Spurring the countdown for Budget 2021, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on 23rd January 2021, hosted the Halwa Ceremony in the Finance Ministry. In this story, we talk about some unconventional budget traditions followed by the countries during the presentation of the Union Budget.
Crux of the Matter
The Halwa Ceremony
- The 70-year-old customary Halwa Ceremony is performed at the North Block of Finance Ministry marking the final process of Budget Preparation.
- It commences the budget lock-in period and its printing process.
- Although this year it would be delivered paperless owing to Covid 19 restrictions.
The halwa is prepared in a large vessel and served to everyone directly associated with the Budget making process, thus recognising their contribution.
What Is So Peculiar About The North Block?
Post the ceremony, in order to prevent the information leak, all the officials and support staff would move to the basement of North Block and remain cut off from their families until the budget is presented.
The ritual of Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister is brought to India by the United Kingdom and is still followed by most of the Commonwealth Nations.
In India, for the past 25 years, FMs have followed the unsaid custom of reciting couplets or poems during the Budget presentation with a hope of giving some life to the dry budget numbers.
The Budget Day Shoes
- In Canada, FMs wear a pair of new shoes while presenting the Budget.
- In 2015, a particularly fiscally conservative FM rather detailed the point by wearing New Balance shoes to show how he had balanced the Budget.
- Other Canadian instances include wearing green shoes for portraying one’s environmental credentials.
- Children’s shoes to show child-friendly fiscal policies.
Britain’s Bizarre Rituals
- The financial year (tax year) of UK begins from April 6, unlike all major economies that begin from January 1.
- The British Chancellor while delivering the Budget may drink alcohol of his own choice – only time when anyone from the House of Commons can do so.
The Red Suitcase
- The UK Treasury Chief carries a Red Box/Suitcase containing Budget contents & speech delivered to the Parliament.
- A lot of UK ruled colonies continue to follow this tradition to date.
Read about the expectations of different sectors from the budget of 2021 here.
- Union Budget Mobile app was recently launched by Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The mobile application will allow users — members of the parliament and general public — to access budget documents easily.
- The military budget or defence budget of India is the portion of the overall budget of the Union budget of India that is allocated for the funding of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Army accounts for more than half of the total defence budget of India.
- Until 2018, as a part of the tradition, Finance ministers carried the budget in a leather briefcase. The tradition was established by the first Finance minister of India, Mr RK Shanmukham Chetty. Nirmala Sitharaman broke this tradition by carrying the budget in a Bahi-Khata.