Harvard Scientist Debunks Hindu Nationalists "Racial Purity" Myth
Male ancestors of the vast majority of present-day South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) came from West Eurasia, Central Asia and Iran, according to the latest DNA research led by Harvard geneticist Dr. David Reich. Reich's team came to this conclusion after studying the Y-chromosomes of present-day Indians. Some Hindu Indian scientists have used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) samples, extracted from the bones of recently discovered ancient skeletal remains of a couple in Rakigarhi in Haryana, to claim the local indigenous origins of all Hindus. Y-chromosomes are passed from father to son while mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to children. The Harvard team's findings thoroughly debunk Hindu Nationalists' "racial purity" myth similar to that promoted by White Supremacist racists in the West. Reich writes: "The Hindutva ideology that there was no major contribution to Indian culture from migrants from outside South Asia is undermined by the fact that approximately half of the ancestry of Indians today is derived from multiple waves of mass migration from Iran and the Eurasian steppe within the last five thousand years".
|David Reich's "Who We Are"|
Reich's Indian counterparts were highly resistant to the Harvard team findings of foreign origins of modern-day South Asians. Here's an excerpt from David Reich's "Who We Are and How We Got Here":
"Based on their own mitochondrial DNA studies, it was clear to them (Indians) that the great majority of mitochondrial DNA lineages present in India today had resided in the subcontinent for many tens of thousands of years.They did not want to be part of a study that suggested a major West Eurasian incursion into India without being absolutely certain as to how the whole-genome data could be reconciled with their mitochondrial DNA findings. They also implied that the suggestion of a migration from West Eurasia would be politically explosive. They did not explicitly say this, but it had obvious overtones of the idea that migration from outside India had a transformative effect on the (South Asian) subcontinent".
"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."
"Groups of traditionally higher social status in the Indian caste system typically have a higher proportion of ANI ancestry than those of traditionally lower social status, even within the same state of India where everyone speaks the same language. For example, Brahmins, the priestly caste, tend to have more ANI ancestry than the groups they live among, even those speaking the same language. Although there are groups in India that are exceptions to these patterns, including well-documented cases where whole groups have shifted social status, the findings are statistically clear, and suggest that the ANI-ASI mixture in ancient India occurred in the context of social stratification".
|South Asian Ancestry. Source: Arain Gang|
|1901 Indian Census of UP Muslims|
|Light Skin Gene Distribution. Source: PLOS Genetics|
|1901 India Census UP Hindu Population By Castes|
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"The question of where the Yamnaya come from has been something of a mystery up to now," said co-author Dr Andrea Manica, from the University of Cambridge.
"We can now answer that as we've found that their genetic make-up is a mix of Eastern European hunter-gatherers and a population from this pocket of Caucasus hunter-gatherers who weathered much of the last Ice Age in apparent isolation."
The researchers also suggest that the Caucasus hunter-gatherers influenced populations further east, particularly in South Asia.
They suggest that this strand of ancestry may also have been associated with the spread of Indo-European languages to the region.
The Indian subcontinent has an enormous variation in skin color.
"We have dark brown (tones), yellow tones and whitish-pinkish tones," said study lead author Chandana Basu Mallick, a biologist at the University of Tartu in Estonia. "We have quite a range and diversity in the biological spectrum of skin color." [10 Things That Make Humans Special]
But because South Asian gene studies are relatively rare, it wasn't clear which genes contributed to this variation. Past research has found at least 126 genes that code for pigmentation in general, Basu Mallick said.
To find out, Basu Mallick and her colleagues took skin color measurements for about 1,228 individuals in Southern India. The researchers then conducted a genetic analysis and found that about 27 percent of the skin color variation was due to a variation in a skin pigmentation gene. Called SLC24A5, this gene codes for lighter skin and is present in almost 100 percent of Europeans.
The team also examined the gene in 95 people around the subcontinent and found that both South Asian and European populations inherited this particular variant from a common ancestor who lived between 22,000 and 28,000 years ago.
Skin pigmentation is one of the most variable phenotypic traits in humans. A non-synonymous substitution (rs1426654) in the third exon of SLC24A5 accounts for lighter skin in Europeans but not in East Asians. A previous genome-wide association study carried out in a heterogeneous sample of UK immigrants of South Asian descent suggested that this gene also contributes significantly to skin pigmentation variation among South Asians. In the present study, we have quantitatively assessed skin pigmentation for a largely homogeneous cohort of 1228 individuals from the Southern region of the Indian subcontinent. Our data confirm significant association of rs1426654 SNP with skin pigmentation, explaining about 27% of total phenotypic variation in the cohort studied. Our extensive survey of the polymorphism in 1573 individuals from 54 ethnic populations across the Indian subcontinent reveals wide presence of the derived-A allele, although the frequencies vary substantially among populations. We also show that the geospatial pattern of this allele is complex, but most importantly, reflects strong influence of language, geography and demographic history of the populations. Sequencing 11.74 kb of SLC24A5 in 95 individuals worldwide reveals that the rs1426654-A alleles in South Asian and West Eurasian populations are monophyletic and occur on the background of a common haplotype that is characterized by low genetic diversity. We date the coalescence of the light skin associated allele at 22–28 KYA. Both our sequence and genome-wide genotype data confirm that this gene has been a target for positive selection among Europeans. However, the latter also shows additional evidence of selection in populations of the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan and North India but not in South India.
We also studied the geospatial pattern of rs1426654-A allele frequencies at the global level using 2763 subjects from previously published data (Table S7) and 1446 individuals from the present study (Table S5). The isofrequency map illustrates high frequencies of the rs1426654-A allele in Europe, Middle East, Pakistan, moderate to high frequencies in Northwest and Central Asia, while being almost absent in East Asians and Africans with notable exceptions in Bantu (Southwest), San, Mandeka, and Ethiopians (Table S7, Figure 2).
Hence, these observations confirm that SLC24A5 has been under strong selective pressure in Europeans. In addition to this, we also performed haplotype-based selection tests based on genome-wide data (see Materials and Methods) of 1035 individuals including 145 Indians. XP-EHH scores demonstrated that SLC24A5 ranks among the top 10 candidate genes for positive selection in Europe, Middle East and Pakistan, and among the top 1% in Central Asia, Iran and North India (Table S13). Likewise, scores from our iHS analysis had significant empirical p-values for Central Asia and North India (Table S13). It is interesting to note that both of our haplotype-based selection tests demonstrated evidence of positive selection in North Indians, but no such evidence of positive selection was found in South Indians (Table S13). The difference in detecting selection signals from genotype and sequence data has also been pinpointed in a previous study .
Science is proving India's incredible diversity. But this clashes directly with Hindutva’s racially nativist understanding of the subcontinent.
The Economic Times reported that the research raises doubts over the “long-held theory of Aryan invasion or migration into South Asia”. Amar Ujala, one of India’s largest Hindi newspapers, was more emphatic: “The Aryan invasion theory proved completely false; India is the guru of South Asia.”
The theory of the Aryan invasion (or migration) was first put forward by Western scholars during the colonial age. It maintained that a race of European or Central Asian “Aryans” swept into the subcontinent displacing the indigenous Indus Valley Civilisation. These Aryans were said to have introduced key elements of Indian culture such as the Sanskrit language – which gave rise to the Indo-Aryan branch of languages spoken all across north, west and east India today – as well as the Vedas, the foundational texts of Hinduism.
