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When our finance ministers shunned number crunching for philosophy

Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 2:44pm IST | Place: New Delhi

Although the budget has nothing to do with either literature or poetry but to make it interesting, yet   many   finance   ministers’   have   employed   either   literature   or   famous   quotes   to   telling   effect. We profile such incidents (since 1984-85) when Pranab Mukherjee, as the finance minister, spoke out some lines of Kautilaya. The report also illustrates several such other episodes that have made budgets interesting. 

2012-13 (Pranab Mukherjee): Quoting Bollywood
“The Year 2012 marks the beginning of the centenary year of Indian cinema. Despite the change in titles from Dada Saheb Phalke’s “Raja Harishchandra” to “Ra. One” in recent times, the industry has played a pivotal role in unifying our country in the wake of her considerable diversity.”

2011-12 (Pranab Mukherjee): Quoting Lord Indra 
“While, like last year, I seek the blessings of Lord Indra to bestow on us timely and bountiful monsoons, I would pray to Goddess Lakshmi as well. I think it is a good strategy to diversify one's risks.”

2010-11 (Pranab Mukherjee): Quoting Mahatma Gandhi 
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi "Just as the universe is contained in the self, so is India contained in the villages". 
While formulating them, I have been guided by the principles of sound tax administration as embodied in   the following words of Kautilya: 
 "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." 

2009-10 (Pranab Mukherjee): Quoting Kautilya 
The short term fiscal stimulus has to be balanced against long term prudence   and fiscal sustainability objectives. To quote Kautilya, “In the interest of the prosperity of the country, a King shall be diligent in foreseeing the possibility of calamities, try to avert them before they arise, overcome those which happen,   remove all obstructions to economic activity and prevent loss of revenue to the state” 
Madam Speaker, before I turn to my tax proposals, I cannot resist the temptation of re-visiting Kautilya. 
He said and I quote, “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.” 

2009-10 (Interim) Pranab Mukherjee: Quoting Prof. Amartya Sen

We also have to take note of Prof. Amartya Sen’s observation and I quote “along with old slogan of ‘growth with equity’, we also need a new commitment towards ‘down turn with security’, given the fact that occasional downturns are common - possibly inescapable - in market economies” unquote

2008 -09 (P .Chidambaram): Quoting Indira Gandhi & Saint Tiruvalluvar
Mr. Speaker, just as I sat down to write this speech, I received a slim volume titled "Indira Gandhi -Selected Sayings". Within minutes, I found this gem and I quote, "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." Budget 2008-09 is about raising our sights and doing more and doing better.
Those words will guide the UPA Government. As always, I turned to my muse, Saint Tiruvalluvar, for guidance and reassurance. 2,000 years ago he set the benchmark for good governance in the following immortal words:"Kodai Ali Sengol Kudi Ombal Nangum Udaiyanam Vendharkku Oli" [Generous grants, compassion, righteous rule and succour to the downtrodden Are the hallmarks of good governance].

2007-08 (P.Chidambaram): Quoting Saint Tiruvalluvar
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have devoted the last 15 minutes or so to agriculture. There is no dearth of schemes; there is no dearth of funds. What needs to be done is to deliver the intended outcomes. 
Saint Tiruvalluvar watches over us and warns:-

"Uzhavinar Kai Madangin Illai Vizhaivathoom

Vittame Enbarkum Nilai"

[If ploughmen keep their hands folded
Even sages claiming renunciation cannot find salvation]

As Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate, said, "Faster growth rate is essential for faster reduction in poverty. There is no other trick to it. I shall now take up our main challenge: agriculture. I may recall the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, who said “Everything else can wait, but not agriculture".

2006 – 07 (P.Chidambaram)
I am aware of the severe difficulties faced by farmers in the last two years. Ours is a compassionate Government. I also have severe fiscal constraints. When faced with a dilemma, I usually turn to my favourite poet-philosopher, Saint Tiruvalluvar. Writing over 2,000 years ago, he said:"Karumam Sidhaiyamal Kannoda VallarkuUrimai Udaithu Iv Ulagu"
(The world is his who does his job. With compassion)
The young people of India are building castles, it may appear that those castles are in the air, but as Henry David Thoreau said: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
Over a hundred years ago, a restless young man in his quest for the core of all spirituality admonished his fellow men in the following words: "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." Those are the immortal words of Swami Vivekananda. Let us believe in our destiny, let us make our future.

2005-06 (P.Chidambaram): Quoting Amartya Sen
One of India’s proudest a son, Dr Amartya Sen, argues in his book “Development as Freedom” that development is a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. He says, “Growth of GNP or of individual incomes can, of course, be very important as means to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by themembers 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.”
More or less the same idea was articulated two thousand years ago by Saint Tiruvalluvar who said: “Pini Inmai Selvam Vilaivu Inbam Emam Ani Enba Nattirkku Iv Iyndhu”
(Health, wealth, produce, the happiness that is the result, and security
These five, the learned say, are the ornaments of a polity)

2004-05 (P.Chidambaram): Quoting Saint Tiruvalluvar
The countries of the world, India included, have set for themselves the Millennium Development Goals. Our date with destiny is not at the end of the millennium, but in the year 2015. Will we achieve those goals? In the eleven years that remain, it is in our hands to shape our destiny. Progress is not always on alinear path, nor is it inevitable. Two thousand years ago, Saint Tirvalluvar said:
"Aran Izhukkathu Allavai Neeki Maran IzhukkaMaanam Udayathu Arasu"
(They are good rulers who observe ethics, commit no crime and walk the path of honour and courage)

2004-05 (Interim) Jaswant Singh: Self Quote
It is from seeking national contentment that objectives are born: "Garib ke pet me dana, Grihini ki tukiamein anna."

2003-04 (Jaswant Singh)
Sir, may I, in humility, say that this does cover the first part of my assurance: "Garib ke pet me dana,….".
It is my conviction, Mr. Speaker that these measures will result in "Grihini ki tukia mein anna": the second part of my assurance

2002-03 (Yashwant Sinha)
Using satire to help Bollywood: With the industry status to the entertainment sector brought into effect last year, banks and financial institutions have sanctioned more than Rs 236 crore, so far, for film and TV software production. Goodmoney will certainly lead to good films. Film exports have been roughly doubling every year, during the last 3 years. It is time we brought about a fiscal regime to usher in more "Khushi" and take away the remaining "Gham" from the entertainment industry. "Filhal" I shall have more to say on this in Part ‘B’ of my speech.

1991-92 (Dr. Manmohan Singh): Quoting Iqbal
Dr. Manmohan Singh quoted Urdu poet iqbal’s couplet while presenting the budget speech in 1991-92.“Yunaan-o-Misr-o-Roma, sab mitt gaye jahaan say/Ab tak magar hai baqi, naam-o-nishan hamara(Classical Greece, Pharaonic Egypt, Imperial Rome are all dust/But our Indiaancient, unchanged,alive—lives forever).”




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