Union Budget 2019: The Curious History Of The "Red Briefcase"

Union Budget 2019: The Curious History Of The "Red Briefcase"

Union Budget 2019: The Curious History Of The "Red Briefcase" 

New Delhi: This morning, the familiar "red briefcase" made its annual appearance in the hands of Union Minister Piyush Goyal, as he smiled for the cameras before presenting the Interim Budget. The briefcase has changed colors over the time, from black, tan and brown too.

The significance of the briefcase? 

The origin of the word, "Budget" originates from the French "bougette" or leather bag. 

Started from the 18th century, the tradition of the "budget case" began when the Chancellor of the Exchequer or Britain's budget chief was asked to 'open the budget' while presenting his annual statement.

William E. Gladstone, the then British budget chief in 1860 carried his papers in a red suitcase with the Queen's monogram in gold. He went on to become prime minister. The same bag was used by several governments.

RK Shanmukham Chetty, presented the India's first budget in 1947, months after independence. He appeared to carry a leather bag. TT Krishnamachari, ten years later carried something that looked like a file bag. Jawaharlal Nehru - he presented the budget in 1958 - carried a black briefcase.


Many Finance Ministers have carried the briefcase:

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held up a tan briefcase in the past.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, as the finance minister who delivered the iconic 1991 proposals, carried a black bag.

Yashwant Sinha, finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led governments, carried black too, a buckles affair.

As Manmohan Singh's finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee took to a red briefcase similar to the Gladstone case of Britain. According to reports, it was velvet.