This went against Hindutva’s own imagination of India, in which all significant cultural development was held to be indigenous.
Some of what the term “Aryan” once referred to has been proved to be scientifically inaccurate. The Nazis, for example, mistook what is a language grouping to be a racial one. However, much of the Indian media did not bother to explain that the new research actually upheld the theory that people with European Steppe ancestry had brought the Indo-Aryan language branch to India – not overturned it.
In contrast, the media in the West (with no political dog in this fight) communicated this fact rather well. People of Steppe-pastoralist ancestry likely “brought horses and the Indo-European languages now spoken on the subcontinent,” reported the Atlantic. The Smithsonian.com website of the American museum group wrote, “Indo-European languages may have reached South Asia via Central Asia and Eastern Europe during the first half of the 1000s BC.”
These results were not only misinterpreted in the media, they also led to a split in how the authors of the landmark studies and other genetic scientists interpreted them. Vasant Shinde, co-author on both studies, put out a press release on September 6 where he argued that the new data “completely sets aside the Aryan Migration/Invasion Theory” and also proves that the “Harappans were the Vedic people”.
When Scroll.in spoke to Shinde, he explained his point further. “This is not a migration but a movement of people,” Shinde argued. “And the movement from the Steppe is not large.”
Shinde also disagreed with the linguistic conclusions in the research, claiming that they were not based on any scientific proof. “The Harappans were speaking Sanskrit since they were so advanced,” Shinde told Scroll.in.
American geneticist and science writer Razib Khan did not agree with Shinde’s conclusions. “This research points strongly to the fact that Aryans migrated to the Indian subcontinent,” said Khan. “Steppe ancestry is found in almost every group in India. And Steppe ancestry maps to the spread of Indo-Aryan language migration”.
What about the Shinde’s conclusion that the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation were the same as the Vedic people? “I at least cannot make such an interpretation,” Vagheesh Narasimhan, co-author of the Science study told Scroll.in. “This proposition makes jumps that I am not comfortable with.”
Another co-author on the Science paper, Niraj Rai chose his words carefully when it came to Shinde’s claim of equating the Indus Valley Civilisation with the culture that authored the Vedas. “This is not my statement; I don’t agree with this statement,” said the geneticist.
Science is proving India's incredible diversity. But this clashes directly with Hindutva’s racially nativist understanding of the subcontinent.
Another co-author on the Science paper, Niraj Rai chose his words carefully when it came to Shinde’s claim of equating the Indus Valley Civilisation with the culture that authored the Vedas. “This is not my statement; I don’t agree with this statement,” said the geneticist.
Nick Patterson, another co-author, and one of the main movers along with geneticist David Reich of the endeavour to genetically decode South Asian origins had much the same point to make while speaking to Scroll.in: “While I am always willing to listen, I disagree with Dr Shinde that the people of the Indus Valley spoke an Indo-European language.”
The study of the genetics of ancient humans, using DNA to do the work of archeologists and historians in explaining our past, was pioneered at Harvard University by geneticist David Reich. However, till now, India has been one of the dark spots in this field of study. This is because, as Nick Patterson, a co-author on the two new papers and a close associate of Reich, told Scroll.in, “Genetic material survives best in cool and dry climates. And two words I would not use to describe India are cool and dry.”
However, researchers managed to extricate enough DNA from the ear bone of a woman who lived in the Indus Valley Civilisation 4,500 years ago from an archeological site in Rakhigarhi, Haryana. This DNA was analysed by Reich’s team in one paper published in Cell. Another analysis by Reich’s team in Science took a macro view, analysing genetic data from 523 ancient people spanning 8,000 years across Central and South Asia right up to the European Steppe – the largest study of ancient human DNA.
The picture that emerges is one of diverse origin for the modern South Asian population. The main building blocks at the time of the Bronze Age (around four millennia ago) are the Ancient Ancestral South Indians, the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation and a significant migration from the Pontic Steppe. None of these people exist today but it is their mixing that caused most of the modern Indian population to be formed.
Of these, the Ancient Ancestral South Indians are probably the least studied and were present across parts of the subcontinent that did not fall under the Indus Valley Civilisation. Their closest modern-day relatives are the tribes of the Andaman Islands.
Thanks to the Cell paper released on September 5, we now know that the people of the Indus Valley had no Steppe DNA. They mainly had a mixture of Iranian-farmer-related DNA as well as some DNA from Ancient Ancestral South Indians.
The Steppe population came in from grasslands in Eastern Europe corresponding to modern-day Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. The genetic research identifies that this Steppe ancestry burst into India during a “narrow time window” dated between 2,000 BC and 1,500 BC.
Once these Steppe people entered India, a great churning ensued. They mixed with the Indus Valley people to create what is now called the Ancestral North Indian grouping. However, a significant portion of the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation were pushed south when the Steppe people entered. They then mixed with the Ancient Ancestral South Indians to form a group known as the Ancestral South Indian population.
For the next 2,000 years, Indians mixed freely. As a result, most modern South Asians are some mix of Ancestral North Indian and Ancestral South Indian. However, this great churning stopped around 1,900 years ago when Indian society calcified into thousands of endogamous groups who do not intermarry across caste lines – a societal structure maintained till today.
Science is proving India's incredible diversity. But this clashes directly with Hindutva’s racially nativist understanding of the subcontinent.
There are however some exceptions to this narrative. The Bengalis and Mundas, an Adivasi people of eastern India, “have significant amounts of ancestry from South East Asia”, noted Razib Khan, and cannot be explained using this Ancestral North Indian-Ancestral South Indian model.
How this explains modern India
Perhaps the biggest learning from this genetic research is that it explains the various languages South Asians speak. “It is clear that the movement of people mirrors the information we have from linguistics on how different features of language families are shared between them,” explained Vagheesh Narasimhan of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, who has contributed to the research.
The main theory to which Narasimhan is referring deals with how a single language family, the Indo-European family stretches all the way from Britain to Bangladesh and encompasses more than half of the modern world’s population. It counts amongst its members ancient heavyweights such as Sanskrit, Greek, Roman and Pali as well as modern tongues like English, Persian and Hindi.
The people who spread the Indo-European language family across Eurasia are the same Steppe pastoralists who are key constituents in making up the modern Indian population. As the Science paper states, its results provide “evidence for the theory that these [Indo-European] languages spread from the Steppe”.
In South Asia, the Indo-European language family bought in by the Steppe people forked to give rise to the Indo-Aryan daughter branch. The first Indo-Aryan language in South Asia was Vedic Sanskrit, the language of the Rig Veda. In present-day South Asia, around 1.3 billion people speak an Indo-Aryan language. Each of the modern states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka use an Indo-Aryan language as their official language.
Much of this Steppe ancestry is male, the research shows. This means that Steppe migrants “were more successful at competing for local mates than men from the local groups” – which tells us something about the aggressive nature of Indo-Aryan migration into India. The Science paper concludes that there was an “asymmetric social interaction between descendants of Steppe pastoralists and peoples of the Indus Periphery Cline [Indus Valley Civilisation]”.
