Beyond Colonial Intermediary: A New History of the Princely State of Hyderabad’s Relations with Japan

Title: 1104 | Beyond Colonial Intermediary: A New History of the Princely State of Hyderabad’s Relations with Japan
Area: Border Crossing and Inter-Area
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Yuki Meno, Kokushikan University, Japan (organizer, presenter)
Kazuyo Sakaki, Hokkaido Musashi Women's Junior College, Japan (presenter)
Tariq Sheikh, English and Foreign Languages University, India (presenter)
George Pullattu Abraham, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (chair)
Kensaku Mamiya, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan (discussant)


The history of the interaction between India and Japan in the modern era has almost always been looked at through the lens of British colonialism. Historians have looked at Indian freedom fighters who considered Japan an ally in the struggle against British colonialism, and have studied Indian intellectuals who looked up to Japan as a model Asian country that achieved development without ever being colonised.

However, the interactions between the princely states of India and Japan have largely been overlooked. The largest princely state of India, Hyderabad, although under British suzerainty, was a Hindu majority state ruled by a Muslim ruler which claimed independence during the partition of India in 1947. The rulers of the princely state envisioned a future which would be separate from those of India and Pakistan. In this context, it is interesting to note that officials of the Hyderabad state had close relations with Japanese intellectuals, and that the Hyderabad state took immense interest in following the example of Japan, especially in education policy. On the other hand, the Nizam rulers of Hyderabad visited Japan and took personal interest in collecting Japanese artefacts, most of which are now exhibited in the Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad. This panel, consisting of Indian scholars of Japanese Studies and Japanese Scholars of South Asian Studies, will look into these hitherto unexplored interactions, using approaches varying from intellectual history to maritime history, and explore a new history of India-Japan relations that goes beyond the established paradigm of colonial intermediary.

Panel Abstracts:
Thoughts on the Formative Process of Japonisme in the Princely State of Hyderabad in the Late Nineteenth Century
Japonisme is well known in the field of art history as a vogue for the arts and crafts of Japan in the West, particularly from 1860 to 1910. It is however little known that rulers of the princely states of India also collected Japanese artifacts in the late nineteenth century, showcasing their version of Japonisme. These wealthy rulers seem to have had a liking for Japanese swords, pottery, Buddha statues and Ukiyo-e paintings. One of these rulers is the Nizam of Hyderabad and his great collection can now be seen in the Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad.However, the formative process of this collection is something of an enigma. According to one popular theory, Japonisme usually takes off after an influential exhibition in the country. The first such exhibition held in India was in 1911 in Allahabad. In that case, how is it possible that the Nizam of Hyderabad was already interested in East Asian crafts at around the same time as Western art enthusiasts were, even before the first such exhibition in India? This question has been largely unexplored. Knowledge about East Asian maritime history has progressed considerably in recent years, putting scholars of Asian studies in a position to start exploring issues like this. This presentation will explore and present a hypothetical view of the formative process of Japonisme in the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad in the nineteenth century.

Modernists Struggling for Their Ideal Modernity – Ross Mas‘ūd and Japanese Intellectuals
From the late nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century, Japan received much attention as a modernized Asian country. Japanese selective adoption of Western civilization without denying her cultural heritage was highly appreciated by Asian modernists. Among such modernists, Ross Mas‘ūd, who is one of the Western-educated modern Muslims, brought about public education reforms after the model of Japan, in the Government of Hyderabad. How was this great task achieved? His diary and report on the official trip, which was funded by the Government of Hyderabad, to Japan in 1922 show how he found the adaptive way to promote national education and enlightenment of the nation, and how he observed the peculiarity of Japanese progress through his aesthetic and religious experiences in Japan. Locating the writings of two Japanese intellectuals, Prof. Takakusu Junjiro, a Buddhist scholar-cum-educationist and Marquis Tokugawa Yorisada a musicologist-cum politician, who were struggling for their own ideal of modernity, in the history of Indo-Japan encounter, we examine the shared spirit from a cosmopolitan perspective in the context of modernization.

Language, Education and Nation-Building: The Establishment of the Osmania University and the Japanese Model
While talking about Japan-India relations in the early twentieth century, ‘India’s struggle for independence’, ‘Japan’s imperialist aggression’ and the collaboration between the two based on the idea of ‘Asia for the Asians”, have been the most prominent themes that have been dealt with by scholars. However, studies by Nile Green and Kavita Datla have brought forward interactions between intellectuals of the Princely State of Hyderabad and Japan, trying to destabilize what Green calls “the empire-to-nation teleology”. The Osmania University, which celebrated its centenary year in 2017, was the first university in India to offer courses in an Indian language. The textbooks used in the early years of its establishment, contained a common preface which suggested that Japan served as a model for this decision to use the vernacular, Urdu, as the medium of instruction. Ross Masood, the Director of Public Instruction of the princely state of Hyderabad, was sent to Japan in 1922 to study the education system of Japan and make recommendations for the newly formed Osmania University. Ross Masood, in his report titled “The Education System of Japan”, submitted to the Nizam, declared that the secret of Japan’s progress was “the fact that there it was the Japanese language that was made the medium of instruction from the very beginning”. This presentation will draw on archival documents and try to explore the circumstances that led to the decision of the Hyderabad government to take the Japanese system as the role model

This panel is on Wednesday - Session 04 - Room 3

Go to Room 3