Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman quoted four poets in her Budget speech: Pt. Dinanath Nadim, Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar and Kalidas, a sweep from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir, from ancient to contenporary India. In 2019, Sitharaman’s speech made references to Chanakya Niti Sutra — “Karya purusha karena lakshyam sampadyate” which translates to “determined human efforts can ensure that a task is completed”.
The Kashmiri nationalist poet Dinanath Nadim was at the centre of Kashmir’s progressive movement, especially in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Nadim was born in 1916, and passed away in 1988. Nadim wrote in Kashmiri, Hindi and Urdu, and inspired a powerful tradition of Kashmiri poetry.
Nadim received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for his opera Shuhul Kull (The Shady Tree). Among his other well known works are Vitasta (Jhelum River), Safar Taa Shehjaar (The Journey And The Shade), Heemaal Taa Naaegrai (Heemaal and Naagraaj), and Bombur Taa Yamberzal (The Bumble Bee And The Narcissus Flower).
Sitharaman quoted from Nadim’s poem “Myon Watan”, which translates into English as “My Motherland”. Sitharaman gave a Hindi translation of the lines she recited: “Humara watan khilte hue Shalimar Bagh jaise, humara watan Dal Lake mein khilte hue kamal jaisa, nau jawanon ke garam khoon jaisa, mera watan tera watan, humara watan, duniya ka sabse pyara watan… (Our motherland is like the Shalimar Bagh, our motherland is like the lotus in the Dal Lake; like the energy of the youth; my nation, your nation, our nation, the most adorable nation in the world.”
Avvaiyar translates to “Respected Woman”, and the title was used by several woman poets who contributed to Tamil literature during different periods of time.
In the Budget’s section on “Aspirational India”, Sitharaman said, “Our government shall encourage balanced use of all kinds of fertilizers including the traditional organic and other innovative fertilizers. This is a necessary step to change the prevailing incentive regime, which encourages excessive use of chemical fertilisers.”
She quoted from Aaathichoodi’s verse 81 which translates to “first tend to till one’s land and then eat. One must eat only after work.”
Thiruvalluvar, the Tamil poet and philosopher regarded as a cultural and moral icon for Tamils across caste and religious lines, is best known as the author of Thirukkural, a collection of couplets on ethics, politics, economics, and love.
In November 2019 a controversy over Thiruvalluvar’s history emerged after the BJP state unit tweeted a photograph of him, in which his white robes had been replaced with saffron ones, drawing protests from Dravidian and Left Parties.
While presenting the Budget Sitharaman quoted Thiruvalluvar: “Pini Inmai Selvam Vilaivu Inbam Emam Ani Enba”, which loosely translates to having the “five jewels” required for a country that is without illness, with wealth, with good crops, with happiness, as well as safety and security.
Kalidas, the legendary Sanskrit scholar, is believed to have lived during the middle of the fourth and early fifth centuries AD, during the reigns of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya and Kumaragupta.
Raghuvamsa, from which Sitharaman quoted, is one of two long epic poems written by Kalidas. She mentioned the 18th verse: “Surya, the Sun, collects vapour from little drops of water. So does the King. They give back copiously. They collect only for people’s wellbeing.”
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