In simpler language, David Reich explains that the preponderence of male Steppe DNA means that this encounter between the Steppe pastoralists and the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation “cannot have been entirely friendly”.
This male bias is standard for Indo-European migration. In fact, when these Steppe pastoralists reached Europe, Reich’s research found an even larger proportion of male Steppe genes. In large parts of Western Europe, Steppe migrants almost completely displaced local males in a short time span, leading to one Danish archeologist postulating that the coming of these Indo-European speakers “must have been a kind of genocide”.
This pattern, wrote David Reich in his 2018 book Who We Are and How We Got Here, “is exactly what one would expect from an Indo-European-speaking people taking the reins of political and social power 4,000 years ago and mixing with the local peoples in a stratified society, with males from the groups in power having more success in finding mates than those from the disenfranchised groups”.
Archaeologists uncovered a 1,900 to 2,000-year-old Buddhist site on cattle grazing land in Pakistan’s Swat District, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports.
According to lead archaeologist Saqib Raza, the site housed an “educational institution” that included a schooling area, an assembly hall, meditation shrines called stupas, and viharas, or small living quarters for monks. Raza said the complex is from the Kushan era and its structures were damaged over time by various groups that came to settle in the area, eventually including the Hindu Shahi dynasty and Muslims.
According to RFE/RL’s reporter on the ground, work on the site started in December of 2020 and was expected to continue until March of 2021, in preparation for the site to eventually open to visitors. Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via Storyful
One of the major factors that has still kept the origin of the Indian caste system obscure is the unresolved question of the origin of Y-haplogroup R1a1*, at times associated with a male-mediated major genetic influx from Central Asia or Eurasia, which has contributed to the higher castes in India. Y-haplogroup R1a1* has a widespread distribution and high frequency across Eurasia, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, with scanty reports of its ancestral (R*, R1* and R1a*) and derived lineages (R1a1a, R1a1b and R1a1c). To resolve these issues, we screened 621 Y-chromosomes (of Brahmins occupying the upper-most caste position and schedule castes/tribals occupying the lower-most positions) with 55 Y-chromosomal binary markers and seven Y-microsatellite markers and compiled an extensive dataset of 2809 Y-chromosomes (681 Brahmins, and 2128 tribals and schedule castes) for conclusions. A peculiar observation of the highest frequency (up to 72.22%) of Y-haplogroup R1a1* in Brahmins hinted at its presence as a founder lineage for this caste group. Further, observation of R1a1* in different tribal population groups, existence of Y-haplogroup R1a* in ancestors and extended phylogenetic analyses of the pooled dataset of 530 Indians, 224 Pakistanis and 276 Central Asians and Eurasians bearing the R1a1* haplogroup supported the autochthonous origin of R1a1 lineage in India and a tribal link to Indian Brahmins. However, it is important to discover novel Y-chromosomal binary marker(s) for a higher resolution of R1a1* and confirm the present conclusions.
Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years before present). This haplogroup has been identified in the 24,000 year-old remains of the so-called "Mal'ta boy" from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia (Raghavan et al. 2013). This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic. Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have passed on its genes mostly to the modern populations of Europea and South Asia, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).
The series of mutations that made haplogroup R1* evolve into R1a probably took place during or soon after the Last Glacial Maxium. Little is know for certain about R1a's place of origin. Some think it might have originated in the Balkans or around Pakistan and Northwest India, due to the greater genetic diversity found in these regions. The diversity can be explained by other factors though. The Balkans have been subject to 5000 years of migrations from the Eurasian Steppes, each bringing new varieties of R1a. South Asia has had a much bigger population than any other parts of the world (occasionally equalled by China) for at least 10,000 years, and larger population bring about more genetic diversity. The most likely place of origin of R1a is Central Asia or southern Russia/Siberia.
The Indo-Iranian migrations progressed further south across the Hindu Kush. By 1700 BCE, horse-riding pastoralists had penetrated into Balochistan (south-west Pakistan). The Indus valley succumbed circa 1500 BCE, and the northern and central parts of the Indian subcontinent were taken over by 500 BCE. Westward migrations led Old Indic Sanskrit speakers riding war chariots to Assyria, where they became the Mitanni rulers from circa 1500 BCE. The Medes, Parthians and Persians, all Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture, moved into the Iranian plateau from 800 BCE. Those that stayed in Central Asia are remembered by history as the Scythians, while the Yamna descendants who remained in the Pontic-Caspian steppe became known as the Sarmatians to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Indo-Iranian migrations have resulted in high R1a frequencies in southern Central Asia, Iran and the Indian subcontinent. The highest frequency of R1a (about 65%) is reached in a cluster around Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan. In India and Pakistan, R1a ranges from 15 to 50% of the population, depending on the region, ethnic group and caste. R1a is generally stronger is the North-West of the subcontinent, and weakest in the Dravidian-speaking South (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh) and from Bengal eastward. Over 70% of the Brahmins (highest caste in Hindusim) belong to R1a1, due to a founder effect.
Maternal lineages in South Asia are, however, overwhelmingly pre-Indo-European. For instance, India has over 75% of "native" mtDNA M and R lineages and 10% of East Asian lineages. In the residual 15% of haplogroups, approximately half are of Middle Eastern origin. Only about 7 or 8% could be of "Russian" (Pontic-Caspian steppe) origin, mostly in the form of haplogroup U2 and W (although the origin of U2 is still debated). European mtDNA lineages are much more common in Central Asia though, and even in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. This suggests that the Indo-European invasion of India was conducted mostly by men through war. The first major settlement of Indo-Aryan women was in northern Pakistan, western India (Punjab to Gujarat) and northern India (Uttar Pradesh), where haplogroups U2 and W are the most common today.
The southwestern Asian corridor is a wide geographical area that extends from Anatolia and the trans-Caucasus area through the Iranian plateau to the Indo-Gangetic plains of Pakistan and northwestern India. This region is characterized by a patchwork of different physical-anthropology types with complex boundaries and gradients and by the coexistence of several language families (e.g., Indo-European, Turkic, and Sino-Tibetan) as well as relict linguistic outliers. The southwestern Asian corridor, located at the crossroads of major population expansions, was the first portion of Eurasia to be inhabited by the Homo sapiens sapiens population(s) that left Africa ∼60,000 years before the present (YBP) (Tishkoff et al. 1996; Watson et al. 1997; Quintana-Murci et al. 1999), and from this region modern humans migrated to the rest of the world. Although Paleolithic and Mesolithic people left their mark in the area, major prehistorical and historical events with possible genetic consequences occurred during the Neolithic period and later. Important agricultural developments occurred in the eastern horn of the Fertile Crescent ∼8,000 YBP, notably in Elam (southwestern Iran). The highly urban Elamite civilization had close contacts with Mesopotamians but exhibited an extensive differentiation from the rest of the Fertile Crescent populations, including a language that is thought to belong to the Dravidian family. It is hypothesized that the proto-Elamo-Dravidian language (McAlpin 1974, 1981), spoken by the Elamites in southwestern Iran, spread eastwards with the movement of farmers from this region to the Indus Valley and the Indian subcontinent (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994; Cavalli-Sforza 1996; Renfrew 1996). Starting ∼5,000 YBP, animal domestication, particularly the horse, gave the inhabitants of the Central Asian steppes the opportunity to expand geographically in different directions (Zvelebil 1980). These Central Asian nomads, probably from the Andronovo and Srubnaya cultures, migrated through Iran and Afghanistan, reaching Pakistan and India, and their arrival is contemporaneous with the decline of the strong agricultural South Asian civilizations, such as the Harappans.
