Photos: India's Finance Ministers

25/02/2015 7:22 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Bloomberg via Getty Images
INDIA - JULY 08: Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram carries the briefcase containing his first budget as he enters Parliament House in New Delhi Thursday, July 8, 2004. India's new government will curb its budget deficit as a growing economy swells tax receipts, allowing it to spend more on India's 400 million poor, Chidambaram told parliament. (Photo by Sondeep Shankar/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

India's finance ministers have gone from being the shepherds of a shaky and uncertain economy in the early days of independence to the masters of one of the world's largest economies.

In all, there have been 26 finance ministers. On occasion, the Prime Minister has kept the finance portfolio. Some are barely remembered today, while some others are tall figures in modern India's political history.

The ceremonial budget speech and the briefcase carried by the finance minister borrows froman old Britain's ritual. Except, the same attaché is no longer handed down from one finance minister to the next.

Here are pictures of India's finance ministers. The pictures of the following ministers are unavailable: R.K. Shanmukham Chetty (1947-1949), John Mathai (1949-1951) and Sachindra Chaudhuri (1965-67).

  • CD Deshmukh
    The Times of India Group
    C.D. Deshmukh, a topper of the elite Indian Civil Services examination, was finance minister 1950 to 1957, when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister.
  • TT Krishnamachari
    The Times of India Group
    T T Krishnamachari was finance minister from 1957 to February 1958, when he was forced to resign from his post for his involvement in the Mundhra scandal. Faced with a Balance of Payment crisis, he took drastic measures. There were massive curbs on imports. Excise and customs duties were raised to peak rates of 400 percent. Wealth and expenditure taxes were introduced.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
    The Times of India Group
    Jawaharlal Nehru held the shortest finance portfolio that lasted one month from 13 February to 13 March in 1958.
  • Morarji Desai
    The Times of India Group
    Morarji Desai was the first Prime Minister to head a non-Congress government. He was also the only finance minister (1967-69) to present the budget on his birthday.
  • YB Chavan
    The Times of India Group
    Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan served as Finance Minister for four years from 1971 to 1975, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. He implemented twin nationalisations, of coal and insurance, and hiked peak income tax rate to 97.5 per cent, a level unthinkable today.
  • Indira Gandhi
    The Times of India Group
    Indira Gandhi was first elected prime minister in 1966, and also held the post of finance minister for a year in 1969. Her policies led to abolition of privy purses, and nationalization of the fourteen largest banks in India.
  • C Subramaniam
    The Times of India Group
    C Subramaniam served from as Finance Minister 1975 to 1977.
  • Haribhai M Patel
    The Times of India Group
    Haribhai M Patel served as finance minister in the Morarji Desai cabinet from 1977 to 1979. He was one of India's highest-ranking civil servants till 1959.
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh
    The Times of India Group
    Chaudhary Charan Singh was finance minister from January to July 1979. He became prime minister of a fractious coalition right after, and stayed in office for less than a year.
  • Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna
    The Times of India Group
    Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna served as Finance Minister from July 1979 to January 1980, and was known for his major influence in organising trade unions.
  • R Venkataraman
    The Times of India Group
    Ramaswami Venkataraman was finance minister from 1980 to 1982, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. He later became the President of India.
  • V.P. Singh
    The Times of India Group
    V.P. Singh introduced MODVAT as finance minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet in 1986. But he became famous later, when he became the eighth Prime Minister in a coalition government, and implemented Mandal Commission's recommendation for reserving jobs for lower castes.
  • Rajiv Gandhi
    The Times of India Group
    Rajiv Gandhi held the finance portfolio briefly after being elected Prime Minister in 1985 with a resounding majority.
  • Narayan Dutt Tiwari
    The Times of India Group
    Serving as the finance minister during Rajiv Gandhi's reign as Prime Minister, Narayan Dutt Tiwari also served as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 2007 until 2009, when he was forced to resign after a sex scandal.
  • SB Chavan
    The Times Of India Group.
    Shankarrao Bhavrao Chavan S B Chavan (centre) served as finance minister in 1988-89 under Rajiv Gandhi. In this picture, he is seen arriving at the Parliament Houseto present Union Budget for financial year 1989-90 on March 01, 1989.
  • Madhu Dantavate
    The Times of India Group
    Madhu Dandavate was finance minister for a little less than a year in 1989-90 in the V.P. Singh cabinet.
  • Yashwant Sinha
    The Times of India Group
    Yashwant Sinha, before serving as Minister of Finance from November 1990 to June 1991 (under Chandra Shekhar) also taught political science at the University of Patna till 1960. He had another, longer stint as finance minister from March 1998 to July 2002, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India.
  • Manmohan Singh
    The Times of India Group
    Manmohan Singh was chosen by (then) Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao as Finance Minister in 1991. He presented a revolutionary budget, bringing in economic liberalization, that forever changed India from being a socialist economy to one that welcomed Indian and foreign private companies to invest.
  • Jaswant Singh
    The Times of India Group
    Jaswant Singh first served as finance minister under Atal Bihari Vajpayee's initial short reign of 13 months. He was re-appointed by Vajpayee again when he came back to power, this time for the full term, and served for two years from 2002 to 2004.
  • Palaniappan Chidambaram
    Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
    Palaniappan Chidambaram held the post of Finance Minister thrice - first under the Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral cabinets in 1996-98, then from May 2004 to November 2008 in the first UPA government, and then from July 2012 until May 2013. In his first stint, his so-called 'Dream Budget' cut personal income tax and corporate tax. It introduced a Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme to flush out black money.
  • Inder Kumar Gujral
    The Times of India Group
    When he became Prime Minister in 1997, I.K. Gujral kept the finance portfolio with himself for a month.
  • Pranab Mukherjee
    PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images
    Currently the 13th President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was the Union Finance Minister from 2009-2012, a stint now remembered for introducing retrospective tax rules. He also served as FM in 1982-84 in the Indira Gandhi cabinet and became one of her most trusted aides.
  • Arun Jaitley
    Arun Jaitley is India's current Finance Minister. He is one of India's best-known lawyers and a past president of the Delhi University students union.