While presenting her third budget as the Union finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday quoted lines penned by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and the celebrated Tamil poet and saint, Thiruvalluvar.
Early on in her budget speech, the FM, while talking about how after the two world wars, the economic, political and strategic relations in the post-Covid world are changing, she said, this is the dawn of a new era, where India is poised to truly be a land of promise and hope.
At this point, she quoted Rabindranath Tagore –’Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark’. She repeated this line twice and loudly to underscore her point of hope and promise that India holds. In this same spirit, she spoke of the joy our cricket-loving country felt, after Team India’s recent spectacular success against Australia.
The FM went on to add that data shows that India has the lowest death rate of 112 per million population and lowest active cases with 130 per million. This budget has been prepared, she said keeping in mind the never-before seen circumstances, in which the country had to ward off the economic devastation caused by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, which rendered millions out of jobs, shuttered scores of small businesses and snuffed the spending power of the bottom of pyramid populace.
Again, during the Part B of her Budget speech, Sitharaman got poetic, as she invoked the Thirukkural, while making announcements on direct tax proposals. Thirukkural (Sacred Couplets) is the work of celebrated poet-philosopher Thiruvalluvar, who composed 1,330 couplets in seven words. The collection has 133 chapters, each containing 10 couplets. The work is divided into three books namely Arathuppaal (virtue), Porutpaal (wealth) and Kaamathuppaal (love).
The finance minister has taken two couplets from the book of ‘Porutpaal’ since that deals with economy. The couplet numbered 385, which comes under the chapter ‘The Greatness of a King’ goes like this: “Iyatralum eettalum kaaththalum kaaththa, vakuththalum valla tharasu”
This translates into, ‘He is a king who is able to acquire wealth, to lay it up, to guard, and to distribute it’. (In other words, a king is one who creates and acquires wealth, protects and distributes it for the common good). Sitharaman quoted these lines when she spoke of how India’s tax system should be transparent, efficient, promote investments and employment in the country. She said that it should put a minimum burden on the taxpayers.
She also invoked another couplet numbered 738, under the chapter ‘The Land’, which goes like this: “Piniyinmai selvam vilaivinpam yemam, Aniyenpa naattiv vaindhu“.
The meaning of the Kural is ‘Freedom from epidemics, wealth, produce, happiness and protection to its citizens; these five, the learned, say, are the ornaments of a kingdom’.
This is not the first time that Sitharaman has quoted the Tamil saint. In her 2020 Budget speech, she had borrowed another line from the famous poet’s scriptures, which reads, “Piniyinmai Selvam Vilaivinpam Emam Aniyenpa Naattiv Vaindhu”. This means that a country’s five jewels are good health, fertility, joy, security and wealth.
She had also recited verses from 20th century Kashmiri poet, Dinanath Kaul Nadim’s poem Myon Vatan (My Motherland) last year.