The approximate location of the 23 populations from which the 910 mtDNAs were sampled is shown in figure 1. Each sample comprises unrelated healthy donors from whom appropriate informed consent was obtained. For the preliminary part of the study, 208 individuals from three different geographic regions were analyzed: 58 individuals from the Caucasus, 50 from Turkey and 100 from southeastern Pakistan. The three samples were heterogeneous; the sample from the Caucasus region was made up of three different ethnic groups: Georgians, Balkarians, and Chechens. The sample from Turkey was collected mainly in Konya (Anatolia). The Pakistani sample was collected in Karachi and comprised mainly Sindhis, who are a mix of tribes of different religions and ethnicities from the southeastern province of Sindh. The extended population sample included 702 individuals from 20 different populations living in the Iranian plateau, the Indus Valley, the Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountains, and Central Asia. Further details of the whole sample collection are reported in table 1 and in the work of Wells et al. (2001) and Qamar et al. (2002). The term “Makrani” refers to the so-called “Negroid Makrani” population living in the Makran coast of Baluchistan, distinct from the Makrani Baluch population, which is not considered in this study.
Traces of Recent and Sexually Asymmetrical Events
The phylogeographical cross-comparison of mtDNA and Y-chromosomal data is very useful for tracing differential male and female histories. Some populations studied here (Iranian, Pakistani, and Central Asian) have been analyzed previously for Y-chromosomal variation (Quintana-Murci et al. 2001; Qamar et al. 2002; Zerjal et al. 2002). In most cases, mtDNA variation is in good agreement with the Y-chromosomal data, suggesting that the patterns reflect general population processes. A good, although surprising, example of concordance between the two systems is the Hazara, who claim to be the direct male-line descendants of Genghis Khan’s army. The presence and time depth of the Y-chromosomal haplogroup C* (xC3c) in the Hazara, along with its absence from neighboring populations, has been interpreted as the genetic legacy of Genghis Khan and his male relatives (Qamar et al. 2002; Zerjal et al. 2003). Our results indicate that the Hazara are also characterized by very high frequencies of eastern Eurasian mtDNAs (35%, table 2, fig. 1), which are virtually absent from bordering populations, suggesting that the male descendants of Genghis Khan, or other Mongols, were accompanied by women of East Asian ancestry.
In contrast to the parallelism between mtDNA and Y-chromosomal data in most populations, the Parsis and the Makrani both show a sharp contrast between these loci. The Parsis live in southeastern Pakistan, and historical records indicate an Iranian origin (Nanavutty 1997). These followers of the prophet Zoroaster started their migration from Iran in the 7th century a.d., settling in the northwestern Indian province of Gujarat around 900 a.d. and eventually moving to Mumbai in India and Karachi in Pakistan. Y-chromosome data show that they resemble Iranian populations rather than their neighbors in Pakistan: an admixture estimate of 100% from Iran was obtained (Qamar et al. 2002), supporting the historical records. However, when the Parsi mtDNA pool was compared with those of the Iranians and Gujaratis (their putative parental populations), a strong contrast with the Y-chromosomal data emerged. About 60% of their maternal gene pool belongs to South Asian haplogroups, which make up only 7% of the combined Iranian sample (table 2). The very high frequency of haplogroup M among the Parsis (55%), similar to those of Indian populations and much higher than that of the combined Iranian sample (1.7%), highlights their close affinities with India (fig. 6). Our results lead to an admixture estimate of 100% from Gujarat and provide a strong contrast between the maternal and paternal components of this population. Although the small population size of the Parsis (a few thousand) may have distorted haplogroup frequencies in this population, diversity of both Y-chromosome and mtDNA lineages remains high, making a strong drift effect unlikely. Our results therefore support a male-mediated migration of the ancestors of the present-day Parsi population from Iran to India, where they admixed with local females, or directional mating in Gujarat between Iranian males and local women, leading ultimately to the loss of mtDNAs of Iranian origin.
A large portion of Indian Muslims are converts from 75% OBC SC ST(Constitutional terms of Lower Caste ethnicities) populations to escape caste system. So, OBC-SC-ST have more blood relation with Muslims and other minorities. While, there is virtually no blood relation between upper caste and OBC SC ST in 5000 years, because of caste system.
Sad reality is, in Hindu-Muslims riots, upper castes use vicious propaganda to pit OBC-SC-ST against Muslims. This is the main purpose of organizations like RSS and Bajrang Dal. By creating these riots upper-castes achieve many objectives at the same time:
1. Create rift between OBC SC ST communities and Muslims communities- makes natural political alliance difficult, hinders the spread of Islam(from Muslims to OBC SC ST communities).
2. Muslims in India are also mixed with other strong ruling Islamic ethnicities, So, they can put up a better than fight intellectually and in other fields, against upper castes. Riots marginalize and suppresses their main competition.
3. Each riot is small civil war, and war is the most profitable business. Whatever Muslims earn by toiling in Arab countries and investing in some business in India, is targeted in riots.
4. OBC SC ST masses, who have no strong religious feeling towards Hinduism, a religion which persecuted their ancestors, get radicalized and forget everything about caste discrimination. Instead of focussing on assertion and upward mobility, gets diverted into having a suspicion/hatred for minorities.
For a OBC-SC-ST, there can be nothing worse than Fighting with your own blood brothers, for a religion that has subjugated your ancestors for 5000 years.
Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 150). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 121). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be. Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.
There’s one other factor that contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. They ended up stoned out of their minds and in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”. Opium contributed considerably to the fearlessness of Rajputs in the arena, but also rendered them incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.
Muthukrishnan Eaaswarkhanth, Ikramul Haque, Zeinab Ravesh, Irene Gallego Romero, Poorlin Ramakodi Meganathan, Bhawna Dubey, Faizan Ahmed Khan, Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Toomas Kivisild, Chris Tyler-Smith, Lalji Singh & Kumarasamy Thangaraj
We analyzed 472 samples for variation in mtDNA control regions and haplogroup-diagnostic coding region sites. Pooled haplogroup frequencies are shown in Table 1 and detailed haplogroup frequencies and definitions are given in Supplementary Tables 1 and 2 and Supplementary Figures 1 and 2. Altogether, haplogroups restricted to the Indian Subcontinent were observed at an average frequency of 63% in Indian Muslim populations as compared with 74% among the non-Muslim neighbors (Table 1). The average contribution of haplogroups of West Eurasian origin to Indian Muslims was 18%, which is not significantly higher than the value observed in non-Muslim populations (14%). In contrast, Iranian Shia Muslims exhibit a high frequency (54%) of West Eurasian lineages. It is interesting that the sub-Saharan African- and Arabian-specific L0a2a2 and R01 lineages were found only in Dawoodi Bohras (TN and GUJ), whereas these lineages were generally absent in Indian non-Muslims, although a related L0a2a2 lineage has been detected previously among the Sindhi population of Pakistan (Figure 2). The Central Asian lineages were found at a lower average frequency of 6% and the haplogroups U7 and W, which exist in similar frequencies in India and Iran, were observed at an average frequency of 6 and 3%, respectively, in Muslim populations. The gene diversity in Muslim populations ranged from 0.80±0.05 to 0.93±0.02, which is slightly higher than that among non-Muslim populations, 0.74±0.02 to 0.86±0.02 (Table 2), and reveals the prevalence of a comparatively high genetic diversity among Indian Muslims. We completely sequenced the mtDNA genome of nine M* samples, which harbor 16223–16275 substitutions in hypervariable segment I (HVS-I), to determine their potential source region. All nine samples were found to share common coding region variants, which enabled us to define a new autochthonous South Asian-specific haplogroup M52, which turned out to share a common origin with one of its sister branches, labeled here as M52a (Figure 3), detected among Indian non-Muslims. The same haplogroup has been recently reported in the Tharus of Nepal and in the Andhra Pradesh population.50 All nine sequences of Muslims are nested within the M52 lineage (Figure 3). Considering this phylogenetic structuring, the newly characterized haplogroup M52 is most likely to have an Indian rather than West Asian or Arabian origin. AMOVA yielded no statistically significant results for any group distinctions on the basis of religion (Indian Muslims and non-Muslims), geography (North India, South India and West India) or other criteria investigated (Supplementary Table 3).
