Budget or ‘Bulga’ – Journey started in 1773

- By Aastha Prasad

Until last year I was quite baffled about why so many persons used to be expectantly excited on the budget day. Children were deprived of their undisputed right of watching their TV programmes on that day. I used to feel very irritated. What was in a Budget? Now, when I am in a Law School, I decided to demystify the Union Budget for my inquisitiveness.

I was surprised to learn that the origin of the word budget  comes from the Latin word ‘bulga’, meaning a little pouch. In French also, there was a word ‘bougette’, a little form of bouge, meaning “leather bag”. What we can understand that its first meaning in English indeed was “pouch, wallet, bag”, which naturally matches with its character and applicability today. Though, the little pouch or the wallet has been replaced by shining red briefcase for many years and red cloth-wrapped documents now.

The first official use of the term ‘Budget’ which I could gather was done by Mr.Walpole, who is considered as the first de-facto Prime Minister of Great Britain when he presented the Financial Statement in 1773.

 The first Indian Budget was presented by James Wilson on February 18, 1869. Mr Wilson was designated as Finance Member of the Indian Council that advised the Indian Viceroy.

The first Budget of Independent India was presented on November 26, 1947, by the then Finance Minister R K Sanmukham Chetty.

It was also for the first time I happened to know about the ‘Halwa Ceremony’ related to presentation of Indian Budget. Initially the details of the Budget were kept secret, deliberately, and for that the staff involved in printing of budget were kept isolated in the North Block for about a week ahead of the presentation of the Budget and it started with a customary ‘Halwa Ceremony’ a household traditional sweet prepared for any important work.

When I asked my father about the Budget, he replied to me in a very simple way. It is an exercise of balancing the income and expenditure and for that generally the rich ones ‘Budges’ i.e. makes room for others by making some more contribution to the Government kitty and the deserving class ‘gets’ it through various schemes of the government. That is Budget. Is that so simple?