Monday, July 06, 2009

Budgetary quotes

Given P. Chidambaram's fondness for quoting Saint Thirvalluvar -- in chaste Tamil, followed by an English translation -- in his budget speeches (some seven of them in two regimes), I was fully prepared for some serious Bengali stuff to be unleashed in today's Budget speech. While there were absolutely no Bengali quotes, the language was present right through the speech in the form of our Finance Minister's charming accent.

So, we had to settle for Kautilya who's the source of not just one, but two quotes :

  • 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.

  • Just as one plucks fruits from a garden as they ripen, so shall a King have revenue collected as it becomes due. Just as one does not collect unripe fruits, he shall avoid taking wealth that is not due because that will make the people angry and spoil the very sources of revenue.

Mahatma Gandhi manages to provide one quote:

Democracy is the art and science of mobilizing the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of various sections of the people in the service of the common good of all.

And, oh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gets one, too, right at the beginning of the speech:

It is a mandate for continuity, stability and prosperity. It is a mandate for inclusive growth and equitable development.

Other rhetorical flourishes that made me smile:

  • At the end of this process [of creating a simple, trust-based system of taxation], I hope the Finance Minister can credibly say that our tax collectors are like honey bees collecting nectar from the flowers without disturbing them, but spreading their pollen so that all flowers can thrive and bear fruit.

  • Although there is a school of thought that legal consultants do not provide any service to their client, I hold my distinguished predecessor in high esteem and disagree!

Then there was this bit of unintended humour:

The financial sector is the life blood of any economy. Our Government’s approach to the banking and financial sector has been to ensure robust oversight and regulation while expanding financial access and deepening markets. The merit of this balanced approach has been borne out in the recent experience, as the turbulence in the world financial markets has left the Indian banking and financial sector relatively unaffected. Never before has Indira Gandhi’s bold decision to nationalise our banking system exactly 40 years ago - on 14th of July, 1969 - appeared as wise and visionary as it has over the past few months. Her approach continues to be our inspiration even as we introduce competition and new technology in this sector.