With a few weeks to go for the Union budget, we are slowly building up expectations. IIP Data released on Friday added to the hope quotient. Budget trades usually start a month ahead of the actual budget day. On D-Day, the trade usually ends as the expectations square up with the reality. Over the years, policy changes often preempt the budget removing the surprise element. The constant feature of the budget over the years has been the absence of the surprise quotient at least on the positive side. The surprise element has always been on the negative side.

This budget seems to be coming up against a lot of assumption expectations, especially on personal taxes. When tax reliefs are given, mostly our expectations extend a bit too far and reality always fails to please. So we need to factor in a lot of realism on that count. On reforms, we should see much creative packaging and messaging – a craft long absent from budget making. That remains the challenge of the FM in the coming weeks.

Capturing the imagination of the world is now a compelling need. This budget is a big match waiting to be played. In that sense, it has the same metaphoric intensity as subcontinental cricket. The only good news is that we are playing it against our own future needs and not against anybody.

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