Titles of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan:
Asaf Jah VI, Nizam VI, Lieutenant-General H.H. Rustam-i-Dauran, Arustu-i-Zaman, Wal Mamaluk, Muzaffar ul-Mamaluk, Nizam ul-Mulk, Nizam ud-Daula, Nawab Mir Mahbub 'Ali Khan Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fath Jang, Nizam of Hyderabad, GCB, GCSI
The youngest Asaf Jah to inherit the masnad of Hyderabad was Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, barely three when his father died. Mahboob, whose name meant “beloved”, was a much-loved ruler. His reign of forty two years was the most cherished in the memory of Hyderabad. His lasting legacy is evident both in the affairs of the state but also imprinted in the lives and collective memory of his subjects.
Asaf Jah VI first ruled Hyderabad under a council of regency, led by the able Salar Jung I, Mir Turab Ali Khan – who practically decided the affairs of the state as the Co-regent. While the Nizam grew up under the strict supervision of English tutors, his upbringing was constantly scrutinized under the watchful eye of the British Resident. However, the overwhelming personality of Salar Jung I had a salutary influence on the young lad’s life, which was evidenced in his rule later on.
Hyderabad continued to grow and it enjoyed peace and stability.
The transition of the reins of power from the hands of Salar Jung I occurred when Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI, came of age at eighteen. The Nizam was invested with all administrative powers on February 5, 1884 at the Khilwat Mubarak, Chowmahalla Palace in the presence of the Viceroy, Lord Ripon. The very same afternoon, a durbar (public audience) was held and the Nizam conferred the diwanship on Mir Laiq Ali Khan, Salar Jung II. The post of the diwan lay vacant for nearly a year due to the sudden death of Salar Jung I because of cholera in 1883.
The young Asaf Jah was brought up in a manner befitting a Victorian gentleman. His many durbars, held during the visits of foreign dignitaries and royalty were famous since they revealed the wealth of the Asaf Jahi court in all its pomp and splendor. His wealth, effete court and his lavish expenditure on jewels was legendary. Though known to be a connoisseur of gems and jewellery, he was rarely seen bejeweled except in his younger days. As he grew older, he rarely wore jewellery except diamond-studded cufflinks, buttons and rings.
Apart from his lavish lifestyle, the Nizam was known for being compassionate. He relieved both his subjects as well as his own ministers from financial ruin and misery. In the wake of the devastating floods of 1908, he threw open his palaces to rehabilitate the homeless. In the case of his own noblemen, he pardoned their debts, as in the case of the Viquar-ul-Umra, who languished in midst of surmounting financial debts amounting to Rs.25 lakhs Characteristically, the Nizam cleared the entire debt but included in it the purchase of Falaknuma Palace (valued at Rs 25 lakhs along with its appurtenances) as a part of the blanket write-off.
Hyderabad prospered during Mahboob’s reign, with the establishment of railways, the installation of electric power, telephone lines and the laying of telegraph cables as well as the establishment of schools and colleges. An organized press was established with journals and newspapers in Urdu and English. Hyderabad had its first library established at this time.
Despite social progress, the Nizam’s enormous expenditure on account of his ostentatious lifestyle became a cause of concern for the state exchequer. His interest in purchasing the imperial diamond (later known as the Jacob diamond), despite a depleted State treasury, invited a stern reprimand from the British Resident. Mahboob acted upon the Resident’s advice and refused to buy it from Alexander Malcom Jacob, the seller. The dealings, however, took a turn for the worse when Jacob was unable to return Rs. 23 lakhs (half the price quoted for diamond), which the Nizam had paid Jacob as a security deposit to see the gem.
Since the Nizam did not approve the diamond, he wanted his money back. Jacob was unable to do so and the case ended up is a legal wrangle. The matter was ended in the Calcutta law courts and the jury acquitted Jacob of all charges of criminal misconduct. The Nizam soon became the owner of the diamond and Jacob slipped into despair and bankruptcy.
Mir Mahboob Ali Khan’s illustrious reign forty two years left Hyderabad a richer and more progressive state. He died young at forty five. A domestic quarrel between a senior begum nagging him to proclaim her son, Sahebzada Salabath Jha as his rightful heir instead of the chosen heir-apparent, Mir Osman Ali, turned bitter and the Nizam retreated and isolated himself at the Falaknuma Palace. The ‘Days of the Beloved’ came to a tragic and sudden end.