Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/909

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occasion of the visit of the prince of Wales in 1906, is quite the finest in the East. There are two cathedrals, Church of England and Roman Catholic, and a Presbyterian church, besides the cantonment church buildings for worship. Religious buildings and lands, indeed, occupy an area in Rangoon out of all proportion to its size. Buddhists, Hindus, Mussulmans, Parsees, Armenians and Jews all own lands and pagodas, temples, mosques, churches and synagogues. The Buddhist monasteries, in particular, occupy wide spaces in very central portions of the town and cantonments. Burial-grounds are equally extensive, and exist in every direction in what were once the outskirts, but are now fast becoming central parts of the city. The chief educational institutions are the Government Rangoon college, the Baptist college and St John's college (S.P.G.). Besides the general hospital, a female hospital in connexion with the Dufferin Fund has recently been built, and there are hospitals for contagious diseases and for lepers in the suburbs. The staple industries are mills for husking rice and for sawing timber, and petroleum refineries. Carving in wood and ivory, and embossed silver work are also carried on. There are three municipal and eight private markets, which are being improved and extended. Everything, from sacking to jewelry, is sold in them. The introduction of pure water and the establishment of compulsory vaccination have greatly improved the health of Rangoon. But the death-rate is still high, due partly to the swampy nature of the outskirts of the city proper, and still more to the mortality among Hindu immigrants from the Madras presidency. The total rainfall in 1905 was 104-96 in. Rangoon is the headquarters of a brigade in the Burma command of the Southern army. (J. G. SC.)

RANGPUR, or RUNGPORE, a town and district of British India, in the Rajshahi division of Eastern Bengal and Assam. The town is situated on the little river Ghaghat. Pop. (1901) 15,960. There are a high school, a normal school and an industrial school. The earthquake of the 12th of June 1897 destroyed many of the public buildings and diverted the drainage channels.

The Drsrnrcr or RANGPUR, with an area of 3493 sq. m., is one vast plain. The greater part of it, particularly towards the east, is inundated during the rains, and the remainder is traversed by a network of streams which frequently break through their sandy banks and plough for themselves new channels over the fields. The river system is constituted by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, chief of which are the Tista., Dharla, Sankos and Dudhkumar. The climate is generally malarious, owing to the numerous stagnant swamps and marshes filled with decaying vegetable matter. The annual rainfall averages 82 in. About three-fourths of the district is under continuous cultivation. Spare land can hardly be said to exist-even the patches of waste land yield a valuable tribute of reeds and cane. The staple crops are rice, oil-seeds, jute and tobacco. In 1901 the population was 2,1 54,18r, showing an increase of 4.3% in the decade. Nearly two-thirds are Mahommedans. The Eastern Bengal railway has two branches, one of which crosses the district to the Brahmaputra, and the other runs north towards Assam.

The tract comprised within the district of Rangpur was formerly the western outpost of the ancient Hindu kingdom of Kamrup, which appears to have attained its greatest power and prosperity under Raja Nilambar, who was treacherously overthrown by Ala-uddin Hosain of Bengal at the close of the 15th century. Rangpur passed to the East India Company in 1765 under the firman of the emperor Shah Alam. Since then a great number of changes have taken place in the jurisdiction, in consequence of which the district area has been much diminished.

RANJIT SINGH, MAHARAJA (1780-1839), native Indian ruler, was born on the 2nd of November 1780, the son of Sirdar Mahan Singh, whom he succeeded in 1792 as head of the Sukarchakia branch of the Sikh Confederacy. By birth he was only one of many Sikh barons and owed his rapid rise entirely to force of character and will. At the age of seventeen he seized the reins of government. He is said to have poisoned his mother, though it is more probable that he merely imprisoned her to keep her out of his way. At the age of twenty he obtained from Zaman Shah, the king of Afghanistan, a grant of Lahore, which he seized by force of arms in 1799. Subsequently he attacked and annexed Amritsar in 1802, thus becoming master of the two Sikh capitals. When Taswant Rao Holkar took refuge in the Punjab in ISOS, Ranjit Singh made a treaty with the British, excluding Holkar from his territory. Shortly afterwards acute difficulties arose between him and the British as to the Cis-Sutlej portion of the Punjab. It was Ranjit Singh's ambition to weld the whole of the Punjab into a single Sikh empire, while the British claimed the territory south of the Sutlej by right' of conquest from the Mahrattas. The difference proceeded almost to the point of war; but at the last moment Ranjit Singh gave way, and for the future faithfully observed his engagements with the British, whose rising power he was wise enough to gauge. In 1808 Charles Metcalfe was sent to settle this question' with Ranjit Singh, and a treaty was concluded at Amritsar on the I5tl1 of April 1809. At this period a band of Sikh fanatics called “ akalis, " attacked Sir Charles Metcalfe's escort, and the steadiness with which the disciplined sepoys repulsed them, so impressed the maharaja that he decided to change the strength of his army from cavalry to infantry. He organized a powerful force, which was trained by French and Italian officers such as Generals Ventura, Allard and Avitabile, and thus forged the formidable fighting instrument of the Khalsa army, which afterwards gave the British their hardest battles in India in the two Sikh wars. In 1810 he captured Multan after many assaults and a long siege, and in 1820 had consolidated the whole of the Punjab between the Sutlej and the Indus under his dominion. In 1823 the city and province of Peshawar became tributary to him. In 1833 when Shah Shuja, flying from Afghanistan, sought refuge at his court, he took from him the Koh-i-nor diamond, which subsequently came into the possession of the British crown. Though he disapproved of Lord Auckland's policy of substituting Shah Shuja for Dost Mahomed, he loyally supported the British in their advance on Afghanistan. Known as “ The Lion of the Punjab, ” Ranjit Singh died of paralysis on the 27th of June 1839.

In his private life Ranjit Singh was selfish, avaricious, drunken and immoral, but he had a genius for command and was the only man the Sikhs ever produced strong enough to bind them together. His military genius showed itself not so much in actual generalship as in the organization of his plans, the selection of his generals and his ministers, the tenacity of his purpose and the soundness of his judgment. The British were the one power in India that was too strong for him, and as soon as he realized that fact he was unwaveringly loyal to his engagements with them. His power was military aristocracy resting on the personal qualities of its founder, and after his death the Sikh confederacy gradually crumbled and fell to pieces through sheer want of leadership; and the rule of the Sikhs in the Punjab passed away completely as soon as it incurred the hostility of the British.

See Sir Lepel Griffin, Ranjit Singh (Rulers of India. Series), 1892; General Sir John Gordon, The Sikhs, 1904; and S. S. Thorburn, The Punjab in Peace and War, 1904.

RANK (O.Fr. ranc or renc, mod. with the O.E. and O.H.G. hring, a cabs or carriages, but especially of in a line; in “ rank and file ” the rang, generally connected ring), airow or line, as of soldiers drawn up abreast “ rank ” is the horizontal line of soldiers, the “ file ” the vertical. From the sense of orderly arrangement “ rank ” is applied to grades or classes in a social or other organization, and particularly to a high grade, as in such expressions as a “person of rank.” This word must be distinguished from the adjective “ rank, ” over luxuriant, coarse, strong, generally connected with the Low Ger. rank, thin, tall (cf. Du. rank, upright). The O.E. rinc, warrior, 1I.e. full-grown man, may be also connected with the word;' Skeat refers also to “ rack, ” to pull out straight.