Union Budget for the financial year 2019-20 will be presented on 5 July, by the newly appointed Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on 5 July. Besides being the first budget of the recently re-elected Modi government, it will be Sitharaman's first time presenting the budget. She is the second female finance minister this country has seen, next only to Indira Gandhi.
As the country gears up for the presentation, here are 10 such interesting facts on Union budgets presented in independent India.
1. First-ever budget was an interim one
The first-ever budget presented after independence, for the Union of India on 26 November 1947 was an interim budget.
Presented by the first finance minister RK Shanukham Chetty, it was only a review of the economy and no new tax changes were proposed as the day of budget presentation for the next financial year was less than a 100 days away.
From then on, interim budget came on to be known as one for a short period.
2. Indira Gandhi presented the budget as PM
In the year 1969, during her term as the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi faced opposition on several issues with her party (Congress).
Reports suggest the Gandhi decided on the nationalisation of 14 of the largest banks in India, without consultating Morarji Desai, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of the country at the time.
After the disagreement, he submitted his resignation from her cabinet in the same year. Indira Gandhi then took over the Finance Ministry and presented the Union Budget. This is how she came to be the first woman in India to hold the position of Finance Minister.
3. Morarji Desai presented the most number of budgets
Morarji Desai holds the record of presenting the most number of financial budgets at 10, followed by P Chidambaram who presented it 9 times and former president Pranab Mukherjee who presented the budget 8 times.
4. Halwa Ceremony
In line with the Indian tradition to start an important event with something sweet, ten days before the budget is presented, wherein the Ministry is sealed to perform the printing work in full secrecy, a halwa ceremony is performed. The entire finance ministry, including those involved with the printing process, is served with halwa.
5. Rajiv Gandhi presented the budget as PM
VP Singh was appointed as the Finance Minister of the tenth cabinet of India in 1984, the year Rajiv Gandhi took office as the Prime Minister, following the death of his mother Indira Gandhi.
While there are a lot of speculations on why, but Singh was dismissed from the cabinet in 1987, following which he submitted his resignation from the Congress party and the Lok Sabha.
After the resignation, Rajiv Gandhi presented the budget for the financial year 1987-88.
6. Dream budget
The 1997-98 budget was also called the dream budget due to major economic reforms like lowering of income and corporate tax rates. It was presented by P. Chidambaram.
7. Constitutional crisis
The 1998-99 budget was passed without any debate as there was a constitutional crisis where the then IK Gujral government was on its way to be dissolved. A special session of the parliament was called to pass the budget.
8. Changing the budget presentation timing to 11 am
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha changed the tradition of announcing the budget at 5 pm on the last working day of February to 11 am in 1999.
9. Railway budget
In 2016, the railway budget was clubbed with the general budget for the first time in 92 years.
10. Budget presentation day
In 2017, Arun Jaitley, the previous finance minister, changed the date of budget presentation to 1 February to allow enough time for the budget changes to be implemented by the start of the next financial year, that is 1 April.