Words in budget speech

Budget speech usually proposes multiple ideas and it is essential for analysts to followup on the actuals – Varun(@_quale)

As the current NDA government is about to finish first year in office, social media and traditional media is awash with analysis and comparisons with the previous government. The budget speech is usually a good barometer that indicates the priorities of the government and this post explores the text contained in budget speeches.

In order to undertake a rudimentary text analysis of the budget speech, the text of the first full-budget speech delivered by UPA  and NDA were used to obtain the following word clouds.

NDA year 1_17968

NDA budget speech for year 1 had 17,968 words

NDA interim budget_6595

The interim budget presented by NDA had 6,595 words

UPA year 1 budget_13148

UPA budget speech for year 1 had 13148 words

Word clouds are presented without any comment and it is left to the readers’ judgement to draw conclusions. It must however be noted that word clouds merely provide a pattern in the text and in a document like the budget speech  it is natural for the finance ministers to use terms like government, tax, per cent etc. One must also be cognisant of the fact that the budget speech is a combination of political and economic tools, with the scale tilted towards politics.

The following two images show the word clouds for all the budgets presented by UPA-I and UPA II between 2004-05 to 2013-14

UPA - I_72996

UPA I’s budget speeches had 72,996 words in total(inclusive of the interim budget in 2009-10)

UPA- II_65117

UPA II’s budget speeches had 65,117 words in total

The word “propose” features very highly in all the budgets, which signals the necessity to check the actual numbers that are published 2 years after the budget is presented.  Typically,  the budget estimates are presented for year n, along with the revised estimates for (n-1)th year and the actuals for (n-2)th year. Do read my colleague Pavan Srinath’s essay that outlines 5 broad ideas to read the budget commentary better.


The words “propose”, “government”, “tax”, “crore” ,”per cent”, “duty”,”lakh”, “year”, “http://indiabudget.nic”  were removed from the speech to obtain the following word clouds.

NDA budget 1 sans

NDA first full budget speech without the words “propose”, “government”, “tax”, “crore” ,”per cent”, “duty”,”lakh”, “year”, “http://indiabudget.nic”

UPA-I sans

UPA I speeches without the words “propose”, “government”, “tax”, “crore” ,”per cent”, “duty”,”lakh”, “year”, “http://indiabudget.nic”

UPA II sans

UPA II speeches without the words “propose”, “government”, “tax”, “crore” ,”per cent”, “duty”,”lakh”, “year”, “http://indiabudget.nic” .

Note:- The tool wordle was used to obtain word clouds. Hat-tip to @gkjohn for introducing this author to wordle.

Note 2- The complete text for UPA budgets can be found at UPA-I and UPA- II. NDA year 1 budget speech can be found here

Varun Ramachandra is a policy analyst at Takshashila Institution and tweets @_quale


DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.