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President’s Speech to a Separate Rail Budget: A History of Colonial Budget Practices

File image of President Pranab Mukherjee. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi: The Presidential Address to the joint session of Parliament kicks off the budget session on Tuesday. This practice is borrowed from the practice of the Queen of England’s speech to the House of Lords at the opening of Parliament of the United Kingdom.

News18 has compiled a list of other colonial budget practices.

Separate Rail Budgets: In 1921 the British colonial government decided to separate the finances of Indian Railways from the general government finances, thus giving rise to separate budgets, a tradition that has continued till this year. The railway was an important tool to drain Indian’s wealth by expropriating raw materials and distributing finished products. The British merited it important enough to warrant a separate budget. By merging the rail budget into the general budget the government has signaled an end to a 92 year old colonial practice.

Changing the Budget timing: Until the year 2000, the Indian budget was unveiled on the last day of February at 5 pm. This was a colonial practice inherited from the days of the Raj. The budget of the United Kingdom used to be presented in London at 12 noon GMT, followed by the Indian budget in New Delhi at 5 pm IST. Brokers in London would benefit by trading on UK stock markets with tips gleaned from the Indian budget, which would be transmitted via telegraph. Then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha decided to end this colonial practice once and for all.