Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s finance minister, center right, Anurag Thakur, India’s finance and corporate affairs minister, second left, and other members of the finance ministry pose for a photograph outside the North Block of the Central Secretariat building in New Delhi. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Budget 2019: Nirmala Sitharaman Discards Briefcase, Carries ‘Bahi-Khata’ For Budget

Giving an Indian touch to the budgetary exercise, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday carried the budget documents to Parliament in a red bag, reminiscent of the traditional ‘bahi-khata’ (ledger).

Earlier, finance ministers in different governments used a briefcase to carry budget documents, a practice considered a British tradition. “I thought it was better we move out from British handhold. And I thought it was good enough to do something on our own. It was easier for me to carry also and very Indian,” she said in the customary briefing after the budget presentation. Sitharaman, the first full-time woman finance minister of the country, carried the budget documents draped in a red silk cloth with national emblem.

During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha broke the one colonial tradition of budget presentation at 5 pm. Since then all governments have been presenting the budget at 11 am. Bahi-khata is referred to books of account maintained by traditional Indian businessmen. 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.

Also read: Budget 2019: Key Takeaways From Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget Speech

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