Nizam’s Miserly Pursuits

Rehan Sheikh, Class 9, South Point High School

It would be too light to portray Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. as just ‘wealthy’. For the first fifty years of the 20th century, Mir Osman Ali Khan was the richest man in the world and had a wealth of seventy-six billion two hundred sixty-one million five hundred thousand. Despite his legendary riches, the Nizam lived a life very akin to that of a fakir. He would be seen with a shabby fez on his head, white cotton pyjamas, and a robe that he never changed for 35 years! Despite being the richest man he was a legendary miser.

During those days, a favoured accomplishment in the courts was piercing a bullet through a silver coin in the air. Osman Ali Khan was well-skilled in this art, and it is believed that it took him just one shot to puncture the coin. However, one intriguing incident was observed by his father, Nizam Mir Mehbub Ali Khan on one of his visits to the training campus. He discovered the young prince collecting pieces of blasted coins from the garden! Amused and surprised by this, Nizam Mir Mehbub Ali Khan left a bagful of silver coins for his son. However, still, the young prince would scamper around to collect the scraps of blast-shot silver coins. Nevertheless, it suggests that Nizam Osman Ali Khan was a miser from his boyhood.

A hilarious incident was also captured by Lord Irwin, the Viceroy of India (1926-1931). On a state visit to Hyderabad in the 1920s, he was shocked to find the Nizam taking the support of a worn-out walking stick cracked at an end! He said, “Your Exalted Highness…. Please take care!” and slipped away. The Nizam did accept his suggestion, and the next time Lord Irwin met him, he proudly showed the walking stick. The Nizam had put a steel ring around the broken end to prevent the crack from expanding further!

Towards the end of his days, it struck him that his courtiers might fight with each other to grab his treasuries in case he is forced to flee from Hyderabad without money. Hence, he loaded several trucks with silver coins and kept them ready in the backyard. After his death, all riches were found and one of his subjects advised the Nizam’s successor grandson to claim the money before any black hat took all of it away. It is believed that there was an electric power failure in the palace and all the trucks filled with money riches were driven away by miscreants.

All his legendary riches were squandered and looted.


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