Once dubbed as the richest man in the world by Time magazine in 1937, Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, was the last Nizam (ruler) of the princely state of Hyderabad in India.

Early Life:

Born in 1886, Mir Osman Ali Khan belonged to the Asaf Jahi dynasty, which had ruled the princely state of Hyderabad since the early 18th century. A devout Muslim and highly educated, the young Osman Ali Khan was brought up in an atmosphere of traditional Islamic values and British-style schooling. This dual upbringing would later inform his reign, which was marked by economic progress and religious tolerance.

The Jewel in the Crown:

Osman Ali Khan ascended the throne in 1911, after the death of his father, Mir Mahbub Ali Pasha. Recognizing the importance of education and infrastructure, he invested heavily in the development of roads, railways, and schools. But what truly set him apart was his foresight in consolidating the wealth of Hyderabad. Amidst political and territorial flux, he managed the princely state’s assets skillfully, amassing wealth that would make him one of the richest men in the world.

Major Achievements:

  • Educational Reforms: Built numerous schools and colleges, establishing Osmania University, which was among the first to offer instruction in Urdu.
  • Healthcare Initiatives: Founded several hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout Hyderabad.
  • Financial Acumen: Managed the state’s resources to amass a vast fortune, including an impressive collection of jewels and antiques.
  • Political Neutrality: Maintained diplomatic relations with the British Empire while also being considerate of nationalist sentiments.


The reign of Osman Ali Khan was not without its complexities. His hesitation to join the newly independent India in 1947 led to a military operation known as “Operation Polo,” resulting in the annexation of Hyderabad into the Indian Union. Although remembered for his administration and charity, the Nizam was also criticized for his conservative approach towards democracy and political freedom.

Legacy/Current Status:

Osman Ali Khan left a significant cultural and economic legacy. Despite the controversies, he is remembered for his immense contribution to Hyderabad’s development. His family remains influential in Hyderabad, involved in various charitable activities and the preservation of their ancestral heritage.

Quick Facts:

  • Net Worth: Once considered the richest man in the world.
  • Key Assets: Nizam’s private estates, an invaluable collection of jewels, and numerous palaces.
  • Notable Quote: “My wealth and my possessions are all for my people.”
  • Did You Know?: He offered to donate diamonds to the Australian government during World War II but was politely declined.


The tale of Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, serves as a complex narrative interwoven with immense wealth, political sagacity, and a lasting legacy. His life raises a thought-provoking question: can a single ruler’s vision for progress ever truly compensate for political controversies? Regardless of the answer, the Last Nizam’s contributions to his state continue to resonate, making him a figure whose legacy is as fascinating as it is intricate.

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