Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting the Union Budget 2021 on 1 February under exceptional circumstances. The economy is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19. The budget comes against the backdrop of recession with growth in two consecutive quarters in the red.
There will be many things different in this year's Budget compared to previous years. Here are a few of them.
Since Independence, this is the first time that the Union Budget will not be printed, due to COVID-19 pandemic. Every year the Union Budget is printed in the finance ministry's in-house press and involves 100 employees who stay together for a fortnight till the papers are printed, sealed and delivered..
However, sources have said that due to rising cases of COVID-19, the government will not print hard copies, and instead, send soft copies.
In two parts
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget on 1 February. The first session of Budget in the Parliament will start in January and go on toll 15 February. The second session will take place between 8 March and 8 April.
No Halwa cermony
There will be no halwa (semolina-based sweet dish) ceremony in Union Budget 2021, which traditionally takes place before the printing of papers. The ceremony is usually attended by all people involved in the process of making the Budget and marks the beginning of printing. The Indian sweet dish is prepared in big woks and served to the entire staff.
No bahi khata, no trucks
This time around, since the Budget has gone paperless, there will be no trucks loaded with Budget papers, which is a familiar sight at Parliament on Budget Day. Furthermore, there will be no need for a bahi khata to carry the budget papers unlike other years. Last year, Sitharaman had dropped the leather briefcase in favour of a traditional bahi khata.
Different seating arrangements amid social distancing norms
Since the COVID-19 protocol is still in place, it is likely that there will be different safety measures in place, including strict physical distancing norms. For the first time ever, Members of Parliament might be seated in three different places " the Rajya Sabha chamber, the Lok Sabha chamber, and the central hall for President Ram Nath Kovind's address at the beginning of the session.