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Friday, July 23, 2010

Richest Indian in history!

Who was the richest Indian in history? According to Forbes magazine, it was late Nizam Osman Ali Khan (1886-1967), the ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad, whose wealth, in the purchasing power of the inflation-adjusted US dollar terms of 2008 would have been the stupendous sum of USD 211 billion dollars. The world's richest man living, Bill Gates pales in comparison, as he is worth only USD $56 billion, about one fourth of the Nizam's wealth. By the same yardstick the personal wealth of the present King of Saudi Arabia was a plain USD 30 billion.

Further According to Forbes Magazine which compiles a worldwide list every year, in 2008 US dollar values, the combined wealth of the first 40 richest Indians in 2008 was just USD 139 billion dollars, not even two third of the Nizam's wealth! In fact Nizam Osman Ali Khan was the richest Asian / Indian in history and ranked as the fifth richest man in the world in the recorded annals.

Today 62 years after Indian Independence, we have an avalanche of information about the Nizam, collected by research scholars and historians and it is interesting to consider, as to how he got his fame as the richest Asian/Indian in history.

It is interesting to note, that when Mir Osman Ali Khan became the ruler of Hyderabad in 1911, the state treasury was nearly bankrupt, his father Mahbub Ali Pasha being a profligate. But that was only the finances of the Hyderabad state; and the personal wealth of the Nizams accumulated through six generations remained intact.

Osman Ali Khan was the man who had everything. In his 82 years, he ruled a state of 18 million people, bossed a brilliantly uniformed army of 22,000 men, had a stupendous fortune in his sprawling King Kothi palace, of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, pearls and lesser gems are stored in treasure rooms. The meticulous Time news weekly on Feb 22, 1937 published that the total value Nizam's wealth that at the peak of his "earning" period in 1936, to be $2 billion. $5,000 ($ 7,50,000 in 2008 dollar values) was his approximate daily income in 1936, his jewels had an estimated value of $150,000,000, and he had reputedly had salted down $250,000,000 in gold bars and his capital totalled some $1,400,000,000.

Mir Osman Ali Khan, who had been conferred the title of His Exalted Highness by the British ruled over Hyderabad state which at that time sprawled across 2,23,000 square km or the present size of Great Britain and his private estates (jagirs, also called sarf-i-khas land) accounted for a significant 30 per cent of this land mass or he owned nearly as his personal property 75 thousand square kilometers..the size of modern Assam. Further, the most important fact was that he did not have to pay any tax on his vast income.

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Thank you so much for putting up such an informative article.

Now I understand why the British came to India.

Had India been not divided back in 1947, when the British left, I can bet India as whole would have been the world leader.

Thank you once again for the informative article.

: Saleh M Ayub

Where the wealth has gone? Who owns it now? Mr. Koul may through some light.

: Abdul Mannan


  • Friday, July 23, 2010 04:13 AM GMT+06:00 (195 weeks ago)

    It really does not matter how rich anyone was or is. All that counts is what one does with his money. Many want more and more and as the saying goes For the love of money is the root of all evils! Let us not measure riches in terms of assets or money. Let us all learn to share and share alike. I wonder what the late Nizam Osman Ali Khan took to his grave from his worldly possessions!





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