Nizam, a forward-looking ruler

Proscription of bonded labour and separation of judiciary from the executive may sound modern-day concepts. But the feudal State of Hyderabad enjoyed these progressive measures a good 90 years ago.

Sounds incredible. What's more, the revolutionary reforms found their way into princely Hyderabad much before they were adopted by British India. The credit for taking the initiative goes to the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan.

The ban on ‘begar' (forced labour) was made during the birthday celebrations of the Nizam on March 20, 1922 while the ‘farman' separating judiciary from the executive was issued on May 8, 1921.

Authentic records

These revelations are part of a new book on the last Asaf Jahi ruler. It gives a rare insight into the personality of the man dubbed ‘narrow minded, communal and a miser'. The author, Dr. Syed Dawood Ashraf, takes pains to clarify that he is not an admirer of an autocratic, monarchic and absolute form of governance. “But I can't gloss over the facts which speak otherwise”, he says.

In writing “The Seventh Nizam of Hyderabad – an archival appraisal”, Dr. Ashraf has not relied on grandma tales, spoken words or hearsay. On the contrary he has based his findings on authentic and irrefutable records preserved in the A.P. State Archives and Research Institute. The book is to be released on Sunday at Abul Kalam Azad Institute, Public Garden.

Dr. Ashraf, who served in the State Archives for 29 years, has done a thorough job of including the relevant royal decrees and references at the end of each article to substantiate his findings.

No distinction

The book tells how educational, academic and scientific institutions enjoyed the Nizam's patronage without any distinction of religion, caste and creed. An interesting incident shows how the Nizam made a landmark amendment in the Civil Service Rules which granted special leave not exceeding six months with full pay to Muslim, Christian and Jew government servants to undertake pilgrimage.

When a Hindu employee, Ram Swarup Tandon, applied for this leave to go on Jatra pilgrimage, officials were puzzled since the wordings of the rules did not extend the facility to Hindus. However, the matter went up to the Nizam and the royal assent was given to the amendment on July 29, 1934, permitting all government servants to avail of the facility.

Dr. Ashraf mentions many such instances in his book to show how the reforms and developmental activities of the last Nizam outweigh his shortcomings. Is he more sinned against than sinned?

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 11:34:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/nizam-a-forwardlooking-ruler/article3399826.ece

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