No, Nirmala Sitharaman is Not India’s First Woman Finance Minister to Present Union Budget

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to present her second Union Budget, which contains the details about the government’s revenue and expenditure for fiscal year 2020-21, on Saturday.

However, contrary to the popular belief, Nirmala Sitharaman is not the first Finance Minister of India. It was former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who presented the budget in 1970-71.

Gandhi took over the finance portfolio following the resignation of Morarji Desai from the post. Desai tendered his resignation in July 1969 in protest against the nationalisation of major banks.

She served as the finance minister for a year before allocating the finance portfolio to home minister, Yashwantrao Chavan.

Meanwhile, Sitharaman presented her first Union Budget on July 5 last year after taking over as the finance minister in May 2019. Departing from the convention of carrying a brown budget briefcase, Sitharaman held a red bag to carry Budget papers in 2019.

Referred to as “bahikhata”, the red bag had the national emblem inscribed on it.

Besides being the second woman finance minister, Sitharaman is also the second female defence minister after Indira Gandhi, who handled the defence portfolio between November 1975 and December 1975 and again from January 1980 to January 1982.

In the Union Budget 2020, there are expectations that Sitharaman will tweak in personal income-tax rates, long-term capital gain (LTCG) tax and dividend distribution tax (DDT).

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