Friday, 19 October 2012

Mir Osman Ali Khan, Nizam VII of Hyderabad, the richest Indian of all time

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 16: On February 22, 1937, Time magazine featured Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last of Hyderabad’s Nizams, on its cover hailing him as the richest man in the world. Seventy-five years later the Nizam continues to figure in the list of the richest people ever lived on the globe.

And now, Celebrity Net Worth website, in its latest assessment of the world’s 24 richest people of all time, puts Mir Osman Ali Khan in the sixth slot. It also describes him as the richest Indian of all time. The website arrived at the richness of the former ruler of Hyderabad and others after adjusting inflation.

Time magazine had then put the net assets of the Nizam at two billion US dollars. When the amount is inflation-adjusted, he is now worth 236 billion US dollars.

The richness of Mir Osman Ali Khan can be gauged from the fact that he
used a diamond of the size of a hen’s egg as a paperweight on his
drawing table. Though he inherited much of his property from his
father, he added to the wealth in the form of revenue from coal
mining, land tax and gifts comprising diamonds and gold and silver
articles, often weighing several kilograms. One of the gifts was a
model of his throne cast in seven kgs of gold.

“The Nizam was quite rich. But he led a simple life. He was a
multi-linguist and great visionary. He spent 11 per cent of the budget
on education,” said Mir Kamaluddin Ali Khan, secretary of Mukarram Jah
Educational Trust.

Mir Osman Ali Khan had a personal collection of 350 kgs of diamonds,
mostly mined along the Krishna river valley. The Nizam Diamond at 277
carats was the world's third largest diamond.

To quote Time magazine (February 22, 1937): “India has no native state
so rich, potent and extensive as Hyderabad which is about the size of
the United Kingdom and there last week the Royal Family of the Asafia
Dynasty celebrated the Silver Jubilee of "The Richest Man in the
World," Lieut. General His Exalted Highness Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan,
the Nizam of Hyderabad & Berar”.

Apart from the numerous expensive gifts the Nizam received on the
silver jubilee of his ascension to the throne, he had a vast
collection of jewellery, which is now estimated several billion US

Mir Osman Ali Khan had his own bank and currency and several thousand
hectares of real estate and sprawling palaces. During the Indo-Pak
war, he donated two lorry loads of gold coins to the Indian government.

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