Hyderabad: He is known for his riches and the string of public buildings he built in Hyderabad. But what is less known about him is the enormous contributions he made to education, science and development. The 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan, was a man of eccentricities. He would knit his own socks and yet use the famed 185-carat Jacob diamond as a paperweight. He would don patched pyjama and crumpled sherwani and at the same time open purse-strings to give away largesse to educational institutions.
Osmania University is among the scores of institutions he promoted. A patron of art and culture, the last Asafj Jahi ruler contributed liberally to establishment of educational institutions both within and outside the country. What is significant is that he did not confine his handsome donations to only Hyderabad or just Muslim institutions but gave to all academic institutions without any discrimination or prejudice.
“The seventh Nizam exhibited extraordinary interest in propagation of education and extended financial assistance to every institute”, says Dr. Syed Dawood Ashraf, who has authored a book on the contribution of the Nizam to education, art and culture.
The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona and the Banaras Hindu University are among the prominent non-Muslim institutions to receive considerable financial aid on par with the Muslim institutions like Aligarh Muslim University, Nadvatul Ulama Lucknow and Darul Uloom Deoband.
Records available with the A.P. State Archives and Research Institute show that on an application from the secretary, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, the Nizam made an initial grant of Rs. 25,000 for construction of a guest house and Rs. 1000 per annum for a period of ten years for publication of Mahabharat. The financial aid was subsequently enhanced for both the projects.
Finance Secretary, Sir Akbar Hydari, while presenting the case to Nizam expressed his opinion that Mahabhart was one of the most celebrated epics and a scripture of national importance.
“Patronizing its publication deserved sympathetic consideration”, he recommended in his note
and it was promptly accepted by the Nizam.
Whenever he received representations, Osman Ali Khan patronized and propped up educational institutions and universities even beyond the boundaries of his state. While Aligarh Muslim University enjoyed a favoured status, other institutions like Tagore’s Shanti Niketan,
Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University too received the Nizam’s benevolence.
Shanti Niketan received a grant of Rs. 1 lakh during 1926-27 and it was later enhanced to Rs. 1.25 lakh when Dr. Rabindranath Tagore himself visited Hyderabad for this purpose. Records show that the Nizam approved a grant of Rs. 30,000 to the Banaras Hindu University and stuck to this decision even after the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh, who was the Chancellor of the University, pleaded for a larger grant.
However, the ‘Bab-i-Hukumat’ (Cabinet) debated the issue and later passed a resolution stating that when a small state like Rampur donated a sum of Rs. 1 lakh the aid from the Nizam should be in keeping with the esteemed position of the Hyderabad state. The Nizam immediately changed his original stand and approved grant of Rs. 1 lakh. “Though an autocratic ruler, he was receptive to reasonable opinion and did not stand on prestige”, says Dr. Ashraf.
The Nizam also played a key role in development of science and technology in the country. His generous contribution to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, bears this out. The Institute received an aid of Rs. 3 lakh over a period of 31 years and this is considered a milestone in the development of scientific temper in the country. On the request of Noble Laureate, Sir C.V. Raman, the Nizam made handsome donation to the Indian Academy of Science.
This apart Shivaji High School, Amravati, Hyderabad Telugu Academy are among the scores of Indian institutes to benefit from the Hyderabad State. The foreign institutes which received aid include Educational and Academic Institutes of England and Holland, School of Oriental Studies, London University, Idar-i-Maarif-i-Islamia, Lahore and Palestine University.
Not just educational institutions in Hyderabad but even those in the sub-continent and overseas drank from the fountain of munificence set up by the Hyderabad state. When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die. Obviously, the Nizam didn’t want to.