The word Budget was derived from the Middle English bowgette, which came from Middle French bougette, which in turn is a diminutive of bouge, meaning a leather bag.
The Budget process has its roots in the Bombay Plan of 1944. Bombay Plan was authored by John Mathai, GD Birla & JRD Tata.
On November 26, 1947 R.K. Shanmukham Chetty had presented the first budget of Independent India. But actually 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.
In an explanation he had said that the budget for April 1946 to March 1947 was adopted by the then interim Government in March 1946. But that budget was for undivided India and as the budget for 1947-48 passed by the legislature had ceased to be operative with the division of the country it was felt that it would be in accordance with the public wish if a budget be placed before the representatives of the people at the earliest possible moment.
Chetty began his budget speech for 1948-49 saying "when I presented my interim budget for free India’s Parliament a few months back…" From then onwards an interim budget began to mean a budget for a short period. Chetty resigned a few days later due to differences with Prime Minister Nehru.
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. He presented two budgets for 1949-50 and 1950-51.
While presenting the budget for 1950-51, the first budget for the Republic of India, he announced the formation of the Planning Commission. But later he resigned as he felt that the Planning Commission was becoming a super cabinet.
The next Finance Minister, C.D. Deshmukh, incidentally the first Indian Governor of the Reserve Bank of India as well, presented an interim budget for 1951-52. The First General Elections were held between December and February 1952.
Deshmukh was given the Finance portfolio after the new ministry assumed office. He felt honoured to present 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.
Deshmukh resigned following his differences with the recommendations of the States’ Reorganisation Commission and formation of a bigger bilingual Bombay State.
T T Krishnamachari took over from him. He found that the calculations made in the budget for 1955-56 had gone awry. So on November 30, 1956 in a five-thousand-word speech he described the changed economic situation and underlined the need to levy fresh taxes even before the next budget was presented.
The Second General Elections were held in February-March 1957 and he presented an interim budget for 1957-58 on March 14, 1957 and the final budget for 1957-58 subsequently.
T T Krishnamachari resigned in Feburary 1958 amidst controversies. The then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, himself took charge of the Finance portfolio and presented the budget for 1958-59.
In the opening para of his budget speech Nehru had said … "According to custom, the budget statement for the coming year has to be presented today (February 28, 1958). By an unexpected and unhappy chain of circumstances the Finance Minister, who would normally have made this statement this afternoon is no longer with us. This heavy duty has fallen upon me almost at the last moment."
Morarji Desai became the next Finance Minister and he presented the maximum number of budgets so far- ten. They included five annual and one interim budgets during his first stint and three final and one interim in the second tenure when he was both Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
His annual budgets were for the years from 1959-60 to 1963-64 and the interim budget for 1962-63. The third General Elections were held in February 19, 1962.
The annual budgets for three years 1967-68 to 1969-70 and the interim budget for 1967-68 were also presented by him. The interim budget for 1967-68 was on account of the General Elections in March 1967.
Morarji Desai was the only Finance Minister to have had the opportunity to present two budgets on his birthday – in 1964 and 1968. He was born on February 29. Desai resigned in July 1969 in protest against the nationalization of major banks by an ordinance on a Saturday evening. He felt social control of banks was enough.
After the first stint of Morarji Desai, T.T. Krishnamachari once again became the Finance Minister for the second time. He presented the budgets for 1964-65 and 1965-66. But twenty three weeks after presenting the budget for 1965-66 on August 19, 1965 he told Parliament that "…there are occasions when even a year’s interval becomes too long for initiating remedial action to deal with emergent situations" and sought permission to levy new taxes.
He resigned in late 1966. He introduced, among other things, the voluntary disclosure of concealed income scheme. What was deemed to be a one-time measure came to be repeated in later years as well.
Sachindra Choudhuri presented the budget for 1966-67. After the fourth General Elections in 1967, Morarji Desai once again became the Finance Minister. This was his second stint.
After he resigned, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, took over the Finance portfolio. So far, she has been the only woman Finance Minister.
Following the Fifth General Elections in March, 1971 Y.B. Chavan became the Finance Minister. He presented the interim budget for 1971-72 and the final budgets for four years – 1971-72 to 1974-75.