Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the post-budget press conference at National Media Centre in New Delhi, (PTI)
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the post-budget press conference at National Media Centre in New Delhi, (PTI)

Budget 2021: Sitharaman quotes Tagore, talks of cricket to drive her point home

  • While ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar seems to be a personal favourite with Sitharaman, she quoted Tagore while referring to India emerging from the pandemic.
By Sunetra Choudhury | Edited by Sparshita Saxena, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2021 10:30 PM IST

Every Union budget is presented in a distinct rhetorical style. While some finance ministers of yesteryears have fallen back on Bollywood one-liners to make their point, FM Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday used some literary references and India's historic win against Australia in cricket in her budget speech.

While ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar seems to be a personal favourite with Sitharaman, having featured in her 2020 speech as well, she quoted Rabindranath Tagore while referring to India emerging from the pandemic.

Quoting from his collection Fireflies, she referred to the dawn of a new era. ''Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark''. Tagore has become a common motif with all political parties in the run-up to elections in West Bengal later this year.

The finance minister's second poetic reference came from 'Thirukkural' by ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar. "A King/Ruler is the one who creates and acquires wealth, protects and distributes it for common good,'' she quoted, adding, "Our tax system has to be transparent, efficient, and should promote investments and employment in our country. At the same time, it should put a minimum burden on our taxpayers.''

Also read: Budget 2021 - Sitharaman’s 2.25k crore infra push for 4 poll-bound states


But when it comes to references, perhaps one can't go wrong with a cricket reference in India. Sitharaman referred to the team's performance as an indicator of what Indians are capable of when faced with adversity. "I can’t help but recall the joy that we, as a cricket-loving nation, felt after Team India’s recent spectacular success in Australia. It has reminded us of all the qualities that we as people, particularly our youth, epitomise of having abundant promise and the unsuppressed thirst to perform and succeed,'' she said.

Keeping in line with the paperless theme of the Budget session, Sitharaman's trademark Bahi Khata contained a tablet this year instead of the usual Budget papers. The red Bahi Khata or ledger made of fabric, she had said in 2019, was an indicator of the government's letting go of colonial practices. At that time, former finance minister P Chidambaram had remarked that an iPad would have been a far better choice.

Incidentally, Sitharaman's speech was much shorter than last year's, which was recorded as one of the longest budget speeches. The minister wrapped up the speech in an hour and 50 minutes while last year it went on for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

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