The University was first set up in 1917, under the rule of Nizam Osman Ali Khan.

From its inception to the struggle for Telangana History of Osmania University as it turns 100Image: Wikimedia Commons/N Subbaiah
news History Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 13:58

The year was 1917, and Sir Akbar Hydari, who was then the Home Secretary to the Hyderabad State Government under Nizam Osman Ali Khan, submitted a memorandum to the then Education Minister of the state.

The memorandum emphasised the need to establish a University in Hyderabad, with 'Urdu' as the medium of instruction "as it is the language of the widest currency in India, official language of the State, and it is a language which is understood by a vast majority of the population of the State."

The memorandum had come at a time when several people, especially intellectuals, were thinking about ways to cater to the interest for higher education, which had grown in the state.

Taking the memorandum into consideration, the Nizam issued a 'firman', or order, on April 26, 1917, to establish a university in Hyderabad.

A 100 years later, the Osmania University in Hyderabad is all set to host its centenary celebrations.

Starting on April 26, the celebrations will last till April 28, and will also see President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurate the event as Chief Guest.

Other guests include Telangana and Andhra Governor ESL Narasimhan, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya and GHMC Mayor Dr Bonthu Rammohan among others.


The University itself was named after Nizam Osman Ali Khan.

According to the University's own records, the establishment of Osmania University "symbolized a renaissance in the Indian educational system," as it was an experiment that decided to use a regional language in higher education.

"It was a revolt against the supremacy of the foreign language in India," the University noted. Students were still taught English as a subject.

By 1934, the university was offering Under-Graduate courses as well as Post-Graduate courses in subjects like Zoology, Botany, Law, Engineering and Medicine.

The year 1938 was a turning point for the University, as most colleges were scattered around the city, due to a lack of infrastructure.

It was during this year, that the present campus was inaugurated, along with the iconic Arts College building, which has since become synonymous with the institution.

The first big changes

In 1948, as Hyderabad State joined the Indian Union, the University also witnessed some massive changes.

Urdu was replaced by English as the medium of instruction, and several new courses like Political Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Journalism, Public Administration, Statistic, Genetics and Geophysics among others, were introduced.

Even language courses like Hindi, French, German and Italian were introduced. By this time, the University was providing full-fledged PhD courses.

According to the University's records, there were about 45,000 students, including 7,500 women, studying in 48 different constituent and affiliated colleges by 1967.

Famous alumni

By 1993, seventy five years after it was established, it had become one of the most recognised universities in the country, with several notable alumni like former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and Astronaut Rakesh Sharma, besides several Chief Ministers, Governors, Sports persons and other eminent personalities.

In fact, even Telangana Chief Minister KCR is an alumnus of the university.

Telangana movement

The entire 'struggle for separate statehood' by leaders of the Telangana movement would largely not have been possible, if it was not for the students at the Osmania University.

During the years that led up to the bifurcation of the state, the entire university turned into a war zone as students at the campus led the protests.

Prohibitory orders, lathi charges, tear gas and rubber bullets were a common occurrence on the campus, but could still not deter the students.

The police were perpetually present on campus, decked in full riot gear, and armed.

Several students even committed suicide on the campus for the cause, by hanging themselves from trees, and even attempting self-immolation.

In fact, even when KCR broke his 'fast for Telangana' in 2009, it was miffed OU students who warned politicians of playing with their feelings, and took the movement forward.

“No one can deny the students’ struggle for this movement. But the entire credit can’t be given to just us, but also those student leaders who paved the way for the movement right from 1957,” a leader had said, shortly after the announcement of Telangana.

Since 2014, when Telangana was granted, the University has remained largely peaceful, and has continued to be a place of learning.

A timeline of all major achievements of the University, can be found here.

Presently, the campus has been spruced up for the centenary celebrations.

“We have installed 150 surveillance cameras which will be monitored both at the police station as well as the temporary facility. Within the hangar, there are 60 cameras, and outside there are seven cameras,” an official told The Hindu.


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