Ranjit Kumar (6th Aug 1912-1st Sep 1982)
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Ranjit Kumar was born on August 6th 1912 in Rawalpindi, India. At age eight he migrated to England where he attended Holborn Grammar School. His excellent school grades allowed him a rapid progression through the school system. At age 15 he passed the London Matriculation and the Higher School Certificate examinations. He gained his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from London University’s Imperial College of Science at age 18.
Unable to find employment because of colour prejudice, Kumar returned to India. He wrote the Indian Imperial Police Entrance Examination and placed at the top of the list. In 1931 he joined the service and was soon promoted to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police and received training in law. By his early twenties, he was in charge of security in the Punjab Legislative Council.
In 1935, Kumar ventured to Trinidad as the distributor of the first Indian film to be shown locally. Two years later he was employed as Assistant Engineer with the Works Department. Among his first responsibilities was the Wrightson Road Project. Though the prospect of building a road under swampy conditions was considered to be impossible, he planned, designed and constructed the dual carriageway in 1940.
He also designed irrigation and drainage systems for flood-prone Port of Spain, Laventille and El Socorro. He worked on the Morvant Housing Project, widened the Eastern Main Road and constructed footpaths. Other notable projects included the site works for Federation Chemicals Limited and the Hilton Hotel.
Through the Challenger newspaper, he popularised engineering and educated the public on irrigation, flooding and technologies to alleviate physical and environmental problems. He served as an elected Alderman in the Port of Spain City Council and is remembered for his habit of riding a white horse to meet with the people.
Kumar was dedicated to his family and had a great love for mathematics. He also had a keen interest in astronomy and history. An avid reader, he encouraged everyone around him to follow world developments and to think globally.
In 1950, Ranjit Kumar Street in St. James was named in his honour. He died at age 70 on September 1st 1982.