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Twitter Asks How Nirmala Sitharaman Can Read Indus Seal When Harappan Script is Still Undeciphered

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her second full Budget on Friday in Lok Sabha | Image credit: PTI

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her second full Budget on Friday in Lok Sabha | Image credit: PTI

During the announcement of Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said a seal from Indus Valley Civilisation had the word 'Shreni' (guild) on it.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam on Saturday delivered the Union Budget 2020 mid-high expectations and concerns regarding India's economic slowdown. The minister, who delivered the full budget for the second time, introduced new slabs and reduced the tax rate for different sections of individual income up to Rs 15 lakh per annum if a taxpayer chooses to give up exemptions and deductions. Apart from the economic provisions of the Budget, however, portions of Sitharaman's speech went viral.

While speaking about the history of trade, commerce, and entrepreneurship in India, Sitharaman harkened back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Referring to the civilisation and 'Sindhu Saraswati' civilisation, a name used by some scholars to describe the civilisation that flourished in c. 3300 – c. 1300 BCE on the banks and tributaries of the Indus river, Sitharaman said that traders guilds existed even at that time.

She went on to say that the word "shreni" meaning guild has been found on one of the many seals excavated at Harrapa-Mohenjo Daro, confirming that entrepreneurship was not new to India. This was in keeping with the theme of this year's Budget and Economic Survey which attempted to paint an image of confluence or 'synthesis' of old wisdom and new technology and research to increase economic output.

While the FMs confidence injected a shot of euphoria among netizens reeling under high prices, no jobs and a low GDP growth rate, many pointed out the improbability of the FM's statement, given the Indus script has not been deciphered.

The script, essentially a corpus of symbols used by those Indus Valley residents from centuries ago, was used to write inscriptions and print clay objects and tablets. However, much of it remains undeciphered as the lines are too short and experts have been unable to determine their meaning.

Sitharaman's comment, therefore, irked many who took to Twitter to point out the obvious.

In her presentation in the Lok Sabha, replete with poetry and references to India’s ancient ingenuity, Sitharaman said the three major themes of the Budget were aspirational India, a caring society, and economic development for all. She stopped after two hours and 40 minutes – the lengthiest-ever Budget speech – as the 60-year-old was reportedly feeling unwell.