Mir Osman Ali Khan
His Exalted Highness Nawab Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi, Asaf Jah VII (6 April 1886 – 24 February 1967), was the last Nizam (ruler) of the princely state of Hyderabad, the largest princely state in British India. He ruled Hyderabad State between 1911 and 1948, until it was annexed by India. He was styled as His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad. He was one of the wealthiest people of all time. In 1937, he was featured on the cover of Time magazine, labelled as the richest person at the time, the 5th richest man in history and the richest Indian ever.
|Mir Osman Ali Khan|
|The Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VII (more)|
|Nizam of Hyderabad|
|Reign||Nizam: 29 August 1911– 17 September 1948|
Titular Nizam: 17 September 1948 – 24 February 1967
|Coronation||18 September 1911|
|Predecessor||Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI|
(Pretender: Azam Jah)
|Born||6 April 1886|
Purani Haveli, Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, British Indian Empire
(now in Telangana, India)
|Died||24 February 1967 (age 80)|
King Kothi Palace, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
(now in Telangana, India)
|Spouse||Dulhan Pasha Begum and others|
|Issue||Azam Jah, Moazzam Jah, and others.|
|Urdu||نواب میر عثمان علی خان|
|House||Asaf Jahi Dynasty|
|Father||Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI|
In many accounts, he is held to have been a benevolent ruler who patronised education, science and development. During his 37-year rule, electricity was introduced, railways, roads and airways were developed. He is credited with the establishment of numerous public institutions in the city of Hyderabad, including the Osmania University, Osmania General Hospital, State Bank of Hyderabad, Begumpet Airport, and Hyderabad High Court. Two reservoirs, namely Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were built during his reign, to prevent another great flood in the city.
He was also a philanthropist, donating millions of rupees to various educational and religious institutions all over India. Apart from his wealth, he was known for his eccentricities, as he used to knit his own socks, and borrow cigarettes from guests.
After India's independence in 1947, the Nizam did not wish to accede his state to the newly formed nation. By then, his power had weakened due to the Telangana movement and rise of a radical militia known as the Razakars. In 1948, the Indian Army invaded and annexed Hyderabad State, and the Nizam was forced to surrender. Later he was made the Rajpramukh of Hyderabad State between 1950 and 1956, after which the state was partitioned and became part of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The Nizam died in 1967.
- 1 Reign
- 2 Contributions to society
- 3 Wealth
- 4 Donations to Educational and Religious Institutions
- 5 Operation Polo and forced abdication
- 6 Name and titles
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Final years and death
- 9 Honours and legacy
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Mir Osman Ali Khan acceded as the Nizam of Hyderabad upon the death of his father in 1911. The state of Hyderabad was the largest of the princely states in pre-independence India. With an area of 86,000 square miles (223,000 km²), it was roughly the size of the present-day United Kingdom. The Nizam was the highest-ranking prince in India, was one of only five princes entitled to a 21-gun salute, held the unique title of "Nizam", and was titled "His Exalted Highness" and "Faithful Ally of the British Crown"
Early years (1911 to 1918)Edit
In 1908, three years before the Nizam's coronation, the city of Hyderabad was struck by a major flood that resulted in the death of thousands. The Nizam, on the advice of Sir M. Visvesvaraya, ordered the construction of two large reservoirs, namely the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar to prevent another flood.
He was given the title of "Faithful Ally of the British Crown" after World War One due to his financial contribution to the British Empire's war effort. (For example, No. 110 Squadron RAF's original complement of Airco DH.9A aircraft were Osman Ali's gift. Each aircraft bore an inscription to that effect, and the unit became known as the "Hyderabad Squadron".) He also paid for a Royal Navy vessel, the N-class destroyer, HMAS Nizam commissioned in 1940 and transferred to the Royal Australian Navy.
Post-World War (1918 to 1939)Edit
In 1919, the Nizam ordered the formation of the Executive Council of Hyderabad, presided by Sir Sayyid Ali Imam, and with eight other members, each in charge of one or more departments. The President of the Executive Council would also be the Prime Minister of Hyderabad.
