PM Modi was hell-bent on making India digital and competes with the globe. However, to my surprise, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not pose with the iconic briefcase, like her predecessors. In a departure from the tradition, she was seen holding a red cloth folder enclosed with a string and decorated with the national emblem, which was described by officials as the “Bahi Khata“.rom the past five years,
The Budget briefcase had been replaced by the traditional Bahi Khata in keeping with Indian tradition. If it symbolises the departure from the slavery of western thought, then we should not forget that we believed in Kingdoms and Slavery and it’s the Britishers who taught us Democracy and introduced the Parliament. From infrastructure to political arrangements — everything is given to us by them. Why this selective abolishment?
Moreover, was Digital India eyewash? Budget in red cloth ignoring Digital India of PM Modi is very confusing. It should have been in electronic devices. We the people always expected performance from BJP and not symbolism. However, they always succeeded in diverting the main issues of India by making such mockery.
Media is diverting people’s attention towards Bahi Khata and no one is actually bothered about the Budget. Just because Sitharaman believes that leather made products are not auspicious for the big occasion, so she avoided the leather bag and took the Bahi Khata. She should not forget that her government is here from the past five years and the former Finance Ministers presented Budget in a briefcase. Was that inauspicious for our country?
The Finance Minister has worked in the UK; she knows the tradition of our country and she also knows the modernism. Earlier, Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first full-time Finance Minister, ditched another tradition. During the customary Halwa ceremony before the Budget Session, she untied the red ribbon instead of cutting it. The officials said that she believed cutting a ribbon is not considered auspicious.
Nirmala Sitharaman’s red folder caused a buzz amid anticipation surrounding her first budget, also the first of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term. Especially as the word “Budget” originates from the French “bougette” or leather bag. Down the years, Finance Ministers have carried red, black, tan, and brown briefcases.
The “budget case” tradition started in the 18th century when the Chancellor of the Exchequer or Britain’s budget chief was asked to ‘open the budget’ while presenting his annual statement. In 1860, the then British budget Chief William E. Gladstone carried his papers in a red suitcase with the Queen’s monogram in gold. He went on to become the Prime Minister. The same bag was used by several governments.
India’s first budget was presented by RK Shanmukham Chetty in 1947, months after independence. Ten years later, TT Krishnamachari carried something that looked like a file bag. Jawaharlal Nehru carried a black briefcase. Earlier this year and then finance minister Piyush Goyal had carried a red briefcase before presenting the Interim Budget. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before him carried a tan briefcase.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, as the Finance Minister who delivered the iconic 1991 proposals, carried a black bag. Pranab Mukherjee, as Manmohan Singh’s Finance Minister, used a red briefcase similar to the Gladstone case of Britain. It was velvet, and so far India was in a similar position as it is now when it comes to the economy. What new India needs is change is people’s lives, their standard of living, and their safety. Youth need jobs, small businesses need a breather, and students need cheaper education.
Ignoring all these, if we get into symbolism, the real issues would never be addressed. BJP might get one more term hereafter too, as there are leadership crises in India. Anyway, democracy has been compromised to various levels. I don’t know how this symbolism is going to solve the purpose? By making the cover exclusive, can the content inside be changed? Nirmala Sitharaman is the second woman Finance Minister after Indira Gandhi to present the budget.
Hope the government invests widely in agricultural infrastructure and support private entrepreneurship in driving value addition to farmers produce and those from allied activities too, like bamboo, timber and also for generating renewable energy. It is claimed that 9.6 crore toilets have been constructed since October 2, 2014. More than 5.6 lakh villages have become open defecation free. However, the reality of India is quite different.
She proposed to expand the Swachh Bharat Mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village. However, look at the urban cities; they are under the piles of garbage. Nothing much has changed in spite of spending crores on such initiatives. The government needs a framework for making India a global hub of aircraft financing and leasing activities. They should encourage new industries to come up, leveraging India’s existing capabilities that will add more quality jobs. Far most important is Job for youth and education for students. Let’s see how this red auspicious cloth can change the fate of the economy of New India.
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