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Osman Ali Khan

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Osman Ali Khan

Mir asad Ali Khan Chin Chilich Khan Nizam-Ul-Mulk Asaf Jah VII
The Nizam of Hyderabad MP GCSI GBE
Reign Nizam: 1911–1948
Titular Nizam: 1948–1967
Coronation 18 September 1911
Urdu Urdu: میر عثمان علی خان
Born (1886-04-06)6 April 1886
Birthplace Purani Haveli, Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, British India
(now in Andhra Pradesh, India)
Died 24 February 1967 (age 80)
Place of death King Kothi Palace, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Buried Judi Mosque, King Kothi Palace, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Predecessor Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI
Successor Monarchy abolished
(Pretender:Mukarram Jah)
Consort Dulhan Pasha Begum, among many others
Issue Azam, Moazzam, and at least 18 other sons and 19 daughters
Royal House Asaf Jahi Dynasty
Father Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI
Mother Amat-uz-Zahrunnisa Begum
Religious beliefs Islam

His Exalted Highness Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi GCSI, GBE Asaf Jah VII (Urdu: آصف جاہ‎), born Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi Bahadur (Urdu: عثمان علی خان بہادر‎; 6 April 1886 – 24 February 1967), was the last Nizam (or ruler) of the Princely State of Hyderabad and of Berar. He ruled Hyderabad between 1911 and 1948, until it was merged into India. He was styled His Exalted Highness The Nizam of Hyderabad.[1]

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 ($33.7 billion in today dollars)[2] 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. He was featured on the cover of TIME magazine, portrayed as such.[3] The Nizam is widely believed to have remained as the richest man in South Asia until his death in 1967, though his fortunes fell to US$1 billion by then and became a subject of multiple legal disputes between bitterly fighting rival descendants. His wealth include a vast private treasury. Its coffers were said to contain £100m in gold and silver bullion, and a further £400m of jewels. Among them was the fabulously rare Jacob Diamond, valued at some £100m (2008),[4] and used by the Nizam as a paperweight. There were pearls, too – enough to pave Piccadilly – hundreds of race horses, thousands of uniforms, tonnes of royal regalia and Rolls-Royces by the dozen.[5] Calculating his modern day worth by accounting for inflation, the Nizam was worth $236 billion, making him one of the wealthiest people to have ever lived.[6]

He built the Hyderabad House in Delhi, now used for diplomatic meetings by the Government of India.


On 22 February 1937, Time magazine called the Nizam the richest man in the world. His vast inheritance was accumulated by way of mining royalties rather than land revenue. It should be noted that Hyderabad State in British India was the only supplier of diamonds for the global market in the 19th century.

Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi Bahadur acceded as 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 present-day United Kingdom. Its ruler 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 created "His Exalted Highness" and "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 RAFs original complement of DH.9As were Osman Ali's gift. Each aircraft bore an inscription to that effect, and the unit became known as the Hyderabad Squadron.[7]

Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur was the absolute ruler of this principality. In some accounts, he is held to have been a benevolent ruler who patronised education, science and development. His 37-year rule witnessed the introduction of electricity, railways, roads and airways were developed, the Nizamsagar lake in Hyderabad state was excavated and some irrigation projects on the Tungabhadra river were undertaken.

In 1941, Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur started his own bank, the Hyderabad State Bank (now State Bank of Hyderabad) as the state's central bank, which managed the Osmania sikka, the currency of the Hyderabad state. It was the only state which had its own currency, the Hyderabadi rupee, which was different from the rest of India. Banknotes of Hyderabad gives a good reference of the banking of that period.

In 1947, the Nizam made a gift of diamond jewels, including a tiara and necklace, to Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her marriage. The brooches and necklace from this gift are still worn by the Queen today.[8]

Nearly all the major public buildings in Hyderabad city, such as the Osmania General Hospital, Andhra Pradesh High Court, Asafiya Library now known as State Central Library, Town Hall now known as Assembly Hall, Jubilee Hall, Hyderabad Museum, now known as State Museum, Nizamia Observatory and many other monuments were built during his reign. Up to 11% of the Nizam's budget was spent on education. Osmania University was founded while schools and colleges and even a "Department for Translation" were set up. Primary education was made compulsory and provided free for the poor. The Nizam (as well as his predecessors) have been criticised for largely ignoring the native languages in favour of Urdu.

Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur donated to many institutions in India and abroad. Recipients included educational institutions such as the Jamia Nizamia, the Darul Uloom Deoband, Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University.

Hyderabad was the only state in British India where the ruler was allowed to issue currency notes. A 100 rupee note was introduced in 1918.

He also paid for a Royal Australian Navy vessel, N-class destroyer, HMAS Nizam (G38) commissioned in 1940.

Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur lived at King Kothi Palace—bought from a nobleman— during his entire life, after age 13. He never moved to Chowmahalla Palace not even after his accession to the throne.

Operation Polo & Abdication

After Indian independence in 1947, the country was partitioned on religious lines and Pakistan was established as a Muslim nation. 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 kingdom within the British Commonwealth of nations.

