Do you know who presented independent India's first Union Budget?
In a couple of days from now (February 1 to be exact), Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the budget. With the economy going through a crisis, there are high expectations that Sitharaman would announce steps to provide relief. As we wait for the budget, let's take a look at the first budget of independent India, that was presented by RK Shanmukham Chetty.
In 1892, Chetty was born in Coimbatore and studied at Madras Christian College and Madras Law College. After studies, he took the political plunge. He was associated with both the Indian nationalist Swaraj Party and Justice Party. Between 1935 and 1941, Chetty served as Diwan of Cochin Kingdom. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru surprisingly made Chetty the Finance Minister, despite his British leanings.
As he rose to present the first budget on November 26, 1947, Chetty called it a historic day. "I rise to present the first Budget of a free and independent India. This occasion may well be considered an historic one and I count it a rare privilege that it has fallen to me to be the Finance Minister to present this budget," he said.
Chetty presented the budget when India went through a bloody partition, wherein millions lost their lives and the country stared at bleak future. Hinting that he was aware of the responsibility bestowed on him, Chetty had asked all parliamentarians to wholeheartedly and sympathetically extend support to him. The budget he presented was meant for the period between August 15, 1947, and March 31, 1948.
The revenue targeted in Chetty's budget was Rs. 171.15 crore. At the time, the fiscal deficit was estimated at Rs. 26.24 crore. Rs. 197.29 crore was estimated as a total expenditure. Of this, Rs. 92.74 crore was set aside for defense services. For capital outlay, Chetty provided an expenditure of Rs. 56.59 crore, that included Rs. 20.39 crore for grants to provinces.