What responsibility do archaeologists have when their research about prehistoric finds is appropriated to make 21st-century arguments about ethnicity?
The study analyzed DNA from ten individuals who had been buried at Ashkelon, a coastal city in Israel, between the Bronze Age and Iron Age. The results suggested that the appearance of new genetic signatures in four of the individuals coincided with changes in the archaeological record that have been associated with the arrival of the Philistines more than 3,000 years ago. These genetic traits resembled those of ancient people who lived in what is now Greece, Italy and Spain. The authors asserted that these findings supported the idea that the Philistines, a group of people made infamous in the Hebrew Bible as the enemies of the Israelites, originally migrated to the Levant from somewhere in southern Europe, but quickly mixed with local populations.
Commenting on the study, Netanyahu wrote: “There’s no connection between the ancient Philistines & the modern Palestinians, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later. The Palestinians’ connection to the Land of Israel is nothing compared to the 4,000 year connection that the Jewish people have with the land.”
The logic here for those who had read the study was confusing. The new research had nothing to say about the genetic history of Jews or Palestinians or the connection those modern populations have to the land. (Though the word "Palestinian" comes from "Philistine," Palestinians are not thought of as the descendants of Philistines; it appears that Netanyahu was using this unrelated point to launch into his argument.)
“To me it seemed like it just provided another opportunity—even if it's just tangential—to take a swipe at Palestinians,” says Michael Press, an independent scholar who studies the presentation of archaeology in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. “It's hard to blame the authors much here since Netanyahu's use of the study really was a non-sequitur.” (The authors of the study did not wish to comment but are preparing a formal response.)
Despite evidence that Jews and Palestinians are genetically closely related, Press and others were also torn about even addressing such inaccuracies in Netanyahu’s comments. Tom Booth, a researcher in the ancient genomics laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute in London, worried that picking apart what the prime minister got wrong about the study would suggest that, in an alternate reality, where his interpretation was scientifically sound, Netanyahu would be justified in using such a study to support his claims about Palestinian rights. “You just need to condemn any attempt to use a study on the past in this way,” Booth says. “The way our ancestors were 4,000 years ago does not really bear on ideas of nation or identity, or it shouldn't in modern nation states.”
This incident has dredged up tensions that have been lurking in archaeology ever since ancient DNA studies started gaining wide attention a decade ago. Advances in technology have made it possible to extract and analyze DNA from ancient bones, teeth, and other sources, and the resulting studies have made discoveries that might otherwise be invisible in the archaeological record: that anatomically modern humans mated with Neanderthals; that ancient populations in Africa moved and mixed more than previously thought; that the ancestors of the first people to set foot in North America may have taken a 10,000-year pause in their migration route in the now-submerged landmass between Siberia and Alaska. “Without knowing whether populations are staying the same or changing, we ended up potentially misunderstanding what's happening in the archaeological record,” Booth says.
137 full genomes from eight Middle-Eastern populations reveals links to agriculture
Despite being the cradle of agriculture, the birthplace of urbanisation and the land bridge that brought early hominins out of Africa, the Middle East as a region has flown relatively under the radar when it comes to genetic research. Now, a new study from the University of Birmingham and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK, has sequenced 137 full genomes from eight Middle-Eastern populations to reveal fascinating insights about human history.
“The Middle East is an important region to understand human history, migrations and evolution: it is where modern humans first expanded out of Africa, where hunter-gatherers first settled and transitioned into farmers, where the first writing systems developed, and where the first major known civilisations emerged,” says co-author Mohamed Almarri of the Wellcome Sanger Institute. With this in mind, many of our modern languages, cultures and behaviours can trace their roots to the region.
The team, led by Almarri and Marc Haber of the University of Birmingham, were able to reconstruct the genomic history of the region with unprecedented precision, noting that many of their findings vindicate theories in the fields of archaeology and linguistics.
The key findings included the identification of 4.8 million new gene variants that are specific to the Middle East, and that were not identified in the Human Genome Diversity Project. The authors say these genes could provide clues about population health specific to the region.
“These are variants that were not previously discovered in other populations,” Haber says. “Hundreds of thousands of these are common in the region, and any of them could hold medical relevance.”
Bastien Llamas, an expert in population genomics and ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide (who was not involved in the study), says expanding our knowledge of the human genome to cover these blind spots will confer many potential benefits.
“Downstream benefits include addressing health issues specific to these populations that are under-represented in global reference databases, but also improving our understanding of disease molecular mechanisms – and this could be relevant for all humans.”
Another finding was evidence of a population bloom coterminous with the development of agriculture in the Levant region during the transition to the Neolithic some 8,000-10,000 years ago, supporting the long-held belief among archaeologists that farming – and the sedentary lifestyle it afforded – would’ve boosted the region’s population. Meanwhile, the genomes showed evidence some 6,000 years ago of a massive population crash in Arabia, around the time the once-verdant region experienced a dramatic drying event.
Shining light on the field of linguistics, the study also found that population movement in the Bronze Age may have spread the Semitic languages (these form the basis for today’s Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic) out from the Levant into Arabia and East Asia.
Another key finding sheds light on the development of disease susceptibility, with the research showing an increase in the frequency of variants associated with type 2 diabetes in some Middle-Eastern populations over the past 2,000 years, showing that variants that may once have been evolutionarily beneficial can end up coding for disease.
“In this case, it looks like some genetic variants that are associated with diabetes in present-day Emirati populations were at high frequency in the population 2,000 years ago,” says Llamas. “It is entirely possible that these variants were positively selected to survive the arid environment and the nomadic herder lifestyle of the ancestors of Emirati people.”
The Arabians have deeper roots in Africa, while the Levantines’ roots lie in Europe and Anatolia in today’s Turkey. They differ in their amount of Neanderthal DNA as well
Apparently, it is so: Anatomically modern humans have been leaving Africa for almost a quarter million years, but they all went extinct until an exit around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. A new study of genomes in the Middle East shores up this hypothesis, finding no trace of the early humans in any of the genomes tested.
