Five times finance ministers referred to poets and authors in budget speech

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Budgetary Speech has seen finance ministers enrich them by incorporating poetry and quotes from notable writers.

The Union Budget 2023 will be tabled in Parliament today (February 1) by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, with the public expecting news such as changes in tax slabs and interest rate breaks for house purchases. This will be Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s fifth budget and the Modi government’s last full budget before the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

Budget speeches usually last for hours. In the past, finance ministers have enriched their budget speech by incorporating poetry and quotes from notable writers. Here are five such occasions:

Manmohan Singh (1991)

Manmohan Singh invoked Victor Hugo in 1991 while discussing India’s economic potential. Hugo famously observed. ‘No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come’.

Singh once mentioned such a thought in his budget speech. He submitted to the  house that “Let the whole world hear it loud and clear. India is now wide awake. We shall prevail. We shall overcome.”  The 1991 Budget was historic in that it announced major economic reforms in the midst of a widespread crisis.

Yashwant Sinha (2001)

During his Budget address in 2001, Yash Sinha uttered the following poem. “Taqaazaa hai waqt ka ke toofaan se joojho, kahaan tak chaloge kinaare kinaare?”  You must fight the storms of the times. How long will you walk along the beach?

P Chidambaram (2007)

During his 2007 budget speech, Chidambaram referenced Thiruvalluvar’s poem “Kodai Ali Sengol Kudi Ombal Nangum, Udaiyanam Vendharkku Oli” by Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar. “Generous donations, compassion, righteous leadership, and aid to the oppressed are the hallmarks of good governance,” it says.

Arun Jaitley (2017)

Arun Jaitley used an Urdu couplet to suggest that the BJP will efficiently handle the difficulties that the UPA government had left behind. “Kashti chalane walon ne lehar lehar toofan mile aur mauj mauj majhdhaar hamein. In halat mein aata hai daria karna paar humein, phir bhi dikhaya hai humne, aur phir yeh dikha denge sabko.”

The couplet was rendered as follows: “In each wave, we discovered storms and rapids. But we have shown, and will continue to demonstrate, that we can cross the river even under these conditions.”

Nirmala Sitharaman, (2021)

Nirmala Sitharaman used Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in her COVID-19 Budget address to give a message of optimism in a changing world.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when it is still dark,” she explained.

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