Farce of a royal pension

The pensions are anachronistic and extremely meagre in this day and age

 The descendants of the nawabs of the Awadh have been demanding an increase in their ‘wasika’ (royal pension) paid to them by the Indian Government as payment of interest on the loans given to the former East India Company by then kings and nawabs of Awadh. Currently over 30,000 descendants of King Mohammad Ali Shah, Nawab Asif-ul-Daula and Bahu Begum, mother of the King, have been receiving the royal pension. “Although for many of us the amount of wasika does not matter but only that of prestige, it is certainly humiliating'', Nawab Zafar Mir Abdullah, a descendant of King Mohammad Ali Shah told Deccan Herald here.

Some of the descendants have settled abroad and come all the way from places like the UK and the US only to receive their wasika which could be as meagre as Rs five only.

“Earlier we used to get the pension in the form of the silver coins but now it is paid in currency notes that has a much lower value than the silver coins”, he said.

Another descendant of the Royals of Awadh Begum Naseema Raza said that she gets Rs 121 as annual pension. “This money in the form of silver coins will be much more than when given in the form of currency”, she said.

Vice-chairman of the Royal Family of Awadi's Advisory Board Syed Masoom Raza, a descendant of the nawabs of awadh also echoes similar sentiments. “There are people who get as low as Rs. five in the form of pension”, he adds.

Raza demanded that the minimum amount of pension must be increased to Rs. 3000, at least. Abdullah said that the nawabs and kings of Awadh had helped the former East India Company when the latter had gone bankrupt and badly needed money. “It is not that the government is giving us alms”, he said.

“King Mohammad Ali Shah had loaned Rs. two crore to the East India Company while the latter was at war and needed money”, he claimed adding that “on many occasions, loans were given in the form of gold and silver also”. The descendants however see a light of hope in the recent judgement of the Supreme Court by which it has substantially increased the pension of descendants of the nawabs of Tonk in Rajasthan. Whether the amount of pension is increased or not the descendants candidly admit that it was more an honour than anything else. “Many of us do not even need any help...we are only fighting for the hike so that it may not look humiliating”, they say.

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