Halwa Ceremony is the traditional start of budget programs, as per “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye.” A large pot of pudding was prepared. All officers and employees of the Ministry received it, including the Finance Minister. We all ate pudding together.
Nirmala Sitharaman will present the budget in the Lok Sabha next Tuesday. The government is expected to focus on economic recovery and on enhancing and strengthening the country’s health system due to the pandemic. The Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday that the budget would be paperless this time.
This is not the first time the digital budget has been presented, as it was also presented in 2021. This year one thing is new: The Halwa Ceremony, which is traditionally held every year before the presentation of the budget, did not take place this year. Instead, sweets were distributed to employees. The Union Finance Ministry on Thursday began the final phase of the budget-making process for 2021-22 by distributing sweets instead of the traditional halwa ceremony, according to guidelines for COVID-appropriate treats.
What is the Halwa Ceremony?
Halwa ceremony is traditionally celebrated before the printing of the budget as a sweet start. Following the end of the long-running budget-making process, the printing of the budget was formally flagged off after eating sweets. The Finance Minister shakes the kadhai and sweets are served to the officials. There is a special printing press in the basement of the North Block of the Finance Ministry, where the ceremony is held.
The locked-up basement of North Block
Several popular claims claim that Finance Ministry officials and employees related to the budget remain locked in the basement of the North Block for about 10 days before the budget is presented to Parliament. Complete confidentiality is maintained. There are allegations that officers and employees of the ministry are monitored round-the-clock by the Intelligence Bureau, and they cannot have contact with loved ones. Even phone calls are prohibited. CCTVs have a strong network and a jammer prevents them from being contacted from outside.
The budget document was printed in Rashtrapati Bhavan until 1950, after which it was moved to Minto Road and eventually to North Block’s basement due to a leak. Currently, this printing press prints the budget permanently.
What is the digital budget?
Every time a budget has been printed, this time also a digital budget will be presented. On February 1, the Union Budget 2022-23 will be made available on the budget website www.indiabudget.gov.in and on the Union Budget Mobile App. The app will provide complete documentation of the Union Budget, from Budget Speech to Annual Financial Statement (also called Budget), Demands for Grants, and Finance Bills. It is available in English and Hindi. Digital copies of the budget will be distributed to everyone, including the members of the Lok Sabha.
Many traditions of the budget have changed
Many traditions of the budget have changed since the Modi government came into power. Before independence, the budget was traditionally presented in a leather briefcase. Nirmala Sitharaman presented the budget instead of a briefcase in the form of a red ledger wrapped in a red cloth when she became Finance Minister. The digital budget and the absence of halwa ceremonies are the effects of this change.