Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman, who'll present Budget today, has left finance ministry carrying the Union Budget 2020-21 in 'bahi khata' (red cloth-wrapped ledger). Last year too, she carried the Budget document in a similar 'bahi khata', breaking away from the years-long tradition of carrying a briefcase. She, along with her ministry colleagues, will meet President Ram Nath Kovind, and attend a Cabinet meeting before the Budget speech.
While presenting her first Budget, Sitharaman grabbed the eyeballs when she dropped the traditional leather briefcase for a traditional bahi-khata. It created quite a stir on social media. However, the Finance Minister revealed at an India Today event that she didn't even know what a 'bahi-khata' was but wanted to get over the colonial hangover and felt that the Budget was a sacred document.
Traditionally Budget documents including the minister's speech copy, finance bill and some other papers have always been carried in a brown briefcase. It has been a legacy passed on by the British.
The minister also said that the briefcase had Elizabeth II Regina's initials etched on it. "It no longer holds any ground in India, so why keep carrying a briefcase," minister had said.
Meanwhile, as Sitharaman presents Modi 2.0's second Budget today, India faces a severe economic crisis, and the country's GDP has declined to a six-year low of 4.5 per cent (Q2 of 2019-20). Consumer sentiment is at an all-time low and all pillars of the economy are in the red. Experts believe it'll be a huge task for the Finance Minister to strike a balance between a "fiscally prudent" Budget and a Budget for the masses. While some say Union Budget 2020 could reflect PM Modi's vision for making India a $5 trillion dollar economy, others believe it'll be focused around common people, rural sector, salaried class and businesses.