"We Indians treat our economy very much the way we treat our cricket," former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan once remarked while addressing the Johns Hopkins University. "India is cricket mad -- it is manic-depressive about cricket. When our team is doing well, it can do no harm," he commented. Economy is no cricket. Finance minister is no cricketer. But as India takes on New Zealand in the ICC World Cup semi-finals, top honchos and politicians kept the cricket fever alive to analyze the Union Budget delivered by the country's first woman 'finance captain'. Some called the 'strokes'' played by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman as "unnecessarily defensive", others who expected big boundaries were disappointed with her "steady singles".
Businessmen and industrialists went Twitter frenzy on Sitharaman's 'hits and misses' of the Union Budget. Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG Group, used the lexicon of cricket to drive his point on Sitharaman's maiden Budget. Goenka, who expected Sitharaman to play the 'dhana dhan' Dhoni innings tweeted, "The FM side-stepped a typical Dhoni innings and delivered the modern stroke play of Hardik Pandya."
Like most Indians, Anand Mahindra too is a huge cricket fan. Mahindra took to his Twitter handle to write his 'Tweet Nothings' on the Union Budget, "I was hoping @nsithraman ji would hit some boundaries. She chose instead to take steady singles and keep the run-rate moving". "With Team India in the semis, cricket fever is intensifying. Let me fuel that fever with a riddle: 'Talented in 64 squares; unstoppable in 50 overs'. Guess who this Indian player is. Fastest fingers to the right answer wins a Mahindra collectible scale model toy car....", he tweeted asking his followers to guess the name of the player.
While finance minister is no cricketer and economy is no cricket, Sitharaman batted like Pandya and bowled like Bumrah. When taxpayers expected an increase in the tax exemption limit, Sitharaman chose to ignore the ball ("well left" in cricket parlance) but clean bowled the super rich with her 'tax yorker'. In the Union Budget, Sitharaman announced that the surcharge for those earning Rs 2-5 crore will be increased to 3 per cent and for those earning above Rs 5 crore to 7 per cent.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor used cricketing analogy to make a commentary on the Union Budget. In the Lok Sabha, Tharoor said the Union Budget has "unnecessarily defensive strokes, drop catches and quite a few no balls". In his commentary, Tharoor said the Union Budget was marred with no-balls instead of bold boundaries. There was hardly any mention of GDP growth rate, he rued. On the government's fiscal deficit target of 3.3%, he said the same was announced last year. "The government had failed to meet the target," Tharoor said.
In the past, former RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya used cricketing terms to explain his point of view on monetary policy matters. "Combining my inflation and growth assessments, and given the Monetary Policy Committee's mandate to target headline inflation at 4% on a durable basis while paying attention to growth, I prefer to “take off the helmet” but “stay within the crease."
Sitharaman has many innings ahead of her, will she hit big boundaries?