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What Is ‘Bahi Khata’ in the 2024 Budget? An Examination of Budget Briefcase’s Development

<p>Photographs of Indian finance ministers bringing briefcases into parliament for the annual Budget presentation have been taken throughout the years. But in 2019, this custom took a dramatic turn when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chose to forego the traditional Budget briefcase in favor of a “Bahi Khata.”</p>
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<p><strong>“Bahi Khata”: What Is It?</strong></p>
<p>Finance Minister Sitharaman introduced a new budget ledger in 2019 called a “Bahi Khata,” or fabric ledger, replacing the traditional budget briefcase. The goal of this move was to depart from the colonial custom of British finance ministers carrying a “Gladstone Box” to Parliament; bags and briefcases eventually took the place of this custom. India welcomed a similar change.</p>
<p>Nirmala Sitharaman was seen carrying a crimson Bahi Khata, a traditional ledger of accounts, in place of the usual briefcase before to the 2019 budget presentation. Given that the briefcase was a relic of British control in India and was modeled after the “Gladstone box” used in British budget presentations, this departure was seen as a symbolic repudiation of the colonial past.</p>
<p><strong>Break with a colonial custom:</strong> The briefcase was seen as a holdover from India’s British colonial era. It was believed that adopting the Bahi Khata, a customary accounting instrument from India, would honor the nation’s history and symbolism.</p>
<p><strong>Establish a connection with the general public:</strong> Many Indians, especially those who live in rural regions and own small enterprises, are acquainted with the Bahi Khata. It was thought that using it will help the budget presentation become more approachable and understandable for the general public.</p>
<p><strong>Emphasize financial inclusion:</strong> Small companies and entrepreneurs often utilize the Bahi Khata to keep track of their money. Its use was seen as a means of demonstrating the government’s commitment to assisting these industries.</p>
<p>RK Shankmukham Chetty, India’s first finance minister, followed British customs by carrying papers in a leather portfolio bag for the country’s first union budget. Then, in the years that followed, several finance ministers chose to deliver the budget using different briefcases.</p>
<p>On the other hand, Sitharaman’s decision to use the Bahi Khata gave the budgeting process a uniquely local touch.</p>
<p>In 2020, the traditional budget document vessel made its second and last appearance. But in the year that followed, this conventional book of accounts was abandoned in favor of a more modern method. Using a tablet made in the country, Nirmala Sitharaman delivered the budget in 2021 in an entirely paperless manner.</p>
<p>She took the tablet to parliament in 2021, 2022, and again in 2023, all three times wearing a crimson bag that echoed the Bahi Khata fashion. The decision to purchase a tablet was seen as a step in the direction of the government’s Digital India program.</p>
<p><strong>2024 Interim Budget</strong></p>
<p>Similar to the last three complete union budgets, the interim union budget for 2024 will be distributed digitally. On February 1, 2024, the interim union budget will be revealed.</p>
<p>Budget Documents Using the Union Budget Mobile App</p>
<p>The “Union Budget Mobile App” will provide hassle-free access to all union budget documents for members of parliament and the general public using the most basic digital convenience. These documents include the Annual Financial Statement (commonly known as Budget), Demand for Grants (DG), Finance Bill, etc.</p>
<p>It will be accessible on both the iOS and Android operating systems and is multilingual (Hindi and English).</p>
<p>The app is also available for download at, the website for the union budget.</p>
<p>After the union finance minister’s budget address in Parliament is over, the budget materials will be accessible on the mobile app.</p>