The Begumpet Airport was established in the 1930s with formation of Hyderabad Aero Club by the Nizam. Initially it was used as a domestic and international airport for the Nizam's Deccan Airways, the earliest airline in British India. The terminal building was created in 1937.
Final years of reign (1939 to 1948)Edit
He arranged a matrimonial alliance between his son Azam Jah and Princess Durrushehvar of the Ottoman Empire. It was believed at that time that the matrimonial alliance between the Nizam and the deposed Caliph would lead to the emergence of a Muslim ruler who could be acceptable to the world powers in place of the Ottoman Sultans. After India's Independence, the Nizam made vain attempts to declare his sovereignty over the state of Hyderabad, either as a protectorate of the British Empire, or as a sovereign monarchy. However, his power weakened due to the Telangana rebellion and rise of the Razakars, a radical Muslim militia who wanted Hyderabad to remain under Muslim rule. In 1948, India invaded and annexed Hyderabad State, and the rule of the Nizam ended wherein the Nizam became the Rajpramukh and served from 26 January 1950 to 31 October 1956.
Contributions to societyEdit
Construction of major public buildingsEdit
Nearly all the major public buildings and institutions in Hyderabad city, such as Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad High Court, Jubilee Hall, Nizamia Observatory, Nizamia Hospital, Moazzam Jahi Market, Kachiguda Railway Station, Asafiya Library now known as the State Central Library, Hyderabad, Town Hall now known as the Assembly Hall, Hyderabad Museum now known as the State Museum and many other monuments were built under his reign. He also built the Hyderabad House in Delhi, now used for diplomatic meetings by the Government of India.
From giving donations to major educational institutions throughout India, he introduced many educational reforms during his reign. Almost 11% of the Nizam's budget was spent on education.
The foundation of agricultural research in Marathwada region of erstwhile Hyderabad State was laid by the Nizam with the commencement of the Main Experimental Farm in 1918 in Parbhani. During the Nizam's rule agricultural education was available only at Hyderabad; crop research centres for sorghum, cotton and fruits existed in Parbhani. After independence, this facility was developed further by the Indian government which was renamed as Marathwada Agriculture University on 18 May 1972.
He founded Osmania University; today it is one of the biggest universities in India. Schools, colleges and a Department for Translation were set up. Primary education was made compulsory and provided free for the poor.
Establishment of Hyderabad State BankEdit
In 1941, he started his own bank, the "Hyderabad State Bank" (later renamed State Bank of Hyderabad and, in 2017, merged into the State Bank of India) as the state's central bank. It was established on 8 August 1941 under the Hyderabad State Bank Act. The bank managed the "Osmania Sikka", the currency of the state of Hyderabad. It was the only state in India which had its own currency, the Hyderabadi rupee. Hyderabad was the only state in British India where the ruler was allowed to issue currency notes. In 1953, the bank absorbed, by merger, the Mercantile Bank of Hyderabad, which Raja Pannalal Pitti had founded in 1935.
In 1956, the Reserve Bank of India took over the bank as its first subsidiary and renamed it State Bank of Hyderabad. The Subsidiary Banks Act was passed in 1959. On 1 October 1959, SBH and the other banks of the princely states became subsidiaries of SBI. It merged with SBI on 31 March 2017.
After the Great Musi Flood of 1908, which killed an estimated 50,000 people, the Nizam constructed 2 lakes to prevent another great flood, namely Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar. The former was named after himself, and the latter after his son Mir Himayat Ali Khan.
The Nizam possessed such enormous wealth that he was portrayed on the cover of TIME magazine on 22 February 1937, described as the world's richest man. He used the Jacob Diamond, a 185-carat diamond that is part of the Nizam's jewellery, a precious collection running into several thousand crores of rupees today, as a paperweight. During his days as Nizam, he was reputed to be the richest man in the world, having a fortune estimated at US$2 billion in the early 1940s ($36.5 billion today) or 2 per cent of the US economy then. At that time the treasury of the newly independent Union government of India reported annual revenue of US$1 billion only.
