Mir Osman Ali Khan
Asaf Jah VII - Nizam VII

1911 - 1948

Titles of Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII (Nizam VII):

Lieut-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 Osman 'Ali Khan Bahadur, Sipah Salar, Fateh Jang, Faithful Ally of the British Government, Sultan-ul-Uloom, G.C.S.I., G.B.E., Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar.

Barely three hours had passed after Mir Mahboob Ali Khan’s death that Mir Osman Ali Khan was proclaimed the seventh Nizam (VII Nizam).

Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan was twenty five years old when he ascended to masnad of Hyderabad. He came to rule a domain covering 82,698 square miles. Mir Osman was a contrast of sorts to his father. Mir Mahboob Ali Asaf Jah VI was a compassionated and a generous ruler, always transparent in his dealings with the people. However, his son Mir Osman was assertive, shrewd and distrustful of those around him. These contrasts of character and outlook between father and son were stark; this was evident in the dealings the latter had with the Government of India (both pre and post Independence).

Cast in a completely different mould, the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, was to earmark an era unlike any of his predecessors.

The initial years of Osman’s reign saw him behaving as an autocratic ruler, concentrating all the powers to himself; he even got rid of his advisors. His leading Peshkar, Maharaja Kishen Pershad, also fell out of favour with the Nizam. Soon after his exit, the Nizam appointed a young Salar Jung III as a replacement. The appointment of Nawab Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III, lasted for only two years (1912 – 1914).

With the onset of World War I in 1914, the Nizam gave a huge amount of monetary and material aid to the British Government. The Nizam’s own army served with the British at the war front. The Nizam’s loyal and unprecedented support to His Majesty’s Government won him a friend in the King, which was exemplified in the raising of the Nizam’s 14 gun salute to the favored 21 gun salute – the highest accorded to any Indian ruler. Along with it, the Nizam was made a Lieutenant General of the British Army but the most laudatory form of acknowledgment came in an elevated title. His Highness the Nizam was elevated to the status of His Exalted Highness (from H.H. to H.E.H).

Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Prince Heir Apparent
(Later H.E.H. The Nizam VII)
A.D.1889 - The Chowmahalla Palace Collection

One of the most important legacies the seventh Asaf Jah left, relates to the care he showed for the preservation of historical monuments. He took keen interest in the restoration of the newly-discovered Ajanta and Ellora Caves at Aurangabad. The Nizam initiated the Archaeology department of Hyderabad to take up the excavation and cleaning of the caves and he even invited two leading Italian experts at the expense of the State to supervise the restoration work.

The Nizam continued his support to the British when World War II broke out in 1939. He still remained “Faithfully Ally” to the King of England. Hyderabad supplied gain, coal, military facilities, camps and its own cantonments to all transiting soldiers. This unstinted support won words of praise from even Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Speaking in the House of the Lords, Churchill said.

“His Exalted Highness has been with the Allies throughout the fluctuations of this arduous struggle with gracious help in men, money and materials. His troops have done sterling service in Malaya, in the Middle East and the Squadrons which bear Hyderabad’s name have shared in the achievements of the RAF….”

Mir Osman Ali Khan’s legendary wealth enabled him to support the British during both the World Wars. His wealth was acquired in the age-old tradition known as the Nazar; every time an audience was given, a cash offering in gold coins had to be given to the ruler. The Nazrana, however, degenerated into a form of a forced taxation during Osman’s rule, unlike during his father’s, when none of the nazar went into Mahboob’s personal pocket. All nazars during Mir Mahboob’s reign were clearly accounted for in the state treasury.

In subsequent years, Hyderabad grew economically and culturally. The city’s infrastructure improved: streets were laid and roads widened. Irrigation projects and dams began to supply water to the city. Public buildings as the Osmania General Hospital, the Assembly Hall, and the High Court were all built. The city of Hyderabad took on a new modern face under H.E.H. The Nizam VII’s rule.

H.E.H. Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII continued to rule Hyderabad until the state was merged with the Union of India in 1948. The Nizam’s refusal to join the Indian Union in 1947 triggered the Police Action on September 18, 1948. The Nizam signed the Instrument of Accession and the State was integrated into the Indian Union. Though deposed, he was allowed to stay on in Hyderabad wherein he accepted the position of Rajpramukh when the state’s government was established in 1950. He occupied this office till the formation of Andhra Pradesh in November 1956.

The last Asaf Jah retreated into his private residence at King Kothi for the remaining years of his life. He died on February 24, 1967 bringing an end to a remarkable two hundred and twenty four year old reign of single ruling family – the Asaf Jahi dynasty.

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