The proposal for independent state was rejected unambiguously by the British government. The Nizam then resolved upon exploring the possibility of independence. 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 on a similar vein. He also concurrently encouraged the activities of the Razakars. The Nizam cited the Razakars as evidence that the people of the state were opposed to any agreement with India.

As a result, the new Indian government decided to invade and capture Hyderabad in 1948. Under the supervision of Major General Choudhry one division of the Indian army and a tank brigade invaded Hyderabad. The battle was quick and the Nizam's troops and the mercenary soldiers called Razakars gave up easily. However it is estimated that 27,000 to 40,000 civilians were massacred during and following Operation Polo.

Marriages and children

On 14 April 1906, Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi Bahadur married Azmathunnisa Begum (Dulhan Pasha Begum) (1889–1955),[9] daughter of Nawab Jahangir Jung, at Eden Bagh now known as Eden Garden at king kothi, hyderabad at the age 21. She was the first of his seven wives and 42 concubines, and the mother of two eldest of his sons Azam Jah and Moazzam Jah. His second wife was Iqbal Begum daughter of Nawab Nazir Jung Bahadur (Mirza Nazir Beg)

The first brother-in-law of Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur was Nawab Khudrath Nawaz Jung son of Nawab Jahangir Jung,Sahebzada Mir Jahangir Ali Khan and younger brother of Dulhan Pasha Begum first wife of Osman Ali Khan

Their eldest son, Azam Jah, was married to Durru Shehvar, daughter of Abdul Mejid II (the last Ottoman Caliph and cousin and heir of the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire). Moazzam Jah married Princess Niloufer, a princess of the Ottoman empire.

It has been suggested that through these dynastic marriages, Osman Ali hoped to acquire the Caliphate for his descendants.

Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur had least 149 children, including:

  • Sahebzadi Yawar un-nisa Begum Sahiba (d. in childhood)
  • Sahebzadi Hidayat un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1901–1925)
  • Nizam uddin bahadur (1903–1987)
  • Azam Jah Sahebzada Mir Himayath ali khan (1907–1970)
  • Muazzam Jah Sahebzada Mir Shujayath Ali Khan (1907–1987)
  • Sahebzada Mir Osman 'Ali Khan Bahadur (29 February-30 June 1908)
  • Sahebzada Mir Kazim Ali Khan, Kazim Jah (1912–1952)
  • Sahebzada Mir Abid Ali Khan, Abid Jah (1913–1983)
  • Sahebzada Mir Hashmat Ali Khan, Hashmat Jah (1913–1988)
  • Sahebzada Mir Hashim Ali Khan, Hashim Jah (1913–1991)
  • Sahebzada Mir Taqi Ali KHan, Taqi Jah (1913–1985)
  • Sahebzadi Hurmat un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1913–)
  • Sahebzadi Karim Osman Murat un-nisa Begum (1913–)
  • Sahebzadi Jamal un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1913–1973)
  • Sahebzadi Behbood un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1914–)
  • Sahebzadi Mahmood un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1914–1984)
  • Sahebzada Mir Basharat Ali Kha, Basharat Jah (1915–1991)
  • Sahebzadi Mehar un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1915–1964)
  • Sahebzadi Ghaffoor un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1915–)
  • Sahebzadi Aleem un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1915–)
  • Sahebzadi Nazeer un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1916–1975)
  • Sahebzada Mir Rajjab Ali Khan, Rajjab Jah (1917–1968)
  • Sahebzada Mir Saadat Ali Khan, Sa'adat Jah (1917–1988)
  • Sahebzadi Faruq un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1918–)
  • Sahebzadi Kabir un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1920–)
  • Sahebzadi Masud un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1923–1980)
  • Sahebzadi Asmat un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1924–1979)
  • Sahebzaid Bashir un-nisa Begum Sahiba (1927–)
  • Sahebzadi Ramzani Begum Sahiba (1931–1974)
  • Sahebzada Mir Jawad Ali Khan, Jawad Jah (d. 1936)
  • stillborn son (1938)
  • Sahebzadi Mashadi Begum Sahiba (1939–)
  • Sahebzada Mir Zulfiqar Ali Khan, Zulfiqar Jah (1943–)
  • Sahebzada Mir Imdad Ali Khan, Imdad Jah (1944 – March 4, 2013)
  • Sahebzada Mir Nawazish Ali Khan, Nawazish Jah (1944–2010)
  • Sahebzada Mir Fazal Ali Khan, Fazal Jah (1946–)
  • Sahebzada Mir Bhojat Ali Khan, Bhojat Jah (1947–1982)
  • Sahebzada Mir Shabbir Ali Khan, Shabbir Jah (1948–1985)
  • Sahebzadi Sayida Begum Sahiba Malta (1949–)
  • Sahebzada Wahid Ali Khan (1951–1999)
  • Sahebzada Mohammed Ali Khan
  • Sahebzada Sardar ali Khan
  • Sahebzada Wajid ali Khan

Later life

Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur died on Friday, 24 February 1967. It was the end of a princely era. His funeral procession was one of the largest in Indian history. He had willed that he be buried in the Judi Mosque that faced King Kothi Palace.

