Born into the Muslim Sulaymani Bohra community, Akbar Hydari was the son of a businessman and nephew on his mother’s side of the lawyer and early Congress leader Badruddin Tyabji. He was educated at St Xavier’s College, and graduated from Bombay University aged just 17. He joined the Indian Finance Department in 1888, and via a series of postings across India, rose to be appointed Comptroller of India Treasuries in 1903. In 1905 he began a long association with Hyderabad State, first as Accountant-General, from 1911 as Home Secretary in the Judicial, Police and General Departments, and from 1921 as Finance Member of the State Executive Council.
Hydari represented Hyderabad within the Indian States delegation at the conference.
For additional biographical information, see the official delegate Who's Whos. See also Emery Kelen's caricature, from his portfolio of delegates at the Round Table Conference.
- 3rd February 1930: Haksar wooed Hydari, convincing him to send an observer to the Chamber of Princes, and encouraging him to believe that British Indians could support the Princes’ demands. (Copland, 1997:74-5)
- July 1930 Hydari approached Irwin to make sure Hydarabad would be represented in any Indian States Delegation to London. (Copland, 1997:84)
- July 1930: Sir Terence Keyes, British resident at Hyderabad, had decided federation was the best way for the British to neutralise the political problem of India. (Copland, 1997:84)
- July 1930: at the Simla summit Hydari backed away from federation plans, unnerved by Congress opposition and the British crack down IC86. But during the journey on the SS Narkunda to Europe, Hydari had a change of heart… (Copland, 1997:86)
- “… in retrospect it can fairly be said that Hydari’s conversation on the sea-road to Aden marked the moment when al-India federation became practical politics.” (Copland, 1997:87)
- The Government of India finance minister, Sir George Schuster, used the ship journey to London to sound out the views of Hydari, who showed that his plans to propose a federation of princely and British India were far more advanced than the Government of India suspected. On docking at Aden, Schuster telephoned the viceroy, who asked for something written from Hydari and for reports from Schuster, one of which he posted from Aden, and the second from London. (Legg, 2020)
- Schuster noted that Hydari’s federal assembly would be small, giving the Princes and the Crown due weight, the only way to ensure Princely support, who feared a centre taken over by democratic/nationalist politicians. (Moore, 1974:138)
- 26th September 1930: Delegate EC Benthall commented in his diary: “The Hyderabad contingent is on board; one delegate, Sir Akbar Hydari and 20 assistants! Sir A.H. is a fancy little man with a small beard, always seeking for information: very clever I should think but wants watching.” (Legg, 2020)
- 12th January 1931: On his return journey to India his diary entry mentioned: “I met little Hydari again not having seen him for some two or three weeks, and Trench pointed out to what a singular extent the principles which he had communicated on the voyage home [that is, to London] had been accepted by the Conference. Looking back this is so, and Hydari was good enough to say that he had been strengthened in his persistence by the support of his fellow passengers! I mention this because it takes us back a long way as things have moved and it must be clearly understood that any question of responsibility is of course obviously dependent upon the State coming into Federation on Hydari’s lines.”
- October: in London Haksar, Hydari and Mirza Ismail had different conceptions of what federation should result re: the size of federal legislation; uni or bi-cameral legislation; and whether the princes could vote on legislation not concerning their states. (Copland, 1997:87-88)
- November 2nd 1930: the Indian States Delegation appointed a committee to consider their attitude towards federation, which Hydari chaired. A report on November 6th recommended a federal structure for joint control with British India over matters of common concern. Each Indian State would be free to accede or abstain. (Moore, 1974:142)
- November 10th 1930: Hydari was invited by Benn to join an Agenda Committee, alongside Haksar, Bikaner and Alwar. (Moore, 1974:142)
- 17th November 1930: Hydari joined the Federal Structure Committee.
- 13th December 1930: The Times announced that Hydari would be reading a paper at the Caxton Hall in Westminster entitled “Hyderabad Today”, with the Marquess of Zetland chairing the presentation and the Maharaja of Bikaner opening the discussion.
- 15th January 1931: the Federal Structure Committee produced its second report. If favoured a bicameral federal legislature with British Indian and Indian States representatives in both houses; to this extent following Hydari’s more than Haksar’s scheme, although the administrative unity of British India was to be kept in tact, creating a strong federal centre (this was Sapru’s vision, more than that of Muslim or Princely delates). (Moore, 1874:151)
- 21st January 1931: a dinner was hosted by the Hyderabad Delegation at the Savoy, with Hydari offering toasts to HM the King-Emperor and the Prime Minister and his Government, and with the Prime Minister raising a toast to HEH the Nizam of Hyderabad. (National Archives PRO.30.69.1528)
- 11th February 1931: Hydari wrote to Sankey with his advice regarding what the British government should do while the conference adjourned. He insisted that it should not convene in India, but that committees should continue to draft and develop the work of the conference.
- 11th May 1931: Hydari concerned at plans for a strong federal centre, working for a strong decentralisation. (Moore, 1974:225)
- 20th May 1931: Hydari and Mirza Ismail agreed upon five safeguards for Indian States within federation
- That the units of the federation be the provinces and the Indian States
- For federal subjects to be limited
- For no interference by federal authority beyond federal subjects
- For the States to select their own federal representatives
- For the Crown to secure treaty rights (Moore, 1974:226)
- After communal deadlock the Princes began to make difficult demands for federating, including Hydari’s insistence that Hyderabad regain its former territory of Berar and started reasserting the suggestion of a unicameral scheme. (Bridge, 1986:77)
- 14th October 1931: in his diary Sankey noted of discussions regarding federal finance that “Sir Akbar Hydari of Hyderabad very aggressive & intransigent.” (University of Oxford C538)
- 24th October 1932: Hydari’s brief from the Nizam that nothing could be done to impair the supremacy of the British Crown in India, which would maintain its treaty obligations. He campaigned hard at the conference for small federal chambers. (Moore 1974:285)
- 1933: Head of Hyderabad Delegation to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform
- 1934–41: Chairman, Committee of Indian States Ministers
- 1935: Vice-Chancellor, Osmania University, Hyderabad
- 1936: President, External Relations Committee, Constitutional Reforms Secretariat, Hyderabad
- 1937–41: President of Hyderabad State Executive Council
- 1941-42: Member for Information and Broadcasting, Governor-General’s Executive Council, India
- Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi: Dr BS Moonje papers.
- The National Archives, Kew: PRO/30/69/1528
- University of Oxford, Bodleian Library: Papers of John Sankey, Viscount Sankey of Moreton/C538; C285
- Ian Copland, The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917-1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1997)
- R.J. Moore, The Crisis of Indian Unity, 1917-1940 (Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1974)
- Stephen Legg, "Political Lives at Sea: Working and Socialising to and from the India Round Table Conference in London, 1930–1932." Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 68 (2020), pp. 21-32: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhg.2019.12.005
- Akbar Hydari, “A Mahomedan University for India”, East and West (Bombay) (Aug 1904), pp. 765–773