Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman today presided over the customary ‘Halwa Ceremony’ that is observed every year by the current finance minister to mark the beginning of the process of printing the documents related to the budget. Sitharaman, along with colleagues, observed the symbolic ritual at the North block.
Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at ‘Halwa Ceremony’ being held at Ministry of Finance, North Block, to mark the beginning of printing of documents relating to Union Budget 2020-21. pic.twitter.com/WnCt9Hm4Ws
— ANI (@ANI) January 20, 2020
However, many people, including NDTV journalist Nidhi Razdan chose to take a swipe at the government ahead of the traditional ‘Halwa Ceremony’ preceding the yearly Budget without caring to know about its genesis and the significance attached to it.
Just leaving this here https://t.co/qRyGO1KVv8
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) January 19, 2020
In what appeared as a jibe against the government, Nidhi quoted a tweet informing about the commencing of the ‘Halwa Ceremony’ by saying “Just leaving this here”. However, when one Twitter user schooled Nidhi on how the ceremony has been a decades-old tradition at the ministry and has been followed by many of Sitharaman’s predecessors, Nidhi went on the defensive, claiming she was only being sarcastic.
The only thing dead here is ethical journalism. Quit it and try sarcasm. https://t.co/635zJxH0mN
— Monica (@TrulyMonica) January 20, 2020
The ‘Halwa Ceremony’ is an age-old practice, followed by successive Union governments a few days before the presentation of the budget in the parliament. During the ceremony, halwa is prepared in a large container and served to the finance ministry officials after which they move to the basement of the North Block to prepare and print the budget documents.
The staff at the ministry of finance work in total secrecy at the basement, ensuring there is no leakage of the budget details. The Halwa ceremony is held to appreciate the staff and officials for their hard work and to hail their efforts in the coming days as they remain locked in the North Block basement.
They remained cut-off from their families until the budget is presented by the finance minister. Communications and travel are restricted until the budget is presented in the parliament by the Finance Minister.
The Union Budget 2020 is expected to be announced by the Finance Minister on February 1, 2020. This is the seventh annual budget to be presented under the PM Modi government at the centre.