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Budget Shayari: When Finance Ministers Married Poetry and Policy

Here’s a look at some of the poems that were recited during the Union Budget speeches.

Updated:February 1, 2019, 10:03 AM IST
Budget Shayari: When Finance Ministers Married Poetry and Policy
File photo of Union minister Arun Jaitley.
Budget speeches are usually long and, to be frank, pretty colourless. To keep the aam junta, and our notoriously drowsy MPs, engaged, finance ministers have often peppered their budget speeches with jokes, shayaris and scripture.

And, we have been surprised by the gems they throw at us in the form of poems. Here’s a look at some of the poems that were recited during the Union Budget speeches.

1. Arun Jaitley (2016-17)

Jaitley started his Budget speech by first talking about the bad economy that he has inherited. But there was good news. He said he knew how to fix it. So, he didn’t want to miss a chance to bring his inner poet out. He recited an Urdu couplet.

Kashti chalaane walon ne jab haar kar di patwar hamein,

Lehar lehar toofan mile aur mauj mauj manjdhaar hamein.

Phir bhi dikhaya hai humne, aur phir yeh dikha denge sabko,

In halato mein aata hai daria karna paar humein.

Translation: When the exhausted sailors handed the oar of the boat to us, we faced storms and rapids everywhere. But we have showed and will keep on showing, how to cross the river in such conditions.

2. P Chidambaram (2013-14)

The Finance Minister quoted a couplet from Thirukural, a classic Tamil text consisting of 1,330 couplets, to drive home the point that India can progress further if it makes the right decisions and choices.

We instantly knew he is a big fan of Tamil literature.

Kalangathu kanda vinaikkan thulangkathu thookkang kadinthu seyal.

Translation: What clearly eye discerns as right, with steadfast will and mind unslumbering, that should man fulfil.

3. Manmohan Singh (1990-91)

In his landmark 1991 Budget speech, the former Prime Minister sort of changed India forever.

The economic reforms kick-started in that year brought about expansion of the services sector helped largely by a liberalised investment and trade regime. They also increased consumer choices and reduced poverty significantly. In the speech, he quoted Allama Iqbal.

Yunaan-o-Misr-o-Rom sab mit gaye jahaan se/ Ab tak magar hai baaki, naam-o-nishaan hamara.


Translation: Old civilisations of Greece, Egypt and Rome have vanished from the earth. But our civilisation continues to thrive.

4. Pranab Mukherjee (2009-10)

Finding inspiration in Mahatma Gandhi and Kautilya, he quoted both of them in his speech.

Pointing out that the short-term fiscal stimulus has to be balanced against long-term prudence and fiscal sustainability objectives, he recited a verse from the author of Arthashastra.

"In the interest of the prosperity of the country, a king shall be diligent in foreseeing the possibility of calamities, try to avert them before they arise, overcome those which happen, remove all obstructions to economic activity and prevent loss of revenue to the state."

5. Pranab Mukherjee (2012-13)

In his last Budget speech, the former President quoted Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, from the play, while talking about the tough policy decisions he needed to take for the good of the economy in the long run.

“I must be cruel only to be kind.”

6. Arun Jaitley (2015-16)

Taking a dig at the UPA's rule, the finance minister borrowed lines from a Hindi poetry.

Kuchh to gul khilaye hain, kuchh abhi khilaane hain,

Par baagh mein ab bhi kaante kuchh puraane hain.

Translation: We have made a few flowers bloom and have to bloom more, but there are a few old thorns in the garden.

7. Arun Jaitley (2017-18)

While speaking on Modi government's war on black money. The finance minister took to poetry.

Nayi duniya hai, naya daur hai, nayi hai umang,

Kuch the pahle se tariqe to kuch hain aaj ke rang-dhang.

Roshni aake jo andheron se takdai hai,

Kaale dhan ko bhi badalna pada aaj apna rang."

Translation: It's a new world, it's a new regime, new hope and under this bright light, even black money was forced to change its colour.

8. Yashwant Sinha (2001-02)

While presenting the Budget, the then Finance Minister had claimed that it targets second-generation reforms, growth and equity with efficiency. And, he recited a poem to emphaise on it.

Taqaazaa hai waqt kaa ke toofaan se joojho,

kahaan tak chaloge kinaare kinaare.

Translation: The time requires you to fight the storms. How long will you keep on walking on the shore.
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