‘Ruler is one who creates wealth’ — FM Nirmala Sitharaman quotes poet Thiruvalluvar again


Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ahead of presenting the Budget Monday | Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ahead of presenting the Budget Monday | Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the 2021-22 Union Budget Monday quoted renowned Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, much like she did last year.  

Just before announcing her proposal for direct tax, Sitharaman quoted from the poet’s works. “A king/ruler is the one who creates and acquires wealth, protects and distributes it for common good,” she said.

This is not the first time Sitharaman has quoted the Thiruvalluvar. She had turned to his works, while presenting the Union Budget in 2020, to explain the five “jewels” required for a “good country”. 

Speaking from Thiruvalluvar’s widely hailed selection of couplets Thirukkural, she had then said, “Pini inmai selvam vilaivu inbam emmam, ani enba naattirku iv aindhu (Health, wealth, production, happiness and security, these five in a country are its ornaments of beauty).”  

Not just Sitharaman

It appears that the Tamil poet was the favourite of another finance minister. 

Before Sitharaman, her predecessor in the Congress-led UPA regime, P. Chidambaram, had quoted Thiruvalluvar in several budget speeches — in fact the Tamil poet has been referred to as Chidambaram’s muse for his previous budget speeches.

In 2013, Chidambaram took a few lines out of Thirukkural and ended his budget speech by saying, “Kalangathu Kanda Vinaikkan Thulangkathu Thookkang Kadinthu Seyal (What clearly eye discerns as right, with steadfast will and mind unslumbering, that should man fulfill).” 

Chidambaram also quoted the Tamil poet in his budget speech of 2008. According to media reports, Chidambaram began quoting Thiruvalluvar as far back as 1996, when he took over as the finance minister for the first time. 

Who is Thiruvalluvar?

Thiruvalluvar was a Tamil poet and philosopher. While there is no exact information on the timeline of his life, it has been written that his work Thirukkural can be dated to 450-500 AD. 

He is best known for his work Thirukkural, which is a compilation of 1,330 couplets that are divided into 133 sections of 10 couplets each. Each focus on ethics, economical matters, politics and love.

Thiruvalluvar has been compared to global thinkers such as Plato and John Milton. He was known to be a Jain but both Buddhists and Shaivites claim him as their own. 

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