Hyderabad: In recent years, there have been conflicting and contradictory interpretations regarding the nature and the characteristic features of the Asaf Jahi rule. In particular, the period of the 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 the features like autocratic polity, religious conflicts, and feudal domination. While another set of scholars tended to paint a rosy picture of positive developments like industrialisation, urbanisation, growth of modern education and so on. Therefore, it is necessary to re-assess and re-interpret the modern history of Hyderabad State on the basis of authentic and original rich historical source materials and data.
The present-day Telangana was a part of the erstwhile Hyderabad State. It was the second largest Princely State in India. The State of Hyderabad under the Asaf Jahis emerged after the decline of Bahamani and Qutb Shahi kingdoms and formed a polygonal tract occupying the centre of Deccan Plateau. The Asaf Jahi dynasty was founded in 1724 and seven Nizams ruled the Hyderabad State for more than two centuries until 1948.
The Nizams presided over an autocratic politico-administrative system and a feudal social order. It was a unique State which inherited the composite culture of the Deccan region. The Hyderabadi culture represents religious toleration and communal harmony of a heterogeneous society predominantly consisted of Hindus and Muslims. It also reflects how the major communities were influenced by each other’s culture and how they adopted each other’s customs, traditions, ceremonies, dress and life style.
The Nizam’s State was divided into three Linguistic regions, viz. Telangana (Telugu), Marathwada (Marathi) and Karnataka (Kannada). It was a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious State. According to the Census of 1941, 84% of the population were Hindus, 11% were Muslims and the rest belonged to other religions like Jains, Sikhs, Parsis etc. Among the linguistic groups, Telugus constituted about 50%, Marathis 25%, Kannadigas 11% and the rest belonged to other linguistic groups such as Bengalis, Tamils, Rajasthanis etc.
For the purpose of administration, the entire state was divided into four Subhas (administrative units) i.e., Warangal, Medak (Telangana), Aurangabad (Marathwada) and Gulbarga (Karnataka). The Telangana region which formed a part of the Nizam’s Dominions represented the unique Deccani culture and it has an identity of a specific regional character.
The formation of new Telangana State in 2014 has brought forward several issues and challenges. The Telangana question has been a topic of public and intellectual debate for over six decades. Historically, the period between 1853 and 1948 is crucial for understanding and analyzing the contours of the birth of modern Telangana: the year 1853 signifies the beginning of Sir 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). Salar Jung’s reforms contributed for the improvement of the State’s finances and administrative and socio-economic system. Thus, he was known as “the first modernizer of the Hyderabad State” and his reforms became a land mark in the history of modern Telangana.
To be continued…
Prof. Adapa Satyanarayana
Department of History, Osmania University