Nirmala Sitharaman: India finance minister ditches ‘colonial’ budget briefcase

Nirmala Sitharaman: India finance minister ditches 'colonial' budget briefcase

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Image caption Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her maiden budget on Friday

India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chose to ditch the "colonial" briefcase while presenting her maiden budget to parliament.

Ms Sitharaman, instead, carried a bright red traditional ledger known as bahi-khata in Hindi.

Her chief economic adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian said it symbolised a "departure from the slavery of western thought".

This is the first budget of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's second term.

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Ms Sitharaman, who was previously India's defence minister, has announced several measures including a housing boost for the middle-class, incentives for new start-ups and measures to improve infrastructure.

She is the first female finance minister after Indira Gandhi who also held the portfolio in 1970-71 while she was prime minister.

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The parliamentary speaker, Om Birla, made it a point to congratulate her as the first "full-time female finance minister" after she finished the speech.

However, her bold choice of budget-carrying accessory has caused a lot of chatter on Indian social media.

While there were many who lauded her commitment to Indian tradition, others ridiculed it, asking questions like why she drove to parliament in a vehicle instead of travelling there by bullock cart and asking if her speech was printed on palm leaves.

Image Copyright @z_binu @z_binu Report
Twitter post by @z_binu: Sometimes it's good when New India goes back to traditional and authentic methods.  Good to see the budget documents being kept in a four fold red cloth "bahi khata" instead of a briefcase.#Budget2019 #BudgetForNewIndia Image Copyright @z_binu @z_binu Report
Image Copyright @RahulAcharya93 @RahulAcharya93 Report
Twitter post by @RahulAcharya93: Bharatiya 'Bahi - Khata' has taken over the British 'Brief Case' which was the symbol of Slavery. India is Changing #Budget2019 Image Copyright @RahulAcharya93 @RahulAcharya93 Report
Image Copyright @KamalK_2013 @KamalK_2013 Report
Twitter post by @KamalK_2013: #FinanceMinister  #NirmalaSitharaman presenting #BahiKhata in parliament in britsh language Image Copyright @KamalK_2013 @KamalK_2013 Report
Image Copyright @sakshi_411 @sakshi_411 Report
Twitter post by @sakshi_411: The Changing Traditions .. #Budget2019 #NirmalaSitharaman Image Copyright @sakshi_411 @sakshi_411 Report

The budget briefcase, which was once described by writer Samanth Subramanian as a "giant colonial holdover, harking back to a similar budget speech that has been delivered by Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer for many decades".

However, Ms Sitharaman is not the first finance minister to depart from the briefcase.

The history of Britain's budget briefcase

India's first finance minister RK Shanmukham Chetty also carried his budget speech in a leather satchel although to be fair, it looked very much like a briefcase.

Image Copyright @IndiaHistorypic @IndiaHistorypic Report
Twitter post by @IndiaHistorypic: 1947    First Finance Minister Shanmukham Chetty With His Briefcase  #Budget Image Copyright @IndiaHistorypic @IndiaHistorypic Report

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