Here goes my interview with a newspaper editor after the Union budget:
Manas Chakravarty: What does the government do with taxes in the budget?
Newspaper editor: It tinkers with them, pockets them and eyes them. Sometimes it gives them a holiday.
MC: What do taxes do?
NE: They pinch, they give a taxing time.
MC: What are the various positives in the budget?
NE: Positive vibes, positive steps, huge positive, long-term positive, positive surprise, positive headway.
MC: Could you explain the last one?
NE: Yes, the opposite would be negative tailway.
MC: Ah. What does the budget draw?
MC: And how does it draw?
NE: On expected lines.
MC: Are there any navigational aids in the budget?
NE: Yes. It has road maps, it charts out direction, it draws up a fiscal consolidation path, it is on track, but it could be derailed.
MC: By what?
NE: By a shock.
MC: What kind of shock?
NE: The crude kind.
MC: What did the markets do during the budget?
NE: They zoomed, they lost steam, they vaulted, they were relieved, they cheered, they gyrated, they rebounded, they spiked, they reeled, they yo-yo-ed.
MC: What did the budget numbers do?
NE: They didn't add up and they flattered to deceive.
MC: What kind of reforms do people expect?
NE: Big ticket, sometimes big bang.
MC: Does anything else happen to reforms?
NE: Yes, they are rolled out, rolled back, backpedalled. They also get a leg up.
MC: Where was the finance minister during the budget?
NE: In the saddle.
MC: What was he high on?
MC: What happens to duties?
NE: They are hiked or slashed, prices harden or are cushioned, oil prices are hiked, rates get a boost and exports spurt.
MC: What do price hikes do?
NE: They loom.
MC: What do you do to the fiscal deficit?
NE: We rein it in.
MC: Anything else you rein in?
NE: We keep a tight leash on expenditure.
MC: What do subsidies do?
NE: They outgo.
MC: What does the finance minister seek?
MC: What else does he do?
NE: He unveils.
MC: What do you raise on budget day?
NE: Doubts. Also red flags.
MC: What kind of potato are reforms?
NE: Political hot potatoes.
MC: What does the finance minister squeeze?
NE: Expenditure. Also margins.
MC: What does the devil do during the budget?
NE: He lurks.
MC: Where does he lurk?
NE: In the fine print.
MC: What happens to growth?
NE: It is bet on, gambled with. Also pushed, driven and powered.
MC: By what?
NE: By the engine of growth.
MC: What does reality do in a budget?
NE: It bites.
MC: How do you gather taxes?
NE: By a net. Sometimes you use a kitty.
MC: Who in industry talks about the budget?
MC: What kind of honchos?
NE: Head honchos.
MC: Any other factors you saw in the budget?
NE: The wow and feel good factors.
MC: What does inflation do?
NE: It spooks us.
MC: What do you take the wind out of?
MC: And lastly, what demon did the budget slay?
NE: The recurring demon of unspent capital funds, according to the Times of India March 1 edition.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal