box had become too old and shabby.

Above is a picture of him with the new budget box.

In India however, the financial ministers have used briefcases that were red, black and even tan in colour. There is no tradition of passing on the briefcase to next Finance minister in India or any specifications in colour.

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Briefcases used by various Indian FMs
  

Briefcases used by various Indian FMs

Yashwant Singh's briefcase had buckles and straps, whereas Manmohan Singh carried a briefcase similar to the Gladstone box only, black in colour. Ex-Finance minister P Chidambaram was seen with scarlet leather briefcase much like the British one and our current FM Arun Jaitley had carried a tan briefcase in 2015.

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What does the briefcase contain?
  

What does the briefcase contain?

It has the Finance Minister's budget speech.

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