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The New York Times, August 8, 1875, p.3:

The Guns of Burrisaul.

    The Delta of the Ganges, within the extent where the influence of the tides is felt, is covered with a dense jungle of such trees as are peculiar to salt marshes, and is called the Sunderbunds, which name is a corruption of vernacular words, meaning the beautiful forest.

    Beautiful indeed, it can only be called in virtue of the luxuriance of the vegetation, for the trees are stunted and comparatively insignificant, consisting of such growths as the mangrove, standing, as it were, on stilts in the mud; the sonneratia, akin to the purple loosestrife of our ditches, too big, however, to be called even a shrub; the æicera, heritiera, &c. But the swamp is fertile in giant grasses and reed maces, and the water courses are fringed with the curious screw pine, Nipa fruticans, while large tracts are covered with the marsh phœnix, an elegant dwarf palm some six or eight feet high.

    Such regions, it may be supposed, are not healthy, but the vegetation in a large measure depends on the character of the tides, and therefore it is in the western parts of the Delta, where the rise and fall are not great, and the influx of fresh water inconsiderable, that the jungle is thickest. It decreases to the eastward, and near the mouth of the Megna, where the bay is nearly fresh, the muddy shores are, for the most part, devoid of vegetation.

    One of the stations in the Sunderbunds is called Burrisaul [Barisal], and this place has given its name to certain singular sounds which are heard in that region in the rainy season, and are called the "Guns of Burrisaul." There is no special propriety in the phenomenon being connected with Burrisaul, for the noise is heard at Backergunj and surrounding places, and even at Dacca.
    It is described as being like "the loud, sudden boom of a heavy gun." The discharges vary in frequency and are heard generally at night, or, it may be, are more noticed at night, and there are the following peculiarities about them:

    1. They are only heard during the rainy season.
    2. They proceed from the south, and are heard 100 miles inland.
    3. They seem to come still from the south, even on the sea coast, and are not materially louder there than at Dacca.

    It may be supposed that, by imaginative Eastern races, these strange sounds are associated with their superstitions, and are interpreted by such a hypothesis as their different faiths would be likely to suggest. Now, it is well known that, with Mohammedans, the second coming of the Imam Mehdee, who mysteriously disappeared in the third century of the Hegira, is looked upon in the same light in which some among us regard the so-called Millenium; there is to be a personal reign of the Imam, and the saints are to triumph over all infidels.
    So, in the mysterious night-guns, the rude Mussulman of the Sunderbunds hears the last battle already begun, and imagines that the Imam is in full conflict with his enemies. But the discharges have continued from generation to generation, and all things continue as at the first, and still the coming lingers.

    The Hindoo, on the other hand, who associates the idea of the south with the exploits of the hero Ram, conceives the sound to proceed from the island of Lunka or Ceylon, and to be caused by the grating hinges of the palace gate of Rayan.

    The Mugs, a quiet race living along the coast, are disposed to believe that there is a large rocky island in the Bay of Bengal, hollowed out with caves and caverns into which the waves of the sea are constantly tumbling. But this conjecture, like some other scientific conjectures of the day, postulates that which stands most in need of proof--the existence of the island.

    It is rather singular that, with a Government that has never shown itself indifferent to cognate inquiries, this curious phenomenon has not as yet received adequate attention. The theories which have been broached on the subject by Europeans are scarcely more tenable than the explanations offered by native credulity.
    One idea is that the sound is caused by the falling of the river-banks under the constant wash of water. This can only have been suggested by the fact that the slipping of banks does make a noise like the boom of a gun; such explosions may often be heard in the neighborhood of the Ganges or Jumma up country, during the rains.
    But the simple circumstances that no such breaking up of banks occurs in the Sunderbunds, and that, if it did, the noise caused by it could not always proceed from one direction, and be heard at such a distance, disposes of that hypothesis.

    Nor is the explanation more happy that refers the sound to the breaking of waves on the coast; first, because the sound is not that of waves; next, because on the coast the sound still proceeds from the south; lastly, because no waves could be heard at a distance of 100 miles.

