History of Indian Railway Budget

India Infoline News Service | Mumbai | February 26, 2015 16:09 IST

India's first Finance Minister, Sir R.K. Shanmugham Chetty, presented the first Finance Budget of independent India on November 26, 1947.

Passing-Train
In 1921, British railway economist, William Mitchell Acworth was appointed chairman of the Committee on Indian Railways. The report of the committee, known as the "Acworth Report", led to reorganization of Indian Railways; thus separating the railway finances of India from the general government finances. In short, this led to creation of a separate Railway Budget, an arrangement which continues in independent India today.
 
India's first Finance Minister, Sir R.K. Shanmugham Chetty, presented the first Finance Budget of independent India on November 26, 1947. 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.
 
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. Deshmukh 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. Initially, major attention was paid towards the agriculture sector but as the economy evolved, the focus shifted from agriculture to other sectors like industry and finance.
 
In 1959, Morarji Desai became the Finance Minister. After the fourth General Elections in 1967, Morarji Desai once again became the Finance Minister. This was his second time. He has presented ten budgets till date. They included five annual and one interim budget during his first stint and three final and one interim in the second tenure when he was both Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
 
 After Desai resigned, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, took over the Finance portfolio.
 
 The shortest ever interim budget speech was just 800 words and delivered by H. M. Patel in 1977.
 
 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 Shri 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.
 
 After the elections another non-Congress ministry assumed office.

 So, a final budget for 1996-97 was presented by Shri P. Chidambaram of the then Tamil Maanila Congress. It was the second time that an interim and final budget was 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 Shri Chidambaram's 1997-98 budget.
 
 In 2000, Mamata Banerjee became the first women Railway Minister of India. In the year 2002, she also became the first female Minister of Railways to present the Railway budget. She holds the record of being the only women who presented the railway budget for two different governments in the centre (NDA and UPA).
 
 First live telecast of railway budget took place on 24 March 1994. Lalu Prasad Yadav, who remained Railways Minister from 2004 to May 2009, presented the railway budget six times in a row.

 

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