FM mixes poetry with the prosaic as he explains hard work required to ‘revive’ Punjab | punjab | Hindustan Times
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FM mixes poetry with the prosaic as he explains hard work required to ‘revive’ Punjab

“Na raha chand sitaron ka main mohtaj kabhi, apni mehnat ke sada maine ujale dekhe (Never have I been dependent on stars and planets; I have always seen the light of my endeavours).”

punjab Updated: Jun 22, 2017 10:37 IST
Manraj Grewal Sharma
Manpreet Badal presenting the Punjab budget for 2017-18 in the state assembly.
Manpreet Badal presenting the Punjab budget for 2017-18 in the state assembly.(Photo: DPR)

The budget speech is usually a cut and dried exercise with a smattering of jargon and figures. But Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal, known for mixing politics with poetry, made it an engaging affair as he not only spouted poetry but also homilies that hit home.

Underlining the difficulties of integrating competing concerns in the budget, he took the help of Allama Iqbal, one of his favourite poets. “Pirona ek hee tasbi mein, in bikhrey huye dano ko, gar mushkil hai to iss mushkil ko aasaan kar ke chhodunga. (Stringing these scattered beads in one rosary may be difficult, but I will make the difficult easy).”

Video below: Key points from the budget

Saying that the budget was a modest bid by the Capt Amarinder Singh-led government to rouse the people of Punjab, he cited the example of ancient Greece where Socrates had to consume hemlock to shake the Greeks out of their stupor. Bhagat Singh, he added, courted martyrdom at a young age only because he wanted to awaken the conscience of the people.

He resorted to poetry again while hinting at the effort put into the annual exercise. “Na raha chand sitaron ka main mohtaj kabhi, apni mehnat ke sada maine ujale dekhe (Never have I been dependent on stars and planets; I have always seen the light of my endeavours).”

Throughout the speech, Badal was at pains to underline the sacrifice and hard work required to revive Punjab. “By dreaming, flowers do not bloom in the desert,” he declared. The end of the road may be far, he added, but they have the courage of conviction. The universe, he concluded, is generous to those who seek: “Dhoondhney walon ko duniya bhi nayi dete hain.”

Economist talk

When dwelling on the rising inequality in society, Badal quoted Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who caught many eyeballs last year when he said India’s action against NGOs and students of Jawaharlal Nehru University had put it in the club of countries such as Egypt, Russia and Turkey. India, Stiglitz had declared, has an image problem.

Badal quoted him to emphasise that the budget is dedicated to “the 99%” who don’t have the best of education, doctors, and lifestyles.

The FM also quoted French economist Thomas Piketty, known for his work charting inequality in the world, to assert that diffusion of knowledge and skills is the main equalising force.