There is an odd similarity between telangana then and now
Hyderabad, 31 July
At a moment of monumental change for Telangana, one thinks about it being not just the largest part of the erstwhile Hyderabad state, but the epic turn of fortunes of its supreme ruler Sir Osman Ali Khan.
Before the Police Action of 1948 when Sardar Patel forced this princely state to merge with the Indian Union, the Nizam saw no sense to be part of India or owe allegiance to Pakistan. He had it announced that by virtue of being India&’s largest princely state, he would be approaching the United Nations.
It was either his own identity crisis or a certain lack of understanding of the unfolding geopolitical scenario, the fact was that he wanted to back his wealth. He was already the richest man in the world and details of his legendary status were spoken in wide-eyed wonder under chandeliers from Europe to the Far East.
In the late 1930s, Iris Portal, sister of British politician Rab Butler, was working in Hyderabad. During a conversation with noted author Mr William Dalrymple she recalled an afternoon when Princess Niloufer, the Nizam&’s daughter-in-law took her to see some of the treasures hidden in one of the palaces.
They walked down a flight of stairs to find a huge underground vault which was full of trucks and heavy duty lorries. The vehicles were in a state of neglect but covered by tarpaulin. The women pulled it back to find piles of gems, pearls and gold coins. “The Nizam, fearful of either a revolution or an Indian takeover of his state, had made plans to get some of his wealth out of the country if the need came. But then he lost interest and left the lorries to rot,” Mr Dalrymple wrote. The disintegration of the Hyderabad state which Portal predicted in the 1930s, became a reality less than two decades later. And the wealth slowly vanished into the hands of opportunist relatives or turncoats. Then palaces were full of wealth, but there was poverty in the state. Among the royalty there were delusions of grandeur and the arrogance of power, but there was despair and desolation in the villages. Both situations, however, had a nice ending.