Finance ministers have widely quoted poets, saints, economists and litterateurs over the years to reinforce macro-economic arguments in political and social context. Here are a few quotable quotes that finance ministers over the years have used to add poetry to the otherwise dry business of budget presentation...
Manmohan Singh (1991-92): Quoting author Victor Hugo — “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” In the same budget the former prime minister also quoted Allama Iqbal – “Yunaan-o-Misr-o-Rom sab mit gaye jahaan se/ Ab tak magar hai baaki, naam-o-nishaan hamara.” (Old civilisations of Greece, Egypt and Rome have vanished from the earth. But our civilization continues to thrive.
Jaswant Singh (2004-05, interim Budget): Self quote — “Garib ke pet me dana, grihini ki tukia mein anna. (Ensuring that the bellies of the poor and the purses of housewives never go empty).”
P Chidambaram (2005-06): Quoting economist Amartya Sen — “Growth of GNP or of individual incomes can, of course, be very important as a means to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by the members of the society. But freedoms depend also on other determinants, such as social and economic arrangements (for example, facilities for education and health care) as well as political and civil rights.”
P Chidambaram (2006-07): Quoting Swami Vivekananda — “We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. The wind is blowing; those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is that the fault of the wind? ... We make our own destiny.”
P Chidambaram (2007-08): Quoting Saint Tiruvalluvar “Uzhavinar Kai Madangin Illai Vizhaivathoom Vittame Enbarkum Nilai. (If ploughmen keep their hands folded, even sages claiming renunciation cannot find salvation)”
“Kodai Ali Sengol Kudi Ombal Nangum Udaiyanam Vendharkku Oli. (Generous grants, compassion, righteous rule and succour to the downtrodden are the hallmark of good governance)”
P Chidambaram (2008-09): Quoting Indira Gandhi — “The more one does, the more one attempts, the more one is capable of doing”. What I have narrated so far is indeed proof of more inclusive growth, but if you ask me “can we do better?, my answer would be “we can and we should.”
Pranab Mukherjee (2009-10): Quoting Kautilya, author of Arthashastra — “Just as one plucks fruits from a garden as they ripen, so shall a King have revenue collected as it becomes due. Just as one does not collect unripe fruits, he shall avoid taking wealth that is not due because that will make the people angry and spoil the very sources of revenue.”
Pranab Mukherjee (2009-10, interim Budget): Quoting economist Amartya Sen — “Along with old slogan of ‘growth with equity’, we also need a new commitment towards ‘downturn with security’, given the fact that occasional downturns are common - possibly inescapable - in market economies”
Pranab Mukherjee (2010-11): Quoting Kautilya, author of Arthashastra — “Thus, a wise collector general shall conduct the work of revenue collection.... in a manner that production and consumption should not be injuriously affected.... financial prosperity depends on public prosperity, abundance of harvest and prosperity of commerce, among other things.”
Pranab Mukherjee (2012-13): Quoting from Shakespeare’s Hamlet — “I must be cruel only to be kind”.
Arun Jaitley (2015-16): Poet not known - “Kuchh toh gul khilaye hain, kuchh abhi khilaaney hain/ Par baagh mein ab bhi kaante kuchh puraney hain.” (We have made a few flowers bloom and have to bloom more, but there are a few old thorns in the garden.)
Arun Jaitley (2016-2017): Poet not known - Kashti chalaane walon ne jab haar kar di patwar haemin/Lehar lehar toofan mile aur mauj mauj manjdhaar haemin/Phir bhi dikhaya hei hamane aur phir yeh dikha denge sabko/In halato mein aata hai daria karna paar hame. (When the exhausted sailors handed the oar of the boat to us, everywhere we faced storms and rapids. But we have showed and will keep on showing that we know how to cross the river in such conditions.)