On a springy Saturday, it was a close contest between cricket and the Budget. Would a nation of 1.2 billion choose to tune into the Cricket World Cup or watch the presentation of a document that would impact their financial destiny in the year to come?
If Twitter was a yardstick, it was cricket - by a close margin, admittedly. With a super exciting Australia versus New Zealand match in the morning, where wickets were falling like ninepins, and with anticipation building up for an India vs UAE match scheduled to start at noon, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley certainly had a tough job keeping the nation's attention when he arrived at the crease at 10.30 a.m.
But our man in blue (no, the FM was not wearing white and gold much to the disappointment of The Dress watchers!) in Parliament got off to an admirable start. He appeared confident, rested and totally in control as he talked of leading Team India to a fiscal win (did he take a tip or two from Captain Cool Dhoni?). He looked a far different FM from the tired, ill, careworn man who presented his maiden budget last year, and had to take an unprecedented break due to backache.
Perhaps reminded of that, the honourable speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan even solicitously interrupted him to ask if he wanted to sit and read out his speech - a suggestion that Jaitley brushed aside masterfully.
During the larger part of the FM's speech, even though there were several schemes to make people drop everything and listen (making EPF contributions optional, for one) it was the Aus vs NZ tie that ruled the IndiaTrends Twitter list. Even The Dress - Tumblr picture of a white and gold (or was it blue and black?) garment that broke the Internet and created a social media frenzy - was ahead!
But the FM displayed some superb timing. He began reading out the section on taxation, the most awaited portion of the document, just as the cracker of a match between Australia and New Zealand ended. By 1.00 p.m., the Budget had managed to shoot past cricket as the top trending item. And although it was not really the Big Bang budget that many hoped for, he managed to get more bouquets than brickbats for showering benefits on senior citizens (through a noteworthy corpus fund), on aam aadmi (increase in deductions on tax savings) as well as industry (a tax cut of five per cent).
The economy watchers also nodded approvingly saying Jaitley had left his mark.
Oh, and The Dress watchers contributed to the fun on Twitter as they replugged a picture of the FM's waistcoast from last year - he sported a golden one then!