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Hyderabad: In recent years, there has been conflicting interpretations regarding the nature and the characteristic features of the Asaf Jahi rule. In particular the period of last two Nizams i.e., the sixth and the seventh (1869-1948) has been subjected to critical analysis.

One group of scholars present a negative picture of the last phase of the Asaf Jahi rule by depicting certain features like autocratic polity and aristocratic-feudal domination. While another set of scholars tend to come up with a positive developments like growth of education, industries, composite culture, etc.

Therefore, it is necessary to re-assess and re-interpret the modern history of Hyderabad State on the basis of authentic source materials and data. The formation of new Telangana State has brought forward several issues and challenges. The issue of Telangana has been a topic of public and intellectual debate for over six decades.

However, there are few academic and scholarly works which have analysed the nature and characteristic features of modern Telangana. Indeed the modern period has been pre-eminently a time for searching out the hitherto forgotten/neglected aspects, records and sources as well as to bring out the new sources of information by delving into hitherto neglected archival records and critically analysing the contradictory interpretations/debate by scholars.

Thus 19-20th century history of Telangna is of supreme importance to historical research as it will endeavour to reflect the current status of research and to uncover the many areas where new and additional research is needed.

The period between 1853 and 1883 is crucial for understanding and analyzing the contours of the birth of modern Telangana: the year 1853 signifies the beginning of Salar Jung’s reforms which led to the fundamental changes in the administrative and socio-economic-cultural fields in the Nizam’s Dominions.

As a Regent and Prime Minister he served three Nizams for 30 years (1853-1883). The Salar Jung reforms contributed for the improvement of the State’s finances and administrative and socio-economic system. The second half of the 19th century was also a period of significant changes in the administrative, economic, education and socio-economic fields.

Similarly, the reign of the sixth Nizam, Mir Mahaboob Ali Pasha 1869-1911 was also significant in bringing about major changes in the political, administrative, socio- economic and cultural fields. He was a popular ruler of Hyderabad who became the “beloved of the people”. He was liberal and a visionary. The multisided progress in the field of administration, industries, trade and commerce and education has transformed the Hyderabad State from medievalism to modernity.

The reforms of Salar Jung and the sixth Nizam were carried forward by the last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, 1911-1948 CE. During his period the Hyderabad State witnessed significant changes in the agricultural, economic, industrial, trade and commercial sectors. The growth of public sector major industries like coal mines, railways, roads, motor transport, post and telegraphs, education, irrigation and so on were the distinctive features of the Hyderabad State under the last Nizam.

The rule of the last two Nizam’s i.e., 6th and 7th also witnessed the flourishing of the composite culture in the Nizam’s Dominions. The growth of art and architecture literature fine arts signified the distinctive Deccan culture and the emergence of a new era in the history of Telangana.

The Hyderabad State, located in the Deccan plateau, was endowed with rich mineral and forest resources, diverse raw materials as well as black cotton soils. The land tenure systems and agrarian economy were based on feudal relations, yet since the late 19th century commercialisation of agriculture in terms of the growth of export oriented cotton and oil-seeds facilitated integration of Hyderabad economy into the national and international markets.

The so-called subsistence economy was transformed into a money economy. As the Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Salar Jung was responsible for the restructuring of administrative system and the socio-economic relations. The land tenure, agrarian reforms, fiscal and taxation policies, encouragement for the growth of trade, commerce and modern industries, growth of modern/western education system, development of public works and infrastructure, have played a crucial role in the process of modernisation and socio-economic transformation.

Hence, as a visionary and development-minded statesman and administrator Sir Salar Jung was rightly described as “the architect and moderniser of Hyderabad state”.

To be continued …..

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Author: Howard Caldwell