One of the routes out of Africa for hominins going back 2 million years, and later, for humans too, was the Levant, Iraq and Arabia. Indeed, researchers have found evidence of human and hominin exits in various places, including Israel and Saudi Arabia: stuff like the odd bone or a batch of stone tools.
The prevailing belief is that the groups taking part in the earliest migrations went extinct (though not before encountering other hominins in Eurasia). Then about 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, anatomical humans left Africa – and survived. They met and mixed with Neanderthals and heavens knows who else, and begat modern humanity.
“We used a new whole genome sequencing technology to study human populations from the Levant [Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank], Iraq and Arabia, and we reconstruct the population history of the region from over 125,000 years ago up to the last millennium,” Almarri says. “We show how changes in lifestyle and climate have affected the demography of human populations in the region.”
How does one test latter-day DNA for signals older than 60,000 years? By the density of mutations, he explains: “The more mutations there are, the older the segments will be.”
That’s a generalization; some genetic sequences are more evolutionarily conserved than others. If you check the sequence for the protein ubiquitin, it will be the same from a human to a tree frog and obviously, for earlier humans. But if a given segment has a ton of mutations (that didn’t kill the bearer), we may assume it’s old.
The Arabians have deeper roots in Africa, while the Levantines’ roots lie in Europe and Anatolia in today’s Turkey. They differ in their amount of Neanderthal DNA as well
And indeed, genomic studies of today’s non-African populations show a genetic bottleneck around that time, Almarri says. Non-Africans all descend from exiters around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago and are much less genetically diverse than sub-Saharan Africans, who suffered no bottleneck.
Moving on, Levantines and Iraqis share the same Neanderthal signals as Eurasians, the team found. Arabians on the other hand have less Neanderthal DNA.
Also, present-day Africans are believed to have a contribution from Neanderthals after all, a very small one, conferred by early humans who trekked in reverse – from Europe back to Africa – after mixing with Neanderthals.
Anyway, the Arabians of today apparently didn’t arise from early Levantine farmers but from Natufian hunter-gatherers who preceded these farmers and Africans, the study shows. Nor do the findings support the theory that Levantine farmers later replaced the indigenous Arabian population
It bears stressing that human fossil remains are incredibly rare; from the deep prehistoric past Saudi Arabia has so far produced one finger bone from 85,000 years ago, but it has also produced tools that may have been special to humans (as opposed to other hominins) from 125,000 years ago. In Israel there are a lot more very ancient human remains, starting with the 200,000-year-old jawbone found in Misliya, and there are more when you get to the Natufian period but they’re still very rare.
Another difference the genomic analysis indicated relates to the Neolithic Revolution – the “invention” of agriculture.
But here it bears stressing that the Middle East, Arabia and North Africa weren’t always baking-hot deserts. Sometimes, depending on planetary orbital cycles, they “greened.” Hippos and crocodiles cavorted in lakes and rivers, and hominins – and later, modern humans – could comfortably roam.
When the Neolithic Revolution – the gradual transition from a life of hunting and gathering to agriculture and animal husbandry – began over 10,000 years ago, Arabia and the Sahara were in such a lush period. The Arabian Desert as we know it today, the biggest sand desert in the world, didn’t exist. It began to form sometime between 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. (That might help explain the paucity of prehistoric human remains.)
In 1938, Heinrich Himmler, a leading member of Germany's Nazi party and a key architect of the Holocaust, sent a five-member team to Tibet to search for the origins of the supposed Aryan race. Author Vaibhav Purandare recounts the fascinating story of this expedition, which passed through India.
A little over a year before World War Two began, a group of Germans landed surreptitiously along India's eastern borders.
They were on a mission to discover the "source of origin of the Aryan race".
Adolf Hitler believed that "Aryan" Nordic people had entered India from the north some 1,500 years earlier, and that the Aryans had committed the "crime" of mixing with the local "un-Aryan" people, losing the attributes that had made them racially superior to all other people on earth.
Hitler regularly expressed deep antipathy for the Indian people and their struggle for freedom, articulating his sentiments in his speeches, writings and debates.
Yet, according to Himmler, one of Hitler's top lieutenants and the head of the SS, the Indian subcontinent was still worth a close look.
This is where Tibet came into the picture.
Those who swore by the idea of a white Nordic superior race were believers in the tale of the imagined lost city of Atlantis, where people of "the purest blood" had apparently once lived. Believed to have been situated somewhere between England and Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean, this mythical island allegedly sunk after being struck by a divine thunderbolt.
All the Aryans who survived had supposedly moved on to more secure places. The Himalayan region was believed to be one such refuge, Tibet in particular because it was famous for being "the roof of the world".
In 1935, Himmler set up a unit within the SS called the Ahnenerbe - or Bureau of Ancestral Heritage - to find out where people from Atlantis had gone after the bolt from the blue and the deluge, and where traces of the great race still remained and could be discovered.
In 1938, he sent a team of five Germans to Tibet on this "search operation".
Two of the team's members stood out from the rest. One was Ernst Schafer, a gifted 28-year-old zoologist who had been to the India-China-Tibet border twice earlier. Schafer had joined the SS soon after the Nazi triumph of 1933, long before Himmler became his patron for the Tibet expedition.
Schafer was crazy about hunting and loved to gather trophies in his Berlin home. On one hunting expedition, while attempting to shoot a duck from a boat he and his wife were in, he slipped when taking aim and shot his wife in the head accidentally, killing her.
The second key man was Bruno Beger, a young anthropologist who had joined the SS in 1935. Beger would take measurements of the skulls and facial details of Tibetans and make face masks, he said, "especially to collect material about the proportions, origins, significance and development of the Nordic race in this region".
Rarely can a spoonful of rice have caused such a stir. When M.K. Stalin, chief minister of Tamil Nadu, addressed the south Indian state’s legislature on September 9th, he celebrated a musty sample of the country’s humble staple. Carbon dating by an American laboratory, he said, had just proved that the rice, found in a small clay offering bowl—itself tucked inside a burial urn outside the village of Sivakalai, near the southernmost tip of India—was some 3,200 years old. This made it the earliest evidence yet found of civilisation in Tamil Nadu. The top duty of his government, the chief minister triumphantly declared, was to establish that the history of India “begins from the landscape of the Tamils”.
The received wisdom about India’s early history has been that civilisation generally flowed the other way, from north to south. So why is a provincial politician so keen to turn this narrative upside down? The answer lies in modern identity politics as much as archaeology.
Mr Stalin’s party, which returned to power in Tamil Nadu in May after a decade in the wilderness, has secular roots and is sworn to defend south India, and particularly its Dravidian languages, from perceived cultural dominance by the far more populous north. This threat has grown since 2014, when the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) won control of the national government. With its stronghold in the conservative north, the bjp tends to see not strength, but weakness in diversity. It also tends to view the past as a simple story of the rise of a Sanskrit civilisation—Sanskrit being the language of Hindu texts, and ancestor of most Indo-European languages spoken across north India—which peaked in a pan-Indian golden age, followed by sad decline during a millennium of Muslim and Christian rule.