The Nizam is known to have remained as the richest man in South Asia until his death in 1967, but his fortunes fell to US$1 billion by then as more than 97% of his wealth, including jewellery belonging to his family including his daughter's and grand daughters, was taken away by the newly formed Indian Government. Just prior to his death, the Nizam's personal fortune was roughly estimated to be £110 million, including £40 million in gold and jewels (equivalent to £2,092,009,967 in 2018),.
The Indian government still exhibits the jewellery as Nizam's jewellery Exhibition (now in Delhi). There are 173 jewels, which include emeralds weighing nearly 2,000 carats (0.40 kg), and pearls exceeding 40 thousand chows. The collection includes gemstones, turban ornaments, necklaces and pendants, belts and buckles, earrings, armbands, bangles and bracelets, anklets, cufflinks and buttons, watch chains, and rings, toe rings, and nose rings.
Gift to Queen Elizabeth IIEdit
In 1947, the Nizam made a gift of diamond jewels, including a tiara and necklace, to Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her marriage. The brooches and necklace from this gift are still worn by the Queen and is known as the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace.
Donations to Educational and Religious InstitutionsEdit
The Nizam donated Rs.82,825 to the Yadagirigutta temple at Bhongir, Rs.29,999 to Sita Ramachandraswamy temple, Bhadrachalam and Rs. 8,000 to Tirupati Balaji Temple.
 He also donated Rs.50,000 towards the re-construction of Sitarambagh temple located in the old city of Hyderabad.
Donation towards compilation of Holy MahabharataEdit
In 1932, there was a need for money for the publication of the Holy Mahabharata in the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute located in Pune. A formal request was made to the 7th Nizam (Mir Osman Ali Khan) who granted Rs.1000 per year for a period of 11 years. He also gave Rs 50,000 for construction of the guest house which stands today as the "Nizam Guest House".
Legend of gold donation to the National Defence FundEdit
According to an urban legend, Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan donated 5,000 kg of gold to the National Defence Fund of India in the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. The legend claims that Nizam gave the gold to Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965, when the latter visited Hyderabad during an India-wide tour to raise funds for the post-war economy. According to the story, Nizam asked only the boxes containing the gold to be returned.
In reality, the Nizam did not donate 5,000 kg of gold: rather, he invested 425 kg of gold in the National Defence Gold Scheme. The Scheme was floated by the government in October 1965 to deal with an economic crisis, and the investors were offered a 6.5% interest rate. The scheme included an amnesty clause: the gold acquired using income not disclosed to the income tax authorities was exempted from tax, if invested in the scheme. The Nizam indeed met Shastri in Hyderabad, and agreed to invest 425 kg of old gold mohurs (coins), which were valued at ₹ 5 million at the time. Shastri later thanked the Nizam at a public meeting, stating that the government planned to send these gold coins to foreign countries, expecting to obtain ₹ 10 million in return.
It is not clear who received the return on this investment. In 2018, the Nizam's grandson Mir Najaf Ali Khan stated that according to his knowledge, none of the 52 trusts created by the Nizam had received any money from this investment. English-language newspaper The Hindu submitted a Right to Information query to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2018 asking for information on the investment and the final beneficiary. However, the RBI refused to provide this information, citing "unwarranted invasion of the privacy" clause of the RTI law.
Operation Polo and forced abdicationEdit
After Indian independence in 1947, the country was partitioned into India and Pakistan. The princely states were left free to make whatever arrangement they wished with either India or Pakistan. The Nizam ruled over more than 16 million people and 82,698 square miles (214,190 km2) of territory when the British withdrew from the sub-continent in 1947. The Nizam refused to join either India or Pakistan, preferring to form a separate independent kingdom within the British Commonwealth of Nations.
