Budget 2015 today moved into top gear with the finance ministry hosting the customary ‘halwa’ ceremony, which marks the printing of the top-secret Budget documents and the quarantining of essential staff.
As part of the long-standing ritual, the sweet dish is prepared in a large vessel, or karhai, and consumed by a large number of official and support staff who are required to stay in the North Block office till the presentation of the Budget, which falls on February 28 this year.
The staff are totally cut off from the outside world, and not even allowed to contact their family members.
Only very senior officials in the Finance Ministry are permitted to go home.
Thursday’s ceremony was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his junior minister, Minister of State Jayant Sinha.
Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Joint Secretary (Budget) Rajat Bhargava and other officers and staff of the ministry involved with Budget preparation were also present at the halwa ceremony.
This will be Jaitley’s second Budget, the first one coming after the vote-on-account presented by the previous government. This will also be the National Democratic Alliance government’s first full-fledged Budget, and naturally expectations are high that it will be a path-breaking one.
Image: (top) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and (bottom) MoS Jayant Sinha with the budget-eve halwa. Photograph: PIB on Twitter.
With additional inputs from PTI