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Tagore, Oz win find space in FM speech

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New Delhi: Finance ministers delivering budgets have distinct rhetorical styles

PUBLISHED ON FEB 02, 2021 12:34 AM IST

New Delhi: Finance ministers delivering budgets have distinct rhetorical styles. While some have in the past fallen back on Bollywood one-liners, others have quoted poets to make their point.

On Monday, Nirmala Sitharaman used literary references and India’s historic Australia series while presenting the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha.

While ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar seems to be a favourite with Sitharaman —he featured in her 2020 speech as well — the minister quoted from works of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore while mentioning the fight against Covid-19.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark,” she quoted Tagore’s lines from his work “Fireflies”.

Her second poetic reference came from Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar. “A King/Ruler is the one who creates and acquires wealth, protects and distributes it for common good,” she quoted the poet, adding: “Our tax system has to be transparent, efficient, and should promote investments and employment in our country. At the same time it should put minimum burden on our tax payers.’’

Sitharaman also referred to the Indian cricket team’s historic Test series win in Australia’s difficult conditions as an indicator of what Indians are capable of when faced with adversity. “I can’t help but recall the joy that we, as a cricket-loving nation, felt after Team India’s recent spectacular success in Australia. It has reminded us of all the qualities that we as a people, particularly our youth, epitomise of having abundant promise and the unsuppressed thirst to perform and succeed,’’ she said.

Sitharaman continued with the practice of carrying the red-coloured “bahi khata”, but this time there was a tablet instead of the usual Budget papers keeping in line with the paperless theme of the Budget session.

Clad in a red and cream-hued saree with patterns, the minister stood in the second row of the Treasury benches as she read out the speech from the tablet placed on a short lectern. She wrapped up her speech in an hour and 50 minutes. Last year’s Budget speech was 2 hours and 40 minutes long.

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