Union Budget 2019: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman broke age-old tradition of ‘budget briefcase’ ahead of her first Budget speech at Parliament. Instead of traditional black, brown or beige briefcases, Sitharaman chose to simply wrap the Budget documents in a red cloth. The Finance Minister was seen with her cloth folio that was tied with red ribbon and had National Emblem on it. Traditionally, every finance minister used to pose with a leather briefcase before reading out the Budget Day speech inside Parliament. For those who don’t know, budget and briefcase have a long history. The word ‘budget’ originates from a French word 'bougette' which means a leather bag. The Budget documents were always carried in a leather briefcase with different shades of red and brown. This tradition continues from the British era, who used a Gladstone box.
Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian on FM @nsitharaman keeping budget documents in four fold red cloth instead of a briefcase: It is in Indian tradition. It symbolizes our departure from slavery of Western thought. It is not a budget but a 'bahi khata' (ledger)— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) July 5, 2019
It was in the 18th century when Chancellor of the Exchequer or Britain's budget chief was first asked to 'open the budget' while presenting his annual statement. In 1860, the then British budget chief William E Gladstone, known for his long speeches, used a red suitcase with Queen's monogram embossed in gold to carry his bundle of papers.
In India, the tradition of posing with a bag before the Budget speech started when Independent India's first ever Budget announced by the then Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty on November 26, 1947. At the day of presenting a 1998-99 budget, Finance minister Yashwant Sinha carried a special black leather bag that had straps and buckles on it. While the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a simple black bag during the most famous Budget of 1991. However, Pranab Mukherjee sprung a surprise when he as the finance minister in the UPA came to Parliament with a red-coloured box which looked like a copy of what was used in Britain.
“It is in Indian tradition. It symbolises our departure from slavery of Western thought. It is not a budget but a 'bahi khata'(ledger),” said Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian when asked about Sitharaman’s red cloth folio.