What’s that bag Ms Finance Minister?
Every year the finance minister presents the budget of the country. The conspicuous brown briefcase became an item of mystery when the FM would carry all his documents in this small bag which contained his budget speech, and the copy of the expenditures planned for the coming year. But what’s 2019 if it’s not the year of difference! As we got our first full time female finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, we also saw a change in conventions.
The budget briefcase was replaced with a red bahi khata. Yes, that’s what it is called. Bahi is traditionally a book bounded by a red cotton cloth and khata means ledger. Bahi-khata is referred to books of account maintained by traditional Indian businessmen.
The red coloured cloth is considered auspicious as idols of Indian goddesses are placed on red coloured clothes (take note of this on this Navratri).
Commenting on the shift from a briefcase to bahi-khata, Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian said the government is following “Indian tradition”.
“It is in Indian tradition. It symbolises our departure from slavery of Western thought. It is not a Budget, but a Bahi-Khata (ledger),” he added.
Budget is derived from French word bougette (or a bag), but it seems the new India is ready to wear its traditions on sleeves when it comes to moving ahead in modern times.
Interestingly, the bahi-khata which FM Nirmala Sitharaman carried was stitched by her aunt who took it to Siddhivinayak and Mahalakshmi temples for puja (blessings) and then gifted it to her.
BJP government changed one more colonial tradition. Till 2000, Union Budget was announced in the evening at 5 pm according to UK Parliamentary sessions. But in 2001, the then finance minister Yashwant Sinha in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee govt announced the budget at 11 am hence starting a trend.