Union budget | When finance ministers gave poetic budget speeches

1. Budget 1991 | Dr. Manmohan Singh

Often regarded as one of independent India’s most influential budgets, Finance Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in what is considered to be the longest budget speech in terms of words (18,650 words), quoted the famous Urdu poet Allama Iqbal:

“Yunan-o-Misr-o-Roma sab mit gaye jahan se ab tak magar
Hai baki naam-o-nishan hamara,
Kuchh baat hai ke hasti mit’ti nahin hamari
Sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zaman hamara”

Translation: Greeks, Egyptians and Romans are all gone, but we are still here. There must be something special that we still exist despite the whole world being against us.

He also included Victor Hugo’s famous quote, “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”, in his speech.

2. Budget 1992 | Dr. Manmohan Singh

Also the following year, the Minister of Finance did not hesitate to quote another Urdu poet, Muzaffar Razmi.

“Kuchh ease bhee manzar hain taareekh ki nazron mein,
Lamhon ne khataa ki thi, sadiyon ne sazaa paayee.”

Translation: Even this has happened in history; mistakes made in moments have created problems for centuries.

3. Budget 2001 | Yashwant Sinha

Yashwant Sinha delivered a poem to emphasize that the reforms outlined in the budget aimed for second-generation reforms, growth and equity with effectiveness, although the identity of the quoted poet is unknown.

“Taqaazaa hai waqt kaa ke toofaan se joojho,
kahaan tak chaloge kinaare kinaare.”

Translation: The times force you to fight the storms. How long will you keep walking on the shore?

4. Budget 2004 | Jaswan Singh

In the draft budget presented by Jaswant Sinha under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Minister of Finance incorporated a couplet by an unknown poet:

“Garib ke pet mein dana,
Grihini ki tukia mein anna.”

Translation: Food in the belly of the poor, and money in the purse of the housewife.

5. Budget 2013 | P Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram used a couplet of Tirukkural, a classic Tamil work by Thiruvalluvar comprising 1,330 verses, to illustrate the concept that India can go further if the right decisions and choices are made.

“Kalangathu kanda vinaikkan thulangkathu thookkang kadinthu seyal.”

Translation: What the eye sees clearly as right, with a firm will and a carefree spirit, which man should do.

6. Budget 2015 | Arun Jaitley

The former finance minister, who presented his first budget for a full year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s astonishing election victory, predicted growth in the fiscal year starting in April would rise to between 8 and 8.5 %. He also incorporated a verse into his speech:

“Kuchh to gul khilaye hain, kuchh abhi khilaane hain,
By baagh mein ab bhi kaante kuchh puraane hain.”

Translation: We have made some flowers bloom and need to bloom more, but there are some old thorns in the garden.

7. Budget 2016 | Arun Jaitley

The following year, Jaitley said he knew how to restore the “poor” status of the economy he had inherited from the previous government. He then took the opportunity to recite an Urdu couplet on a similar situation.

“Kashti chalaane walon ne jab haar kar di patwar hamein,
Lehar lehar toofan mile aur mauj mauj manjdhaar hamein.
Phir bhi dikhaya hei hamane aur phir yeh dikha denge sabko,
In halato mein aata hai daria karna paar hame.”

Translation: When the exhausted sailors handed us the oar of the boat, everywhere we faced storms and rapids. But we have shown and will continue to show that we know how to cross the river in such conditions.

8. Budget 2019 | Nirmala Sitharaman

While presenting India’s big and bold goal to build a $5 trillion economy in the next few years, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman referenced a verse by Urdu writer Manzur Hashmi.

“Yaqin ho to koi rasta nikalta hai
hawa ki ot bhi le kar chirag jalta hai.”

Translation: You can find a way if you trust yourself, just as an earthen lamp can also light up despite the air blowing around it.

9. Budget 2020 | Nirmala Sitharaman

The following year, Sitharaman, in his opening address for the Union Budget 2020, quoted a passage from a poem written by Kashmiri poet and Sahitya Akademi laureate, Pandit Dina Nath Kaul. The poem makes reference to Shalimar Bagh and Dal Lake in Kashmir, emphasizing that India belongs to all its people. This came after the repeal of Article 370, which granted special status to Kashmir.

“Hamara vatan, khilte hue Shalimar Bagh jaisa
Hamara vatan, Dal jheel main khilte hue kamal jaisa
Nau jawanon ke garam khoon jaisa
Mera vatan, tera vata, hamara vatan
Duniya ka sabse pyaara vatan”

Translation: Our country is like a blooming Shalimar Bagh, our country is like the lotus that blooms in Dal Lake; it’s like the boiling blood of youth, my country, your country, the most beloved country in the world.

She also quoted the Tamil poet, Thiruvalluvar, in the 160-minute speech.

“Piniyinmai Selvam Vilaivinpam Emam Aniyenpa Naattiv Vaindhu”

Translation: The five jewels of the country are good health, wealth, agricultural productivity, happiness and good defense.

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