“This is the eighth Budget, that I am presenting” said
Mr.C.Subramaniam, the Finance Minister of our State,
and it is a pity that most of the public failed to take
note of this fact, spontaneously! The finance minister
himself had to bring home this essential factor!! We
But, what made him say that? There is a purpose behind
that statement. Here is an astute finance minister,
in whose hands were left, a State seething with difficulties.
And he worked on patiently, intelligently, unmindful
of uncharitable remarks or harsh criticism, and by dint
of his incomparable abilities and keen perception of
the most intricate economic problems, has brought the
ship of State, from out of the storm, to a safe place!
That is the point! And it is a pity that none but the
finance minister is conscious of this stupendous success.
Like Robert Bruce, he has attempted many times, failed
but was not foiled, and went on with his task, till
success gave its sweetest kiss on the cheeks of this
energetic economist-cum educationist! And, what is the
success? From a deficit, the budget has become a surplus
one! As if aided by a magic wand, the finance minister,
has been able to tide over innumerable difficulties
and has finally succeeded in presenting a surplus budget.
Had this point been presented by someone, other than
the finance minister, it would have naturally taken
the shape of a tribute. But the finance minister did
not wait for somebody to come forward to point out this
fact, and pay rich tribute. Perhaps he was impatient!
May be, he did not want to take the risk!! Hence he
himself placed this ‘achievement’ before the House—a
sort of patting one’s own back.
And which Congress member would remain silent, after
such a declaration from the finance minister? One after
another, they rose up to pay their tributes! One praised
his head, another his heart — still another his hand!
His intellectual prowess was applauded, and the opposition
was asked to take note of the fact, that there is a
genius on the treasury bench.
But, the leader of the D.M.K., braving the danger of
being derided by the numerically strong party, the Congress,
wanted an explanation — “Is there anything unique in
the presentation of a surplus budget? Is this the only
State, wherein there is an surplus budget?” The Congress
members who spoke eulogising the finance minister, had
no explanations to offer.
All of them went on repeating the burden of the song,
‘the eighth budget’ — ‘the eighth budget!’ — and ‘a
Mr. M.P.Subramaniam, the Secretary of the D.M.K., Legislature
Party pointed out the truth behind their claim about
a surplus budget.
“You wantonly under-estimate the revenue side, put on
over-estimate on the expenditure side, and talk about
an impending deficit—and at the end of the year, you
get more than the estimated revenue, spend less than
the estimated amount, and ask the people to congratulate
you for having presented a surplus budget!”
Mr. Subramaniam’s pertinent criticism was not answered—though
the finance minister spoke for nearly hundred minutes.
He could have, if he had the means at his command, refuted
Mr.M.P. Subramaniam’s critism but he went on unfolding
all the wonders in the womb of the third plan!
Mr.K.Anbalagan, pointed out another aspect.
“Sir, you claim to have presented a surplus budget.
But on that account, should anybody feel happy or elated?
Even a miser, refusing to spend money on essential objects,
corners money. He will not be praised for the same.
So if you present a surplus budget, after starving out
many deserving cases, it is no credit, and none could
feel happy over it.”
To illustrate his point, Mr.Anbalagan, pointed out how
callous the government has been to the persistent and
just demands of the N.G.Os, Village Officers, and Elementary
School Teachers. The finance minister, advocated the
necessity for a bigger plan—the Third Plan—but did not
attempt any answer or explanation. And when finally
C.N.A. pointed out, that taking advantage of the surplus
budget, the government could at least exempt food-stuffs
from the sales-tax, the finance minister maintained
a silence —though in a bewitching manner.
So the charge levelled against this Modern Bruce, that
he has presented an artificial surplus budget, remains
unanswered—unless the taunts and uncouth remarks that
the Congress leaders now and then emit, are to be considered
But the most unassailable criticism came from Mr.Asaithambi.
He expressed the view in a forceful way of course, that
the importance of the State budget, has become practically
negligible, because of the growing dependence of the
States on the Centre. In fact, just as those in power
during the British regime, had to prepare a budget without
freedom of thought or action, so too, the present State
Congress ministers are preparing budget, noting carefully
the orders from their masters at Delhi. This is not
the budget of an Independent Sovereign State—we but
get the budget prepared by a slave State!
Strong as these remarks are, there is sound sincerity
in that. And, more and more statesmen and economists,
outside the pale of the D.M.K. are day by day realising
this grim truth—the States are becoming dole-taking,
grant-receiving Corporations. One equipped with sound
knowledge of politics and economics, and rich practical
experience, as the head of the Finance Commission, Mr.Santhanam
has expressed his concern about this aspect.
When members of the D.M.K. put things plainly, sometimes
even bluntly, the finance minister becomes ferocious—but
he has no answer for the points raised by such old-timers
Instead of facing these facts, the finance minister
harps on an illusory fact, that like Bruce of old, he
has succeeded in effecting a repair in the economic
structure of this State—and as proofs for the same,
he points out,
Surplus in the Budget
Increased allotment in all spheres.
Members of the D.M.K. pointed out, that there is no
taxation because the people are being bled white already.
Even the finance minister has admitted on other occasions,
the fact that the taxable capacity has been severely
exploited and that there is no more possibility of fresh
taxes. Hence, to take credit for not taxing the people,
About the third item pointed out by the Congress members,
in support of the acumen of the finance minister, the
increase in the allotment for various heads, the leader
of the D.M.K. pointed out how, this increase in allotment
was necessitated by the inflationary trend, and not
due to any over-abundance of generosity. If a sum of
ten rupees was needed for a particular work last year,
this year, due to inflation, we have to allot and spend
five more rupees for the same work.
So, all the three ‘salient features’, pointed out by
those who were all praise for the finance minister,
As the leader of the D.M.K. pointed out, the very fact
that the finance minister presents the budget for the
eighth time, connotes strength as well as weakness.
The very fact that this is the eighth budget, goes to
show, that time ought to have given experience and the
art of presenting figures in a glowing way ought to
have been perfected by this time. The finance minister
could, by changing the angle of presentation each year,
make it difficult for comparative evaluation. He could
so arrange figures and charts, as to cause an impression
unwarranted by stark reality. Such a strength is got
by the experience gained. The weakness lies in the fact,
that just because he has faced and come out unburnt
for seven times, is bound to instil a sort of indifference
in the finance minister’s mind. And that is what is
prominent in the manner and matter of the reply from
the finance minister.
Surplus or deficit, for the eighth time, budgets become
messages of happiness or misery as and when they are
explained in terms of the real state of affairs in the
State. Has there been an appreciable rise in the standard
of life of the masses? Have their employment prospects
become brighter? Has there been a rise in their real
wages? Has the government succeeded in stabilising prices,
so as to enable the common man to get three square meals
These are the ‘tests’—not the number of times, one presents
And, the finance minister, though he has every right
to claim a comparison with Bruce of old as far as the
number of attempts made is concerned has no facts to
place before the public, to prove that the State under
his able guidance has become richer and happier.
(Sub-Editorial - 22-03-1959)