We’ve arrived at the time of year when Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her colleagues must perform a delicate balancing act in order to satisfy the budget’s numerous objectives.
Because of the prolonged pandemic, this budget is more challenging than most, but the recent strong tax revenues have given her some freedom.
Even so, she must ensure that economic growth is maintained, that social sector spending is not decreased, and that all of this is done without jeopardising fiscal responsibility.
Finance ministers are regarded as holding the most powerful positions in the world.
In India, many of these ministers went on to become Prime Ministers (PMs) or even Presidents of the country.
Jawaharlal Lal Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi all delivered the Budget while serving as Prime Minister of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru (Finance Minister and Prime Minister)
Beginning with the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru served as India’s first Prime Minister from 1947 to 1964, and was the second person to propose the Union Budget (after Shanmukham Chetty), while holding the Ministry of Finance position in the fiscal year 1958-59.
Morarji Desai (Finance Minister to the Prime Minister)
With ten times as Finance Minister, Morarji Desai holds the record for presenting the most Union Budgets.
Following Jawaharlal Nehru, Desai served as finance minister from 13 March 1958 to 29 August 1963, and then again from 13 March 1967 to 16 July 1969 after Indira Gandhi.
Between March 24, 1977, and July 28, 1979, Desai served as India’s fourth Prime Minister.
Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, was the first and only woman to serve as Prime Minister twice, from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 to 1984.
From July 16, 1969, to June 27, 1970, she was also in charge of the Ministry of Finance.
Similarly, when serving as Prime Minister of India, Charan Singh held the position of Finance Minister but did not submit the Budget.
Similarly, Charan Singh served as India’s finance minister (for a brief period between January and July 1979) before becoming Prime Minister from July 1979 to January 1980.
Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s son, served as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1989 and delivered the Union Budget in 1987-88, during which time he introduced the corporate tax. He also served as Minister of Finance.
Manmohan Singh served as India’s Finance Minister from 1991 to 1996, and was a key figure in the liberalisation of the economy and the abolition of the licence raj system.
From 1982 to 1985, he served as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
From 1998 to 2014, he served as Prime Minister of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), succeeding Atal Bihari Vajpayee (before Narendra Modi).
V P Singh
Vishwanath Pratap Singh was India’s finance minister from December 1984 to January 1, 1987, and then Prime Minister from December 2, 1989 to November 10, 1990.
Venkataraman was the finance minister from January 14, 1980, to January 15, 1982, during which time he presented the budget three times.
From August 31st, 1984, to July 24, 1987, he served as Vice President, and then as President from July 25, 1987, until July 25, 1992.
Pranab Mukherjee, like Venkataram, was the finance minister before ascending to the presidency as India’s 13th President in July 2012.
From 1982 to 1984, he was the finance minister, and then again from 2009 until 2012.
He has delivered the budget seven times, along with Yashwant Sinha for third most, after P. Chidambaram and Morarji Desai.
(With inputs from agencies)