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Sikander Jah -III

Mir Akbar Au Khan Sikander Jah was born on 11th November 1768. After the death of Nizam Au Khan he became the Subedar of the Deccan on 1 lth,August 1803. The succession of Sikander Jah was ratified by the Emperor Shah Alam II and he also conferred all his father’s titles on Sikander Jah. The Governor General presented agreements and treaties which were entered into during the time of his father to Sikander Jah. On 15th December, 1803 Nawab Sikander Jah concluded a fresh treaty confirming the existing treaties. In 1804 an article was added to the treaty concluded in 1800 by which it was mutually agreed that in times of war all forts and territories belonging to the allies would be available to the armies of the allies and officers of the allies would help in the wars. As a result of the victory in the second Maratha war, Sikander Jah gained territories between the Ajanta Hills and River Godavari and also the districts ceded by the Raja of Nagpur west of the Wardha river.

This included the whole of Berar. On 9th May, 1804 Minister Arastu Jah passed away after serving the State for 30 years and Raja Rajindra took over as the Minister, in 1804 Mir Alam was appointed as the Minister on the recommendation of the British. Raja Chandulal was appointed as Assistant to Mir Alam, with the responsibility of improving the finances, of the Dominion. Mir Alam maintained amicable relations between the Nizam and the British but he died in 1808 after serving for four years. Sikander Jah wanted to appoint Munir-ul-Mulk, son-in-law of Mir Alam, as Diwan but the British disapproved the choice. However a compromise was reached and Muniru l-Mulk was ultimately made the Diwan but with limited powers.

Raja Chandulal was the favourite of the British and he was made the Peshkar with real powers. This arrangement continued till the death of Munir-ulM ulk in 1832. His Highness was not very happy with the administration of Raja Chandulal and wanted to replace him but the Governor General intervened and said that the removal of Raja Chandulal would result in strained relations between the Nizam and the British. British influence in the appointment of ministers brought about chaos in the administration and led to a feeling of estrangement between the Nizam and the British. In 1812, Henry RusseLL, with full support and consent of Raja Chandulal, raised an army in a locality known as Gunfoundry. This army was commanded by British officers and started with two thousand soldiers. In six years the strength was raised to seven thousand soldiers. it was known as Russell Brigade after Henry Russell who was the Resident (18 11- 1820). Subsequently this army became a Contingent and in course of time drained the Nizam’s finances resulting in a financial crisis.

This financial crisis lasted throughout Raja Chandulal’s administration for about 32 years. Raja Chandulal adopted corrupt means in order to maintain himself in office. There was no treaty or agreement between the Nizam and the British for the maintenance of the Contingent. It was by an understanding between Henry Russell and Raja Chandulal. It was the Nizam’s Contingent only in name; for all practical purposes it was the British Contingent maintained by the Nizam. To overcome the financial crisis Raja Chandulal borrowed in 1816 Rs. 36 lakh from a private banking house known as William Palmer & Company at 25% interest. The owners of this company were the sons of General Palmer and Lala Banki, the latter one of the partners of the firm. Palmer & Company was also trading in timber and cotton.

In 1823 His Highness’s Government owed Rs. 78 lakh to William Palmer & Company and Rs. 28 lakh to the Companies Government. Later from the accounts of the company it was discovered that the Nizam’s Government was exploited by Palmer & Company which was in alliance with Raja Chandulal. From 1820-1825 Sir Charles Metcalfe was the Resident and he informed his Government that the Contingent was not necessary and the Nizam was not deriving any benefit from the Contingent. He was surprised to note that the Residency officers were involved in the financial dealings between the Nizam and Palmer & Company.

Therefore to overcome this financial crisis Sir Charles Metcalfe recommended to his Government to pay one crore seven lakh rupees to Palmer & Company on behalf of the Nizam. A treaty was signed. The debts of Palmer & Company were settled and the Nizam lost a large territory in lieu of the payment. The Nizam waived the Peshkash (tribute) of Rs. 7 lakh per annum, which the company was paying on account of Northern Circars. Expenses of the army remained unchanged and finally it came to be known as the “Hyderabad Contingent”. Metcalfe made the following comments on the Contingent: “The existence of a force paid by a native state but commanded by our officers and entirely under our control, is undoubtedly a great political advantage. It is an accession to our military strength at the expense of another power and without cost to us; an accession of military strength in an empire where military strength is everything.

The advantage is immense, but I cannot say that I think the arrangement is a just one towards the native state. The same circumstances which make it so advantageous to us make it unjust to the state at whose expense it is paid.” The death of his favourite daughter in 1826 gave Sikander Jah a great shock that slowly led to his death on Thursday 21st May, 1829. He was buried in the Royal cemetery of Mecca Masjid. He was survived by 9 sons and 10 daughters. His eldest son, Nawab Farkhunda Ali Khan, succeeded him. Secunderabad was named after Sikander Jab.

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