Budget 2024: From briefcase to ‘bahi khata’, here’s how budget presentations have evolved

Image Source : PTI (FILE) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Over the years, the presentation of the Union Budget in India has undergone a significant transformation. Traditionally, finance ministers were photographed carrying a briefcase into Parliament for the event. However, in 2019, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman departed from this tradition and introduced a ‘bahi khata,’ a traditional Indian accounting ledger, replacing the colonial-era briefcase.

Going paperless 

The transition continued in 2021 when Sitharaman embraced a paperless format, using a ‘Made in India’ tablet for the budget presentation. This modern approach aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on a ‘digital India’ and coincided with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the finance minister prepares to present the interim budget for FY 2024-25, the evolution from the traditional briefcase to a paperless mode reflects a blend of tradition and technological advancements. The ‘bahi khata’ and tablet have become symbols of this evolution, emphasising a departure from colonial legacies and a commitment to a more digital and indigenous approach to the budgetary process.

In what format will this year’s budget be presnted? 

According to a press release from the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the Union Budget for 2023–24 will be presented in a paperless format. All 14 Union Budget documents, including the Annual Financial Statement, Demand for Grants, Finance Bill, etc., as mandated by the Constitution, will be accessible through the “Union Budget Mobile App.”

The initiative aims to provide Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public with hassle-free access to budget documents using a user-friendly digital platform. The mobile app is bilingual (English and Hindi) and can be downloaded on both Android and iOS platforms.

Following the completion of the Budget Speech by the Finance Minister in Parliament on February 1, 2023, the Budget documents will be made available on the mobile app. The app can also be downloaded from the Union Budget Web Portal (

Nirmala Sitharaman is set to unveil her sixth budget on February 1. Given that it is an election year, she will present an interim budget, commonly known as a “vote-on-account.” A comprehensive budget will be presented after the new cabinet is formed subsequent to the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

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