    The facts of the case seem to point to an atmospheric origin of the phenomenon, and that is about as far, in the present knowledge of details, as theory can go. Those who have heard it say the noise would certainly be put down as thunder, if the boom were not so sharply and definitely given, and if the absence of a subsequent roil were not so marked. And even on this point an acute ear has its own account to give, for the Commissioner of Dacca, writing only last year, says: "It happened to me to be awake the greater part of a night lately, when the reports were unusually frequent, and after very attentive listening for a long time, I could sometimes catch the faintest sound of a rumble succeeding the shot, which induced me to conclude that the reports are caused by the meeting of thunder clouds at a high elevation from the earth's surface."

    We have made use of a report by Mr. Knox Wigat, which, if a little wild when regarded from a scientific point of view, is still able and interesting. This gentleman was commissioned to examine the sea-coast localities, with the object of selecting a site for a marine sanitarium in connection with Burrisaul, and in his report he has given many particulars of the local phenomenon. Perhaps if he were associated with a person of scientific training, between them they might arrive at a satisfactory solution of the mystery.
    But, explained or unexplained, so surely as July comes round, far out in the tropic Sunderbunds, through the long darkness, in bushes of the splashing rain, and amid the hum of myriads of insects, to wakeful and feverish ears throb the strange discharges of this mysterious artillery; or startled sleepers sink back relieved, exclaiming, "Tis but the guns of Burrisaul!"
- All the Year Round.

The New York Times, January 20, 1907:

THE BRITISH IN INDIA

    Readers of The London Times found in it the other day a dispatch from Dacca, under the date of Dec. 31, relating the proceedings of the "All-India Mohammedan Educational Conference," which had concluded its labors the day before. The resolutions of the Conference are worth quoting:

    Resolved. That this meeting, composed of Mussulmans from all parts of India, assembled at Dacca, decides that a political association be formed styled the All-India Moslem League, for the furtherance of the following objects:

    A. To promote among the Mussulmans of India feelings of loyalty to the British Government, and to remove any misconception that may arise as to the intention of the Government in regard to any of its measures.

     B. To protect and advance the political rights of the Mussulmans of India, and respectfully to represent their needs and aspirations to the Government.

    C. To prevent the rise among the Mussulmans of India of any feelings of hostility toward other communities, without prejudice to the other objects of the League.

    These resolutions will not of themselves say much to the ordinary American newspaper reader. But there is a long story behind them. It is not at all likely that there would have been either any All-India Mohammedan Educational Conference or any All-India Moslem League, if the initiative had not been taken by the other nationalities and tribes which constitute the native population of British India. It is partly on account of the diversity of races and languages and religions that Great Britain has managed to rule British India, and upon the whole, peacefully for a century and more with a British garrison of, say, one tenth of 1 per cent. of the native population.

    It may look like statesmanship on the part of the British that the races and religions have been so successfully played off against one another. But in fact the natural opposition among the subject races rendered necessary only the very low degree of statesmanship involved in not wantonly and unintentionally affronting the susceptibilities of potential insurgents.

    Even that moderate degree of policy has sometimes been wanting, most famously in the case of the British requirement that native troops should bite cartridges greased with animal fat. We all know what was the result of that seemingly innocuous "regulation." At any rate, it is true that the British hold their sway mainly by the impossibility of securing uniformity of action among the native races. If the British should evacuate India tomorrow, it is not questioned that internecine war of races would at once break out.

    Neither is it seriously questioned that that the Mohammedans would succeed the British as the masters of the peninsula, not because they are the most numerous, for they are far from being so--the Hindus outnumber them by something like three to one--but simply because the Mohammedans are the fighting race. To use a familiar illustration, they are the Japanese and the Hindus the Chinese of the peninsula. "The wolf does not count the sheep."

