On February 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is poised to achieve a significant milestone in Indian fiscal history as she presents her sixth consecutive budget, an accomplishment shared only by Morarji Desai. This achievement is not only a testament to her resilience but also makes her the second Finance Minister in the country to achieve such a rare feat. Nirmala Sitharaman took charge of the finance ministry in July 2019, marking a historic moment as the first full-time woman Finance Minister in India.
Having already presented five full budgets, this upcoming budget speech will mark a shift for Sitharaman as it will be her first Interim Budget. This move places her ahead of predecessors like Manmohan Singh, Arun Jaitley, P Chidambaram, and Yashwant Sinha, all of whom presented five full budgets consecutively. The only other Finance Minister to present six consecutive budgets was Morarji Desai, who went on to become the Prime Minister and holds the record for presenting a total of 10 budgets, the highest in Indian history.
Nirmala Sitharaman entered the finance ministry after the 2019 general elections and, in doing so, became the second woman to present the budget after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the financial year 1970-71. This year’s Interim Budget holds particular significance as it aligns with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April-May. The interim budget will serve as a crucial financial framework to manage government expenses during the transition period until the new government assumes office.
While Sitharaman’s past budgets were focused on setting the economic agenda, the Interim Budget will likely prioritize stability and continuity. The full budget for the financial year 2024-25 is expected to be presented by the new government that emerges victorious in the 2024 general elections. This transition period emphasizes the importance of a strategic fiscal plan to ensure smooth governance during the political handover.
To witness this historic budget presentation live, viewers can tune in to Sansad TV and DD News. The live telecast will also be accessible on the official YouTube channel of the Press Information Bureau. For those preferring a digital experience, the Union Budget Mobile App, available in both English and Hindi, can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices or accessed through the Union Budget Web Portal. This move towards digital accessibility aligns with the government’s commitment to transparency and inclusivity in disseminating crucial financial information.
As Nirmala Sitharaman prepares to present her sixth consecutive budget, she not only adds another chapter to her illustrious career but also reinforces the evolving role of women in shaping India’s economic policies. Her journey from breaking gender barriers to achieving a historic budgetary milestone is a testament to her dedication and the evolving landscape of leadership in the country’s financial domain.