On November 26, 1947 R.K. Shanmukham Chetty had presented the first budget of Independent India. But actually it was a review of the economy and no new taxes were proposed as the budget day for 1948-49 was just 95 days away.
From then onwards an interim budget began to mean a budget for a short period. Chetty resigned a few days later due to differences with Prime Minister Nehru. K.C. Neogy then took charge of the Finance portfolio and held that office for just 35 days.
John Mathai became the third Finance Minister of India presenting the budget for 1950-51, the first budget for the Republic of India. The next Finance Minister, C.D. Deshmukb presented the first budget in the first elected Parliament on the basis of adult franchise. Budget papers began to be prepared in Hindi from 1955-56.
In 1959 Morarji Desai became the Finance Minister. He has presented the maximum number of budgets so far- ten. They included five annual and one interim budgets during his first stint and three final and one interim in the second tenure when he was both Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Morarji Desai was the only Finance Minister to have had the opportunity to present two budgets on his birthday —in 1964 and 1968. He was born on February 29.
After the fourth General Elections in 1967, Morarji Desai once again became the Finance Minister. This was his second stint. After he resigned, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, took over the Finance portfolio. So far, she has been the only woman Finance Minister.
Rajiv Gandhi presented the budget for 1987-88 after V P Singh quit his government, and in the process became only the third Prime Minister to present a budget after his mother and grandfather. Yashwant Sinha became the Finance Minister and presented the interim budget for 1991-92.
In the election held in May 1991, the Congress returned to power and Manmohan Singh became the Finance Minister. This was the first occasion when the interim and final budgets were presented by two ministers of two different political parties. Manmohan Singh opened the economy, en-couraged foreign investments, reduced peak importduty from 300 plus percent to 50 percent and introduced the concept of service tax.
After the elections another non-Congress ministry assumed office. So, a final budget for 1996-97 was presented by P. Chidambaram of the then Tamil Maanila Congress. It was the second time that an interim and final budgets were presented by two ministers of different political parties.
Following a constitutional crisis the I.K. Gujral Ministry was on its way out and a special session of Parliament was convened only to pass Chidambaram’s 1997-98 budget. It was passed without a debate.
Until 2000, the Union Budget was announced at 5 pm on the last working day of the month of February. This practice was inherited from the British, when their Parliament would pass the budget in the noon followed by India in the evening of the day. Yashwant Sinha changed the timing to 11 a.m.