    The facts are so well known to the British Government that the strange thing about the dispatch we have quoted is that the Mohammedans should take the trouble to form Conferences or Leagues at all, in their cheerful confidence that they can at any time defeat the other subject races in India, no matter what the numerical disparity. The explanation is, doubtless, that the Conference and the League are intended for effect on British, that is to say insular, opinion. The "sheep" have been busy for many years in endeavoring to influence that opinion. The "wolves" seem now to see an occasion for "getting busy" on their own account.

    In 1893 Dadabhai Naoroji, the son of a Parsee priest, was elected to the House of Commons for Finsbury, of course as a Liberal. This recognition of a very exceptional native as worthy to sit in the "Imperial Parliament" greatly cheered his fellows at home. The Babu class at once swelled with pride and hope. Mild-eyed Swamis began to appear at philosophical tea parties in London, as for that matter they have since appeared at like assemblages in New York, to talk sweetly about things in general, and to make soft-hearted women say what a shame it was that such nice and pleasant-spoken philosophers should not be able to obtain for their race the "right" of self-government.

    They even found one Viceroy of India to agree with them and to put the college-bred Hindu, who had proved his aptitude for government by competitive examinations, in charge of the simple Mohammedan, who was merely a fighting man and entirely confident of his ability to "lick" any reasonable or unreasonable number of those whom he regarded as his natural inferiors. All of which may be read at great length in such documents as Mr. Kipling's "Head of the District" and "One View of the Question," to which the attention of the British legislator may confidently be commended.
    See also: Pakistan News - India News - Myanmar News - Sri Lanka News

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  Bangladesh News



    People's Republic of Bangladesh: Europeans began to set up trading posts in the area of Bangladesh in the 16th century; eventually the British came to dominate the region and it became part of British India.

    In 1947, West Pakistan and East Bengal (both primarily Muslim) separated from India (largely Hindu) and jointly became the new country of Pakistan. East Bengal became East Pakistan in 1955, but the awkward arrangement of a two-part country with its territorial units separated by 1,600 km left the Bengalis marginalized and dissatisfied.
    Bangladesh came into existence in 1971 when Bengali East Pakistan seceded from its union with West Pakistan.

    About a third of this extremely poor country floods annually during the monsoon rainy season, hampering economic development... Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and ill-governed nation.
    Although half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product. Major impediments to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities, a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources (natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms.

    Economic reform is stalled in many instances by political infighting and corruption at all levels of government. Progress also has been blocked by opposition from the bureaucracy, public sector unions, and other vested interest groups.
    The BNP government, led by Prime Minister Khaleda ZIA, had the parliamentary strength to push through needed reforms, but the party's political will to do so was lacking in key areas...
    CIA World Factbook: Bangladesh


Area of Bangladesh: 144,000 sq km
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Population of Bangladesh: 153,546,896
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Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679 Bowrey
Topography & Statistics of Dacca Taylor 1840
Early Records of British India Wheeler 1878
The Cyclopædia of India Balfour 1885
Imperial Gazetteer of India Hunter 1908

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The Guns of Barisal &
    Anomalous Sound Propogation


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    There is, at any rate, a very active propoganda among the "subject races" of the British which, with the withdrawal of the British, might be expected to become the "subject races" of the Mohammedans, for the extension of "local self-government," amounting to some measure of autonomy to the educated natives of India who have attained the level of European culture in passing literary examinations. The same Parsee whose election to the House of Commons we began by noting has lately been presiding over the "National Congress" at Calcutta and pointing out that the Hindu and the Bengali was deprived of his "constitutional rights." He particularly complained that the lately rebellious burghers of the Transvaal had obtained a grant of liberties and privileges such as had not yet been extended to those mild-eyed, lotus-eating and peaceable subjects of the empire.

    Evidently the Mohammedan propaganda begun at Dacca is a counterpropaganda to what may fairly be called the anti-Mohammedan propaganda, carried on for many years and signalized by the Congress at Calcutta. The British Government should take notice, and should take notice that this is by no means one of the subjects that can be settled by a count of heads. When the Bengali, like the Transvaal burgher, shows himself, on his own heath, the fighting equal of the Briton, he will urge his claims to autonomy with much more plausibility than at present.

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