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Briefcase to ‘Bahi Khata’: When Sitharaman Ended British Tradition

(This article was first published on 5 July 2019 and has been republished from The Quint's archive in view of the upcoming Union Budget 2020.)

The painstaking secrecy of the Budget is a British legacy, so is the Budget briefcase that the finance minister carries on the day it is tabled.

But in a departure from what was the tradition so far, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 5 July last year, arrived with a red cloth folder (bahi khata or a ledger notebook) instead of the briefcase, to present the Budget.

Interestingly, the word 'budget' originated from the French word ‘Bougette’, which means a leather briefcase.

Traditionally, India’s budget briefcase is a copy of the ‘Gladstone Box’ which is used by the British government. However, while the British finance ministers pass on the briefcase to their successors, their Indian counterparts carry their own.

Also Read: Strictly Confidential! How Finance Ministry Keeps Budget a Secret

‘What Happened to The Briefcase,’ Asks Twitter

Surprised with the departure from the British legacy, Tweeple questioned why the briefcase was missing in action.

‘Why Follow the Trend When You Can Set One’

Blast From The Past

Here are photos of former finance ministers holding the briefcase, ahead of the budget presentation.

First Finance Minister Shanmukham Chetty With His Briefcase.
Pranab Mukherjee.
P Chidambaram.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during Modi Govt 1.0.
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal during Modi Govt 1.0.

. Read more on India by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsBriefcase to ‘Bahi Khata’: When Sitharaman Ended British Tradition . Read more on India by The Quint.