Official name and titles

His Exalted Highness Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamalik, Asaf Jah VII, Muzaffar-ul-Mulk-Wal-Mamalik, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula Nawab Mir SirMir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur, Sipah Saula, Fateh Jung, Nizam of Hyderabad and of Berar, Knight Grand Commander of The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Royal Victorian Chain, Honorable General in the Army, Faithful Ally of the British Government.

His Exalted Highness 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.[10]

The titles during his life 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 Siddqi Bahadur, 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


Official title:

His Exalted Highness Rustam-I-Dauran, Arastu-I-Zaman, Lieutenant General, Muzaffar-ul-Mulk WalMamalik, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, Fateh Jung, Nizam-ud-Daula, Nizam-ul-Mulk, Asaf Jah, G.C.S.L, G.B.E., Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar.[11]

British Empire

Educational reforms

In the reigning tenure of Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi, Bahadur introduced certain educational reforms which were considered[by whom?] the most memorable achievements under his rule and the most lasting and impressive contribution. He was the founder of Osmania university in Hyderabad, which marked a new era in the annals of British educational policy in India.

As per sir Haidari, the original protagonist of scheme of Osmania University, the state always patronised learning and crafts. While agreeing the draft scheme for Hyderabad University, the seventh Nizam in his farmen put forth the objectives for the proposed university. In the forman, it was declared that in this university the modem, the ancient, the oriental, and western arts and crafts should be combined to remove the defects of the modern system of education so that one should draw full benefits from the ancient and modern system of education in the physical, intellectual and spiritual fields, and the university with the spread of education there should be a scope of improvement and reforms of the morals of the students. Further in this university there should be provision of real research facilities in all different sciences. Lastly, the basic principle of this university should be that Urdu should be the medium of instruction for higher education; but the study of English as a compulsory subject should be must for every student.

Before the establishment of the Osmania University, Hyderabad had lagged much behind in other British Indian provisions in field of education, but under the last nizam, Mir Mahboob ali khan, the Nizam College affiliated with the University of Madras had already started to function, although the number of graduates it had produced since the inception was very few. Moreover leaving aside the madarsas, there existed two other prominent education centres in addition to Nizam College. Taking the things into consideration, members of other communities were included in the Academic faculty and in the senate of Osmania university.

Finally, Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddqi Bahadur believed that Osmania University, besides providing higher education, should also be recognised universally as an important center of research, both in humanities as well as the sciences. Accordingly in 1936, Osmania University established post-graduate courses and research facilities in all the sciences: Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, Engineering, Metallurgy as well as Law, Education and Teacher training courses. Also, with a view of reaching a high standards of proficiency in all these courses, the seventh Nizam was very vigilant that the professor and lecturers in these faculties should be men of high calibre and good character.

Thus Osmania University by 1948 had reached its full stature, at both graduate and post graduates levels. Its degrees were accepted not only by the other Indian universities but by the British universities. Alumni of this university hold key roles in India as well as globally.



  • University of Queensland

Further reading

  • The Splendour of Hyderabad : The Last Phase of an Oriental Culture (1591–1948 A.D.) By M.A. Nayeem ISBN 81-85492-20-4
  • The Nocturnal Court: The Life of a Prince of Hyderabad By Sidq Jaisi
  • Developments in Administration Under H.E.H. the Nizam VII By Shamim Aleem, M. A. Aleem [1]
  • Jewels of the Nizams (Hardcover) by Usha R. Krishnan (Author) ISBN 81-85832-15-3
  • Fabulous Mogul: Nizam VII of Hyderabad By Dosoo Framjee Karaka Published 1955 D. Verschoyle, Original from the University of Michigan [2]
  • The Seventh Nizam: The Fallen Empire By Zubaida Yazdani, Mary Chrystal ISBN 0-9510819-0-X
  • The Last Nizam: The Life and Times of Mir Osman Ali Khan By V.K. Bawa, Basant K. Bawa ISBN 0-670-83997-3
  • The Seventh Nizam of Hyderabad: An Archival Appraisal By Sayyid Dā'ūd Ashraf [3]
  • Misrule of the Nizam By Raghavendra Rao [4]
  • Photographs of Lord Willingdon's visit to Hyderabad in the early 1930s By Raja Deen Dayal & Sons [5]

External links

  • Photos of Mir Osman Ali Khan (Asaf Jah Ruler – Nizam VII)
  • TIME Cover Story 1937
  • Nizam's fabled jewels dazzle Delhi
  • The Jacob Diamond of the Nizam
  • Nizam's cabinet – a real whodunit
  • The enigma that was Mir Osman Ali Khan
  • 1911 Encyclopedia
  • The Guardian – Dec' 2007
  • -logo.svg 
Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII
Born: 8th April 1886 Died: 24th February 1967
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI
Nizam of Hyderabad
Annexed by
Union of India
Titles in pretence
New title — TITULAR —
Nizam of Hyderabad
Succeeded by
Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah
Government offices
Preceded by
Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III
Prime Minister of Hyderabad
Succeeded by
Sir Sayyid Ali Imam
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