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History of Union Budgets in India

History of Union Budgets in India: The article reflects on the important union budgets since 1947, the imbibed traditions, and the significance of Union Budget 2023.

Important FootPrints in Union Budget Since 1947:


In the year 1951-52, John Mathi made an announcement about the creation of the planning commission, and the Prime Minister, appointed a Chairperson, then it was Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. With modifications, the planning commission has been reintroduced as NITI Aayog in 2017.


The concept of wealth tax was collected on the personal assets owned by the property holders. The applicable tax was about 1 percent on assets over INR 30 lakhs.


The finance minister Morarji Desai released a budget known as the People’s Budget that concentrated on excise reforms. It was a self-assessment tax for manufacturers, including tax liability in excess TDS and advance tax calculated by the manufacturer.


The objective of the MAT is to bring the zero tax paying companies into the ambit of the minimum tax rate and it is up to 15 percent as of 2021.


P. Chidambaram reduced the tax rate cut for individuals from 40 percent to 30 percent and for domestic companies it was slashed from 40 percent to 35 percent. This year, the government opened an innovative voluntary disclosure of income streams ( VDIS) and the disclosed income shall not have punitive action by the IT department.


Under the finance minister, Arun Jaitley the wealth tax was abolished in 2016. An individual earning an income on wealth over and above INR 1 crore was made to pay an additional 2 percent, a super rich surcharge on a net income. If the income rises between INR 2.0 and INR 5.0 crore then the levied tax is a 25 percent surcharge and when it is over INR 5 crore the levied tax will be a 37 % surcharge.


The railway budget is separated from the Union Budget, and the funds are managed for multi-model transport ( waterways, highways, and railways) in an efficient manner.


Due to the lockdown, the entire budget release in 2021-22 was made digital and all measures were undertaken that provided economic impetus to various sectors. It became the first paperless budget.

Finance Ministers | Budget Presentations

Since 1947, several finance ministers have made presentations and you can make a brief record of it. Morarji Desai, honorable Prime Minister, in his political capacity, had presented 10 budgets, followed by P. Chidambaram’s nine presentations. Likewise, Pranab Mukherjee gave 8 presentations, Yashwant Sinha, Yashwantrao Chavan, C.D.Deshmukh, and T.T. Krishnamachari recited 6 Union Budgets. Moreover, Nirmala Sitharaman made 5 budget presentations.

The government of India has released 73 annual budgets, 14 interim budgets, four special budgets, and mini-budgets since 1947.

Union Budget of India:

  1. Written in Article 112 of the Indian Constitution, the Union Budget of India is known as the Annual Financial Statement, the annual budget of the Indian Republic.
  2. The Department of Economic Affairs, a composite of the Finance Ministry, is a responsible body to produce the Union Budget every year.
  3. The finance bill ( the appropriate bill) needs to be passed by the Lok sabha on or before April 01, which is the beginning of the financial year.
  4. An Interim budget is a complete set of accounts dealing with expenditures, and receipts. In fact, it is similar to the full budget.

Traditional Activity Took a New Shape for Union Budget:

Time of Budget Announcement:

From 1947 until 1999, the Union Budget was conducted on the last day of February month at 5:00 pm. 

Change of Budget Announcement Date:

  • Arun Jaitley, then Finance Minister of the NDA government, announced the presentation to be on February 01, 2017.
  • Likewise, the railway budget was merged with the Union Budget in 2017 which was independently presented for 92 years.

Halwa Ceremony and Budget Briefcase

  • The budget documents are put in print at least a week ahead of the budget release in the parliament.
  • It is customary to prepare Halwa in large quantities and serve the supportive staff and officers. Through the process of budget preparation, the staff lives in North Block in isolation.
  • Since R.K Shanmukham Chetty was the first finance minister, the budget was carried in a leather briefcase into the parliament house.
  • On July 5, 2019, the briefcase culture was changed to Bahi-Khata and further on February 01, 2021, the first paperless budget was initiated.
  • During the current year, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India Mission is shaped to strengthen the digital movement.


R.K.Shanmukham Chetty released the first union budget of independent India on November 26, 1947. The Union Budget held the value of total revenue at ₹171.15 crore: fiscal deficit was ₹24.59 crore: total expenditure was estimated at ₹197.29 crore: Defence expenditure at ₹92.74 crore.

Union Budget 2023-24: Key Targets

  1. The Union Budget 2023-24 estimates a gross borrowing target for the financial year 2023-24 is  ₹15.43 lakh crore.
  2. The Union Budget 2023-24 has a fiscal deficit for the financial year 2023-24 and is estimated at 6.4% of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
  3. The estimated glide path in regard to the fiscal deficit budget for the year 2026 is 4.5%.
  4. Central Excise duties shall be increased on silver doors and gold bars. Contrary, the government Union Budget 2023-24 gives a big push for the ‘Make in India’ products and services. The government has given a huge discount on Li batteries, mobile, TV, Chimney manufacturing, etc. 

Union Budget 2023-24 Sets Seven Priorities

In the Union Budget Speech of 2023-24, the finance minister, Nirmala has emphasized on seven priorities.

The government aims to empower women by adopting self-help groups in the areas of raw material supply, product marketing, and branding. The priorities of the Union Budget 2023 are inclusive development, infra and investment, youth power, financial sector, unleashing potential, and reaching the last mile.

Themes of the Union Budget 2023:

  1. The government of India plans to promote and succeed in the following areas during the financial year 2023-24.
  2. They do include 5 huge infra-push projects, the auction of 5G, making 400 vanda bharat trains operational, the introduction of virtual currency under the tax scanner, and the mental health national program.

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