Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The General, the Colonel and the Babbler



The Large Grey Babbler  is a bird which is present in large numbers in Mhow and other parts of Indore district. The taxonomic name of this common bird is Turdoides malcolmi. It was named by by Colonel W H Sykes (1790 - 1872)  in appreciation of support that he received from Major-General Sir John Malcolm  (1769–1833).

Colonel William Henry Sykes was an Indian Army officer, politician and ornithologist. He served in the army of the Bombay Presidency from 1804 to 1837. Major  General Sir John Malcolm is the man who founded Mhow cantonment in 1818 as a result of the Treaty of Mandsaur which was signed after the Holkars of Indore were defeated by the East India Co. at the Battle of Mahidpur (one of the decisive battles of the Third Anglo-Maratha war).

A retired  Army officer to whom I sent this tale  to had this to say, "Honouring a General by naming a babbler after him! I wonder whether the Colonel was paying the General a back handed compliment !"  

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