‘Nizams looked beyond region, religion’

HYDERABAD: Grounding her research on Karl Marx’s observation that, “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their social existence, rather on the contrary it is their social existence that determines their consciousness,” Salma Ahmed Farooqui said on Wednesday that people during the era of the Nizams were cosmopolitan by nature.

Delivering the fifth Sheela Raj Memorial Lecture at Salar Jung Museum, Farooqui, who is an associate professor of history at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (Manuu), pointed out that the former Hyderabad State was peopled with several nationalities besides the natives. There were Europeans from France and Britain, Arabs from Yemen, Africans from Ethiopia and Pathans from Afghans, among a large number of foreign communities that were living side by side in peace with the local population and also serving the state in various capacities.

Dealing with the title of her lecture, ‘Diverse social groups under the Asaf Jahs (Nizams)’ she said that many caste and ethnic groups were brought here by the first Nizam Mir Qamruddin Ali Khan from the north when he established his rule in the Deccan in 1724. Among those who rose to position of influence then included Rai Daulat Rai, Girdhari Pershad Bansi Raja, Raja Chandulal and the family of Salar Jung, she said. “One of the nobles among them, Raja Ram, was in charge of 36 departments including the kitchen which required complete trust of the ruler in him,” she said and concluded that the region and religion did not matter in the appointment of officers in positions of critical importance.

She divided the populace into five social groups – the nobility, administrators and bureaucrats, professionals, foreigners and the women. In the class of nobles, she made special mention of the House of Paigah and the Rajas of Samsthans. While the Paigah nobles were accepted by the Nizams for giving their daughters to them in matrimonial alliance, the Rajas of Samasthans enjoyed considerable autonomy. The position of the nobles could be recognized by the titles and rewards given to them by the Nizam. Among them came the jagirdars and mansadars. “The Raja of Gadwal Samasthan enjoyed the privilege of contributing to the military of the Nizam,” she said.

Among the communities that came along with the first Nizam and became important administrators, the Kayasthas stood out in their service and rose to the position of prime minister. At the same time it was the first Salar Jung who brought about a radical change in the administration of the kingdom and bailed it out from a serious financial crisis, the academic said.

She revealed that the Nizams continued with the tradition to have a military force of women. “There were two battalions that comprised women from lower castes,” she pointed out.

Historian Sheela Raj, in whose memory the lecture was organized, had written several books on the Hyderabad State including ‘Medievalism to Modernism’ and ‘Portrait of an Era’ which were released on Wednesday. She came from a well known family of Kayastha administrators.

Historian Ziauddin Ahmed Shakeb, who presided over the function, spoke about the research and census that were carried out on native tribes such as Bheel and Gonds during the era of the last Nizam. [Times of India]

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