Friday, February 26, 2010

Budget 2010. Nani ki yaad aayi !!

Looks like India is reasonably happy with Pranabda's performance. This budget has been declared growth oriented by those who 'know'. As for me...well.... this column says it all.

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Nani ki yaad aayi

The most tiresome and seriously annoying aspect of the annual water torture, also known as the Budget, is the pre- and post- analysis of the damn thing! Experts all but crawl out of the woodwork around this time of the year, and give gyaan to the nation via soundbytes and quotes that nobody can decode. It’s just so much hot air and gas, that were Brothers Ambani to tap and pipe it, most of their problems would get automatically solved. After the death of Nani Palkhiwala, the one man who could effectively deconstruct the bloody Budget for the aam janata, nobody but nobody has been able to tell us what we already know - pay more! One just had to read Palkhiwala’s lips as he held centrestage on the expansive lawns of the CCI, to appreciate his genius. Take me. I am embarrassingly numbers challenged ( okay, now that I’ve revealed one secret, I may as well go the whole hog and reveal another – I can’t read balance sheets!). But even dumbo me would turn up faithfully to hang on to Nani’s every word. Needless to say nothing registered!
It was as much for the performance as for the gyaan – Nani was the SRK of the finance world. Big difference being he worked without someone else’s script and pretty much relied on memory, preferring to speak extempore - no teleprompters, cue sheets, not even a scrap of paper ( take that, Mr. Obama!). His recall for reams of data was so faultless, he’d leave even the most erudite analysts in the audience totally speechless as he reeled off numbers effortlessly, and put the Budget into a comprehensible format for informed citizens. Mind you, Nani commanded the sort of audience that today’s Bollywood stars with all their clout, muscle and p.r. power cannot! People would start queuing up bright and early to grab the best seats on the grounds, and remain rooted to their uncomfortable chairs till Nani concluded his speech ( a daunting , marathon effort extending well over two hours). It was one annual event that attracted the most eclectic crowd. I cannot imagine any personality other than Sachin Tendulkar being in a position to pull off a similar feat.But given the present generation’s shrinking attention span, I also wonder whether Nani would have been able to attract the same numbers today.
I tried very hard to comprehend Mamata’s railway budget ( no steam in this engine, alas), but promptly abandoned the exercise when I acknowledged a basic lack of interest within myself – when was the last time I jumped on a train? See?? That’s really how it works, whether we face it or not. Selfishness rules. We breathlessly await the latest Budget only to pounce on those aspects which impact our lives directly – be honest. Do you really get into a blue fog worrying about tax implications affecting kerosene prices? Do you have toor daal on your mind on Budget Day? Or even two wheeler prices? All you want to know in the broadest of terms is – what’s in it for me, if anything? Higher prices are a given. So are even higher taxes. You have already reconciled yourself to that. You want to know just one thing – where will the extra lolly come from?? And how badly are you going to be hit this time?? That you are going to be hit, has been factored in. Remember darlings - there is no such thing as a ‘good’ Budget. Every new Budget is a killer, one way or the other. Which is why it is important to ignore all those grim faced farts on tv telling us about less pain in the future. Take a walk, you guys. When will you stop bull- shitting? Spare us your ‘expert’ comments, and the cheesy, ‘no pain, no gain’ rubbish. We prefer listening to our wallets. And the story they tell is vastly different.
Each year, we generate hype just before Judgement Day. It is a particularly masochistic exercise, and no other developed country in the world makes quite such a ludicrous song and dance over what is after all nothing more dramatic than a routine annual statement about the government’s finances. We are the ones who create all the dramabaazi around the Budget and treat the entire exercise as a Reality Show, with the F.M. playing the key role. ‘‘Kaun Banega Crorepati??” You know the answer to that one – nobody! At least, not on paper, and not if Pranab can help it! Our government’s main aim, it would appear, is to make sure we stay true to some outdated socialist dream and such obscenities do not happen. But nobody actually spells it out. Instead we talk around the subject, and complicate it further. Pranab’s performance will be taken apart on several levels, since his oratorial skills, leave most Indians ( okay, make that non- Bengalis) entirely befuddled. Unlike his predecessors, Pranab does not recite shair –shairis, quote Shakespeare or Ghalib. Tagore?? But again, unlike his predecessors, Pranab believes in telling it like it is, minus sugar coating or frivolous frills. And essentially, he says just one thing – pay up! That’s the message. “Or else” , follows! The aam janata gets the message pronto. Pranab does not prescribe to painless surgery.
Whoever invented the term ‘stimulus package’ was a smart cookie. It sounded sexy. Was sexy. And the strategy worked. Unfortunately, the stimulus on offer was not exactly financial Viagra and most companies could not get it up on demand. Miracles were expected ( as unrealistic as immaculate conception). Withdrawal of stimulus is like coitus interruptus…but clearly, it is the UPA government’s call, and gives another angle to the India growth story. The dream is technicoloured and big. Like Anil Ambani’s latest venture.Analysts are claiming anything from 8% to 11% - kuch, kuch hota hai! But all that comes later, once the dust settles down, and we stop cribbing. India without perennial cribbers would be so damn boring! We like cribbing! It is our birthright. So, even as we moan and groan, sulk and sigh, the Budget ki Kahani will not last beyond this weekend. It is a little like MNIK – so much publicity before the release of the film. And then what? Money in the bank for the canny producers. But the aam janata was left trying to figure out how to pronounce ‘Asperger’s’ and whether or not to admit in public that nobody had heard of the syndrome till Rizwan came on the scene. Pranab is as big as SRK - at least at this time of the year. And like SRK, he too is used to the flack that goes with his portfolio.
I am not complaining. I am sensibly holding my tongue. You know why?? I don’t get it – the Budget, I mean. And it’s stupid to try and deconstruct anything I can’t figure out. As it goes every year, I’ll simply shrug philosophically and pay up, humming ‘Kabhie Khushi, Kabhie Gham.”