This proposal for independence was rejected by the British government, but the Nizam continued to explore it. Towards this end, he kept up open negotiations with the Government of India regarding the modalities of a future relationship while opening covert negotiations with Pakistan in a similar vein. The Nizam cited the Razakars as evidence that the people of the state were opposed to any agreement with India.
Ultimately the new Indian government decided to invade and capture Hyderabad in 1948, in an operation code named Operation Polo. Under the supervision of Major General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri, one division of the Indian Army and a tank brigade invaded Hyderabad.
Name and titlesEdit
The Nizam was the honorary Colonel of the 20 Deccan Horse. In 1918, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur was elevated by King George V from His Highness to His Exalted Highness. In a letter dated 24 January 1918, the title Faithful Ally of the British Government was conferred on him.
His titles were:
- 1886–1911: Nawab Bahadur Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi
- 1911–1912: His Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Sir Osman 'Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Nizam of Hyderabad, GCSI
- 1912–1917: Colonel His Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Sir Osman 'Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Nizam of Hyderabad, GCSI
- 1917–1918: Colonel His Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Sir Osman 'Ali Khan, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Nizam of Hyderabad, GCSI, GBE
- 1918–1936: Lieutenant-General His Exalted Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Sir Osman 'Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Faithful Ally of the British Government, Nizam of Hyderabad, GCSI, GBE
- 1936–1941: Lieutenant-General His Exalted Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Sir Osman 'Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Faithful Ally of the British Government, Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, GCSI, GBE
- 1941–1967: General His Exalted Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Sir Osman 'Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Faithful Ally of the British Government, Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, GCSI, GBE.
Wives and childrenEdit
On 14 April 1920, the Nizam married Sahebzadi Azmath unnisa Begum (Dulhan Pasha Begum) (1889–1955), daughter of Nawab Jahangir Jung Bahadur, at Eden Bagh now known as Eden Garden at King Kothi, Hyderabad at the age of 21. Nawab Mir Khudrath Nawaz Jung Bahadur was the first brother-in-law of the Nizam, and the uncle of his sons Azam Jah (1907-1970), Moazzam Jah (1907-1987), and Shehzadi Pasha.
Azam Jah married Durru Shehvar, daughter of Abdul Mejid II (the last Ottoman Caliph and cousin and heir to the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire). They had two children, Mukarram Jah and Muffakham Jah. Moazzam Jah married Princess Niloufer, a princess of the Ottoman empire.
Final years and deathEdit
He died on Friday, 24 February 1967. He had willed that he be buried in Masjid-e Judi, a mosque where his mother was buried, that faced King Kothi Palace. The government declared state mourning on February 25, 1967, the day when he was buried. State government offices remained closed as a mark of respect while the National Flag of India was flown at half-mast on all the government buildings throughout the state. According to Nizam Museum documents,
The streets and pavements of the city were littered with the pieces of broken glass bangles as an incalculable number of women broke their bangles in mourning, which Telangana women usually do as per Indian customs on the death of a close relative.
Millions of people of all religions of different parts of the State entered Hyderabad in trains, buses and bullocks to see the last glimpse of their king's mortal remains in a coffin box in the King Kothi Palace Camp in Hyderabad. The crowd was so uncontrollable that barricades were installed alongside the road to enable people to move in the queue.
The Nizam's funeral procession was the biggest non-religious, non-political meeting of people in the history of India till that date.
Honours and legacyEdit
- Delhi Durbar Gold Medal, 1911
- GCSI: Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India, 1911
- GCStJ: Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John, 1911
- GBE: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, 1917
- King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, 1935
- King George VI Coronation Medal, 1937
- Royal Victorian Chain, 1946
- Osmania University, Osmania Medical College, Osmania General Hospital, Osmania Biscuit, Osman Sagar lake, Osmanabad, the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, the Nizam Gate of Ajmer Sharif Dargah, and HMAS Nizam (an Australian Navy N-Class destroyer) were named after him.
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