Sustaining a Tamil counter-narrative requires evidence—which is why archaeology matters. Aside from the rich and sophisticated ancient Tamil poetry known as Sangam literature, until now proof of the south’s claim to equal antiquity has been thin on the ground. Tamil Nadu’s two annual monsoons and long seasons of extreme heat are destructive to brick or wooden remains. Ethnic nationalists also accuse authorities in far-off Delhi, India’s capital, of devoting far more resources to archaeology in the north than in the south.
But the balance of discoveries has been changing; Mr Stalin’s rice pot was not the first startling recent find in Tamil Nadu. Over the past decade estimates of when urban settlement began in the state have been pushed steadily back, from around 300bc to the 1155bc carbon date of the Sivakalai rice offering. The biggest breakthrough came in 2014 near a village called Keeladi, outside the city of Madurai. It is said that a local lorry driver overheard archaeologists chatting at a roadside tea stall. He took them to a palm grove where he confessed to stealing coconuts. It was littered with sherds of ancient pottery.
Tamils for the most part fit happily into today’s Indian mosaic of some 22 major language groups and hundreds of smaller ones. But they do feel a bit different, and a bit special. “They portray us as little states and want to make the history of the south a small event,” says Kanimozhi Mathi, a lawyer in Chennai who in 2018 sued the government when it threatened to close the Keeladi dig. “But we are not just one state among many. We are a nation.”
Christophe Jaffrelot, who has caught every wave in India, says the country has changed, perhaps irreversibly, from a liberal secular polity a decade ago to a majoritarian ‘ethnic democracy’ today
Jaffrelot tracks the continually expanding catalogue of body blows that have assailed the founding ideals of the Indian republic from the time Modi announced his candidature in the fall of 2013. Those of us who have lived through the lynching of Muslims and Dalits, the assassination of rationalist intellectuals, the trolling of scholars, the detention of activists, the harassment of movie stars, the evisceration of the media, universities and courts, the decimation of the opposition, the destruction of the economy, the persecution of the minorities, the erosion of fundamental rights, the gutting of the public sector, the targeting of NGOs, the silencing of civil society, the distortion of history, the usurpation of social media by hate speech, fake news and propaganda, the defiance and denigration of Parliamentary procedure by the ruling party, the demonisation of dissent, the encouragement of vigilantism, the garrisoning of the Kashmir Valley, the battering of the Constitution, and the forsaking of truth — having borne witness, we understand why compiling this gruesome list requires nearly 700 pages.
But the book is not just an act of meticulous, unsparing documentation, though it is that too. It will prove an invaluable record of our time when future generations struggle to explain the swift collapse of Indian democracy. Once the world’s largest, liveliest and most interesting experiment in equal citizenship, universal adult franchise, regular elections, representative government, minority protection, a free press, and popular self-rule, India always had problematic enclaves of exception like Kashmir and the Northeast. But before Modi, its basic commitment to diversity and pluralism seemed genuine.
Jaffrelot doesn’t just remind us of what has been happening to unravel the liberal consensus in the past 7-8 years. He also brings to bear on these data an enormous scholarly literature and theoretical toolkit about ethnic democracy, populist strongmen, rightwing nationalism, charismatic leadership, the deinstitutionalisation of the state, creeping authoritarianism that appears electorally mandated, the relentless reduction of minorities to second-class citizenship, and the mobilisation of identities in new patterns of conflict, domination and exclusion, jettisoning tolerance, equality and inclusion.
He examines how Yogi Adityanath communalises governance, runs a militia State, and makes Islamophobia an item of official policy. Campaigns of “gauraksha”, “love jihad” and “gharwapsi” make for a deadly cocktail of privileged caste orthopraxy and social conservatism, reinforce patriarchy, and continually bully, shame and terrorise Muslims and Christians. The cow belt and Hindi heartland, including Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh along with Uttar Pradesh, spilling south into Karnataka and east into Assam, are now thoroughly saffronised.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Utrecht University geologist Prof. Douwe van Hinsbergen, who led the team, said ‘we now have the answer as to how the mountains and continents of the future will look like.
“I had made reconstructions of the past – of a continent that disappeared in the Mediterranean region, another major continent that disappeared in Southeast Asia whose relics we find all over Indonesia. But I had never made any future simulations. But the question caught my attention and I discussed it with my student and after about two years we now have an answer,” said Dr. van Hinsbergen.
The research team noted that Seychelles and Mauritius islands will all be pushed up and Mumbai will lie at the foot of the Somalaya range, as New Delhi lies at the foot of the Himalayas today.
“You will get a depression in southwest India, from Trivandrum all the way to Karachi. And the Horn of Africa which includes Somalia will override or bulldoze over southwest India and make this big mountain belt,” explained Dr. van Hinsbergen.
How did they arrive at this conclusion?
Thomas Schouten, a PhD student at ETH Zürich, in Switzerland, and one of the authors explained: “We have so many studies that have reconstructed the past, for which we have knowledge on how tectonic plates moved – how fast, which way they went etc. In our study, we assumed that the rift that goes through the African continent and underlies the east African lakes will continue to split the two parts of Africa and an ocean will be formed in the next 200 million years.”
He added that when this space is created in Africa, we must remove space in the Indian Ocean. “So basically the beaches of Malabar will be scooped up like a bulldozer, and coral reefs, beaches, and low lying areas will fold up to become high peaks. Seychelles will also get placed next to the Lakshadweep and along with the Malabar sediments they may become a mountain range of eight kilometers high, similar to the Himalayas where we find old coral reefs at the tops of mountains like Everest,” explains Schouten.
Why break Africa?
The team explained that the fault lines along which two ancient continents collided in the past remain weak. “So, modern continents like Africa can break along those old fault lines. And it’s a similar thing to how India broke off from Madagascar, 90 million years ago,” explains Dr. van Hinsbergen “The most important thing to remember is, continents do not exist forever. India has existed as we know it today only for the last few tens of million years. Before that, it was an island. The Indian Ocean will surely close one day. And then there will be a continent hitting India. And it’s either Africa or Antarctica, or it might be Australia.”
In the construction of the future, the team looked at Africa. They added that they ignored Southeast Asia, which will likely collide with east India. “India may sometime in the future even look like Mongolia – situated right in the middle of an enormous supercontinent surrounded by high mountain ranges of which the Somalaya may be one,” said Dr. van Hinsbergen.
The team said that the main goal was to think through which features of the modern Indian Ocean will be preserved in mountain belts, and which may not. This helps to better reconstruct the history of the Earth’s plates and surfaces of the geological past, which is important to help understand the evolution of climate, life, and resources.
NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Culture is in the process of acquiring an array of DNA profiling kits and associated state-of-the-art machines for establishing the genetic history and “trace the purity of races in India”. Highly placed government sources said the acquisition process began recently following a meeting that Ministry of Culture Secretary Govind Mohan held with well-known archaeologist Professor Vasant S Shinde and senior scientists and scholars of the Lucknow-based Birbal Sahani Institute of Paleosciences (BSIP) in Hyderabad two months ago.
Shinde is adjunct professor at the Bangalore-based National Institute of Advanced Study and director of the Rakhigarhi Research Project. Founder of the Society of South Asian Archaeology, Prof Shinde’s research contribution includes “DNA analysis and craniofacial reconstruction of Harappan People”.