Nani Palkhiwala…. where are you when we need you the most???

23 comments:

uthamanarayanan said...

Naniji well remembered at the apt time in the best context.My God , what an extempore oratory not only on budget, but what ever he talked .One of icons of my life.

Partha Pratim said...

No budget has the potential to make everyone happy. No matter whatever the contents of the budget are, criticisms are bound to be showered. And opposition always would play their role with perfection. Well written.

*Aham* said...

Same Pinch De. mereko bhi yeh budget-vadjet samaj mein nahi aata...

I watch teh parliament nautanki just for our extremely lovely railway ministers... what style... from Sadhna Cut Laalu to Shamtaa Heen Mamata... waah waah... mashaallah... Their real life tamashas can give any SRK a run for his money..

they should be given the entertainment portfolio...

Regarding Pranab da... he seems to be curt... and not a pappu pseudo intellectual. He sometimes is sweeter than roshgulla... but doesnt come across as a smart cookie as Chiddu in Mundu...

lahhhh... Chadddo... ki faraq paindaa hai with any budget or presenter.. either ways... we will be paisaaa nichooded in some way or the other...

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Madam ji, are you aware Sachin created history. When performance talk i.e., Sachin - The perfect man.
SRK?

Prerak said...

My father would listen/ read to Nani Palkhivala and then he would deliver his own version next day in his office...hahaha...those were the days...he was a rockstar in his office during budget times...probably he still is. Don't know.

Sourav Roy said...

Every year, during this time, when the union budget is announced, there is a lot halla over it. Is the budget good? Will it help the common man? Will it be good for the industries, and the IT sector? Many economists believe that the best way to evaluate the budget is understanding behavior of the stock market.

If the stock market goes up, the budget is described as successful. If it moves sideways, it is said that the market has absorbed it well. If it moves down, it becomes bad news for the market, hence a bad budget. Stock market follows a very complex pattern. If stimulus is withdrawn, it is not considered good by many, since it means more taxes and hence less profit. But it also means more revenue and less government borrowing, which will in turn creates more scope for private borrowing and private investment. The point is this- Stock market is not the ultimate way to judge the union budget, as many believe.

The country gets on its feet, when the budget is announced, but the same people eventually forget about it for the rest of the year. Please understand- the annual budget is a briefcase full of guidelines, promises and expectations, and nothing else! It is merely a plan, and the success and failure completely lies in its implementation. One day, week or month is too early to analyze it!

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Manjiri Kale said...

Yearly Budget...
Edit...
Copy....
Paste...
Forwared......!

Vinay. said...

Lord Roll of Ipsden,a very widely traveled person, had presided over one of the budget speeches of Nani. gazing at the sea of humanity he observed in his presidential address that nowhere in the world (i repeat nowhere in the world)would a budget speech attract such an audience.among those who were seen at one or more of these meetings were JRD Tata, Minoo Masani,Sohraband Burjor Godrej,Aditya Birla,Ramakrishna Bajaj,Dhirubhai Ambani,several Tata directors,some High court Judges,and high ranking members of IT dept.Nani spoke in language that the lay man could easily understand. as he once put it, half seriously; 'my meetings will be considered successful only when the unknown little man who is interested in it comes to know of it and is enabled to attend it. who knows? one day he may become the prime minister of India' And one of them did-HD Deve Gowda. At a public meeting held in 1997, the then prime minister,digressing from his prepared speech, adressed Nani and said, "sir, i used to be a listener of your speeches in Bangalore, and I respect you." there were jokes too often Nani's budget leacture was given more importance than the budget itself. on 1982-83 budget he said;"To a dehydrated nation, the budget offers water from an eye-dropper". About 90-91 budget he said- it may be regarded as a good budget in bad times,though it might have ranked as a bad budget in good times."
indeed budgets have become tasteless after Nani Palkhivala.

sunil golcha said...

hi shobha
i agree that there will never be another palkhiwala but down south there is one gentleman by the name gurumurthy who is a master on the subject and delivers his speech extempore as regards the present fin min i personally feel that he is far better than his predecessor whose budgets made life hell for practising CAs like me

Riaz-NJ said...

How on earth they justify fuel price hike? This is the nerve to the middle class;

Look at this...

155. In pursuance of Government's resolve to implement the National Solar Mission, I propose to provide a concessional customs duty of 5 per cent to machinery, instruments, equipment and appliances etc. required for the initial setting up of photovoltaic and solar thermal power generating units. I also propose to exempt them from Central Excise duty. Similarly, ground source heat pumps used to tap geo-thermal energy would be exempt from basic customs duty and special additional duty.

159. The humble cycle rickshaw is now being acclaimed as an environment-friendly means of transport. CSIR has developed an innovative product called 'soleckshaw' to replace manually-operated rickshaws. It runs on batteries which are charged by solar power. I propose to provide a concessional excise duty of 4 per cent to this product. Its key parts and components are also being exempted from customs duty.

When are they going to grow beyond 4% and 5%...

WHY not be generous so that STATE and PEOPLE can take better advantage of it... PROVIDE Incentives to PEOPLE to participate...

Isnt there a conflict.. at one end your raise the fuel tax and other hand you give only around 4%-5% custom/excise duties exemptions...

More joke...

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission envisages establishing India as a global leader in solar energy. An ambitious target of 20,000 MW of solar power by the year 2022 has been set under the mission. I propose to increase the plan outlay for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy by 61 per cent from Rs.620 crore in 2009-10 to Rs.1,000 crore in 2010-11.


Ambitious target ... When 2022 ???!!!! Oh I forgot this is Year 2020!!!

More Joke..

64. The Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir faces an extremely harsh climate and suffers from energy deficiency. To address this problem, it is proposed to set up solar, small hydro and micro power projects at a cost of about Rs.500 crore.


SOLAR in Kashmir... Pranabda ... Have you heard of a place called Rajasthan ??!!!

This oldie must go!!!

ms said...

mz de, please don't worry about budget. nothing new this year, the rupee will buy you less, the spending will pain you more. this is what is meant by "more or less" that precedes every sentence spoken by the budgetrrati. just imagine the plight of the House caught between pranab and mamata and their "bhaat bhe bhant to give the kaamun mhan" speeches. we have it easy, we just shut up and pay up. the govt is like a bad housewife, who has spent her monthly allowance before the day is out and now has to "please" her husband (the nation) in other ways. there is no social welfare like in the west, no public health and no decent public transport. so where does the money go? the answer is blowing in the (hot) wind. and i like the stimulus package being offered, it should be called simulation package.
and yes, about MINK, now he says he had to tuck his upper eye lid into his eyebrows to get the asperger-look. first we had to suffer from sallubhai's "tere naam" haircut (which looked remarkably like prez kalaam's but no one admitted it) and then came the sweeney-todd-gone-more-mad look from "ghajni". and now, a whole nation is going to tuck their lids into their eyebrows. bring back the days of jeetu's emasculating ultra tight white pants or rajesh k's chokingly tight guru kurta collars, please!

SUBHASIS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SUBHASIS said...

well its teh news channels which has made the budget speech no less than the world cup finals!!!! after all if they show news for 24 hrs then wut else do we expect, they are bound to glamourise every tiny little event as a milestone which can make and break our future for a better TRP ,for instance my father who till some years ago was happy reading the zist of it in the morning newspaper ,was glued to the tv set all day as if pranab da was personally addressing him and any deviation in his attention wud offend him beyond limits. i completely agree with u abt the 'wut's in it for me' statement cos thats how it is n theres nothin shameful abt it. y sud i be bothered abt the train ticket anymore if i seldom use it....the ole way still works for me i pick up th newspapr and i can find in the sidelines in bold wut has bcum cheaper and wuts dearer, so no need to even go thru the whole story as to how the opposition made a theatrical walkout!!!!!

avinash baranwal said...

one side government try to control the inflation rate another side they have given freedom to all citizen to spend more tax deducation facility. will it not increase the inflation?

Pooja said...

Ma de,
you are right selfishness rules i dont understand the budget either but i just checked with regard to mobile phones as i wanted to buy one thats it i never bothered about anything else.
your idea of baning backpack , whynot anything which can save innocent lives from the terrorist attacks. we keep hearing about global warming and we should do our bit as it threatens lives and may take lives Terrorist attack simply takes lives we should seriously think about doing our bit if baning backpack helps so be it.
I liked the bulls eye oneliner with regard to Tiger woods,
"True celebrity means never having to say you’re sorry."

Minanath Dhaske said...

Little huhmour on the Budget proposals by Pranab Mukherjee http://caricaturehome.blogspot.com/2010/02/budget-to-add-fuel.html

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shivansh said...

heyy de(wow that rhymes)...
but the nani palkhiwala stuff seems to be scooped up from gud 'ol wiki....c'mon...u cn do better than that..

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