When contacted over phone, Prof Shinde admitted that the gadgets were in the process of being acquired. He said, “We want to see how mutation and mixing of genes in the Indian population has happened in the last 10,000 years. Genetic mutation depends on the intensity of contact among populations and the time that this process takes. We will then have a clear-cut idea of the genetic history. You may even say that this will be an effort to trace the purity of races in India.”
The Kolkata-based Anthropological Survey of India (ANSI), which has, “of late”, expressed “disinclination” to proceed with the exercise to trace the genetic origins of early Indians because the issue is “politically loaded”, is also part of this project which was initially conceived in 2019. A budget of `10 crore has been earmarked for procuring the DNA profilers and the other related scientific gadgets, sources said. The aim, according to the ANSI, is to “develop a resource of cell lines and DNA samples that can be used to study DNA sequence polymorphism in contemporary Indian populations”
More importantly, the ANSI seeks to “establish (the) Indian role in the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa” because “modern humans could have taken the ‘southern route of dispersal’, utilising the coastlines to travel from Africa, through Arabia, across the Indian subcontinent and then into South-East Asia and finally into Australia”.
Secondly, the ANSI wants to understand the genetic diversity of Indian populations among various ethnic groups in different regions of India based on direct re-sequencing of haploid genomes. By its own admission, under this project, the ANSI has studied 75 communities comprising 7,807 blood samples from different parts of the country. These communities include the Jarawa, Nicobarese, Andh, Kathodi, Madia, Malpaharia, Munda, Bhoi Khasi, Nihal, Toto, Dirang Monpa, Paitei, Lepcha and a host of others
Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a 'bhagwa archaeologist' for his spurious claims on Ayodhya. |
B.B. Lal and the Making of Hindutva Archaeology
Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a 'bhagwa archaeologist' for his spurious claims on Ayodhya.
If there is one name in the history of post-independent India that has had a towering influence on the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), it is Braj Basi Lal, who recently passed away last month at the age of 101.
Lal’s career biography ideologically maps the trajectory ASI took after India broke its colonial shackles. Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality as seen from his early writing in the ASI journal Ancient India in the 1950s. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a “bhagwa [saffron] archaeologist” for his spurious claims on Ayodhya, which provided an archaeological impetus to the eventual demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
As a young archaeologist, Lal was trained at the famous Taxila School of Archaeology in 1944. Led by Mortimer Wheeler – the last director general of the colonial ASI – this is considered to be the first school of field archaeology. It had an enduring impact on the trajectory of post-colonial Indian archaeology, as many students who attended went to become the director generals of the ASI, including B.B. Lal who headed the ASI from 1968 to 1972.
The first time I saw B.B. Lal was during unsavoury circumstances. It was a cold winter of 1994 during the Third World Archaeological Congress (WAC 3) held in Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. As a young graduate student of archaeology, I was a delegate attending the WAC 3 – a gathering of international archaeologists held once in four years. The conference opened with disarray organisation, disordered logistics, and corruption allegations.
Palpably, an unofficial gag order prohibiting any discussion on the demolition of the Babri Masjid was floating in the glittering corridors of the five-star hotel. I heard muted voices of dissent and the simmering tension in the air threatened to disrupt the conference.
On the last day of the conference, an ugly fistfight broke out on the stage of the hotel’s regal ballroom. The national and international delegates sat in stunned silence. Amid a heated discussion and vociferous slogan shouting, a group of senior Indian archaeologists led by B.B. Lal and right-wing archaeologist S.P. Gupta were seen rushing onto the stage.
They snatched the microphone from the Indian delegates who had come up to the podium to read a petition for WAC-3 to pass a resolution condemning the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The conference ended wretchedly, with the WAC Council boycotting the official closing ceremony in protest.
B.B Lal’s role in transforming the ASI from a sedate government organisation excavating diverse pasts of this ancient nation to something that has been trying to prove the archaeological veracity of the ancient Hindu epic tradition is indelible.
Lal’s most significant discovery was that of the earliest Jain terracotta figurine (4th century BCE) and Roman Rouletted Ware (1st-2nd century CE). This evidence showed that Ayodhya was not just part of the brisk ancient trade route, but it was a multicultural site. There was no mention of a Hindu temple at the site. The short excavation reportage in IAR ironically stated that the entire period after the 11th century “was devoid of special interest”.
However, it was in 1990 when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was jolting the political climate in India, and more than 10 years after he had excavated Ayodhya, Lal, in an influential article in a Hindu propaganda journal, Manthan, announced that he had recovered Hindu temple pillar-bases during the excavation.
Lal forcefully asserted his authority as an eminent ASI archaeologist behind his egregious claim that remains of a Hindu temple existed under the Babri Masjid. He allegedly provided false archaeological justification for the claim that the Hindutva fundamentalists were making about the Babri Masjid. Archaeology was irrevocably pushed into the greatest political crisis of postcolonial India.
Lal’s assertion about the presence of temple debris under the mosque had led to an acrimonious debate among archaeologists and historians in India. He led a group of historians and archaeologists, along with his collaborator S.P. Gupta, who provided archaeological justification to the political project of Hindu fundamentalism.
With this, the project of Hindutva’s appropriation of archaeology’s scientific legitimacy to pursue its divisive politics reached its logical conclusion on December 6, 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished.
Along with this project, Lal is also the progenitor of the other favourite Hindutva archaeological project – ‘Aryanization of the Indus Civilization’. This basically means deceptively force-fitting archaeological evidence of the Harappan civilisation (3300-1800 BCE) with the Vedic civilisation (1500-600 BCE) and creating a new ethnic category called the ‘Vedic-Harappans’ – the authors of the ‘Out of India’ theory.
This project disputes the movement of the Aryans from the West, and asserts, without much evidence, that the Harappans were indigenous Vedic Aryans. This is a speculative premise devoid of any material data on the ground through which the Harappan civilisation becomes the birthplace of the indigenous Aryans who spoke the proto-Indo-European language and spread throughout the Eurasian world.
The centre of this process of ‘Aryanization’ – the practice of reading Aryan elements into Harappan material culture – is the river Saraswati, which, thanks to specious scholarship by Lal, moved from the mythological to the archaeological realm. I say specious because in all of his official ASI publications that dealt with the Harappan site of Kalibangan that Lal excavated, he never used the word ‘Saraswati’.
He excavated the site of Kalibangan from 1960-69, but published the report only 34 years after the end of the excavation. In the meanwhile, in non-official publications, Lal routinely postulated the idea that the monsoon-fed Ghaggar-Hakra paleo-channel was actually the Vedic river Saraswati, without archaeological, geological, or hydrological evidence.
If Lord Rama was the divine centre of the property dispute at Ayodhya for Lal, then Goddess Saraswati was the celestial pivot of the making of the Vedic Harappans.
Per 1901 British Estimate for UP Muslims:
37% are Ashraf (Syed, Sheikh, Mughal, Pathan)
8% directly descend from Twice Born Upper-Castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas)
33% descend from Lower-Caste Shudras (artisans, cultivators)
21% descend from untouchable menials, Dalits.
Compare to figures for Hindus, where the Twice-Born Upper-Castes are evenly balanced with the Lowest-Caste Dalits at about 25% each.
Meanwhile the Shudras comprise the great mass of the Hindu population, at nearly 50% of the total.
Two new genetic studies upheld Indo-Aryan migration. So why did Indian media report the opposite?
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