General Guide To Race of India: The people of India are predominantly Caucasoid. Their features, hair texture, hairiness, the shape of the nose, mouth, and so on, are all distinctly Caucasoid. It is only in some of the far, out-of-the-way places of India, as in this country, that you find certain traces of other races.
The present population of the Indian subcontinent has been divided into four racial groups- the Negritos, the Proto-Australoids, the Proto-Australoids, the Mongoloids, and the Mediterraneans. The Negritos were the first of the racial groups that came to India.
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Racial Groups of India
Proto-Australoid race came here just after the Negritos and their sources are Australian aborigines. The Mongoloids came to India through the passes of northern and eastern mountain ranges. The Mediterraneans came to India from the south-west Asia.
Guide To Race of India
The present population of the Indian subcontinent has been divided broadly into the following racial groups:
1. The Negritos-Perhaps they were the first of the racial groups that came to India. They got settled in the hilly areas of Kerala and the Andaman Islands. Kadar, Irula and Puliyan tribes of Kerala resemble to a great extent with the Negritos. They are related to Africa, Australia and their neighbouring islands. The Negritos have black (dark) skin, woolly hair, broad and flat nose and slightly protruded jaws.
2. The Proto-Australoids-Perhaps the people belonging to the Proto-Australoid race came here just after the Negritos. Their sources are Australian aborigines. They are settled in the central India from the Rajmahal hills to the Aravalis. Santhal, Bhil, Gond, Munda, Oraon etc. tribes are related to this group. They are physically different from the Negritos in many ways, e.g. their hair is coarse and straight instead of being woolly. It is considered that they were the people who, in collaboration with the Mediterranean race, had developed the Indus Valley Civilization. Their skeletons have been found in the excavations of Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
3. The Mongoloids-The original homeland of this race was Mongolia (China). The Mongoloids came to India through the passes of northern and eastern mountain ranges. These people are concentrated in the nearby areas of the Himalayas, e.g. Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and other areas of the north-eastern India. The Mongoloids have pale or light pale skin, short height, comparatively large head, half open eyes, flat face and broad nose. In India, they can be divided into two branches-
A. Paleo-Mongoloids– They were the first of the Mongoloids who came to India. These people are settled mainly in the border areas of the Himalayas. They are found mostly in Assam and the adjacent states.
B. Tibeto-Mongoloids– These people came from Tibet and are settled mainly in Bhutan, Sikkim, areas of north-western Himalayas and beyond the Himalayas in which Ladakh and Baltistan are included.
4. The Mediterraneans– They came to India from the south-west Asia. They may be divided into three groups-
A. Paleo-Mediterraneans– They were the first of the Mediterranean’s race that came to India. They were of medium height, black skin, well- built body and long head. Perhaps they were the people who had begun cultivation for the first time in the north-west India. The group which came later pushed them towards the central and the south India. At present, the Paleo-Mediterraneans with their other sub-groups comprise the most part of the population of the south India and a large part of the population of
the north India.
B. Mediterranean’s– They came to India later on. They developed the Indus valley civilization in collaboration with the Proto-Australoids and initiated the bronze culture for the first time during 2500-1500 BC. Later on, the new invading group coming from north-west pushed them from the Indus valley to the Ganga valley and towards the south of the Vindhyas. Today, most of the population of lower castes in the north India belongs to this race.
C. Oriental-Mediterranean’s– They came to India very late. They are populated mostly in the north-western border areas of Pakistan and Punjab. They are also found in sufficient number in Sindh (Pakistan), Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.
5. The Brachycephalics (Western race with broad head): Apart from Mongoloid, some other races found in India having broad head are:
6. The Nordics: They are the last of the racial groups that came to India. They came from Taiga and Baltic regions. They were Aryan speaking families with long head, fair complexion, and sharp nose, well-developed and well-built body. They are found in the region of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu.
Funny, people should already know that India and Indians are diverse. There is not one single race in India. Read my answer about the peopling of India to get a basic understanding for the history and migrations into and out of India: Shivaji Pawar’s answer to Where did Indians originated from?
This is a very complex topic and needs a deeper look into the history of South Asia. India is quite a large nation, but I will write about the majority of Indians (the people which are internationaly known as “Indian”)
At first some basics regarding the ancestral groups and their arrival, than evidence from genetic studies.
We have several ancestral groups which influenced India (some more, and some less):
- The Indo-Aryans (West-Eurasian)
- The Dravidians (West-Eurasian)
- East Asian tribals (Tibeto-Burmese and Austroasiatic)
- Negrito tribals (related to the isolated Andamanese)
- Paleolithic pastoralists from West Asia (West-Eurasian-related)
We know that the first inhabidants of India were the Negrito tribals, which were related to the Andamanese and other Negrito groups of Southeast Asia. They are clearly different to the modern average Indian:
They had a rather low population number and lived as hunter-gatherers in tribes and clans, mostly in central, southern and eastern India. The Andamanese people themself have today some admixture:
Read This: Shree Hanuman Chalisa Lyrics (श्री हनुमान चालीसा) with English
Yellow is East Asian and Blue is West-Eurasian. Purple is Negrito/South-Eurasian. It may be an outlier sample, but it shows that the Andamanese are not the most isolated tribe as suggested before.
Than, it is not exactly known when, but generally estimated 40,000 years ago, a pastoralist group from paleolithic West Asia migrated into India (Levant late Aurignacian population). Some geneticists, such as Reich, propose that this West-Eurasian-related population may have been native to Northwest India. He suggests that paleolithic India had already two distinct populations which coexisted.
This West-Eurasian-related population mixed with the Negrito tribals and formed the so called “Ancient Archaic South Indians” (short AASI). It is also suggested that this West-Eurasian-related group did not stop in India, but also migrated into Southeast Asia, were they also intermixed with some tribes, as well as to Oceania (Australia), were they also mixed with local residents. (AASI is nevertheless mostly Negrito, but paternal already influenced by West-Eurasians).
After this, some East Asian tribes migrated from Mainland Southeast Asia to Northeast and parts of eastern India. The Munda are descedants of male East Asians and female AASI.
→ The prehistoric population of India was formed by Negrito tribes, some East Asian tribes and West-Eurasian-related pastoralists (which seem to have already dominated large parts of India). But we are only at the beginning of the formation of modern Indians!
About 12,000 years ago, Proto-Dravidian people arrived from West Asia (modern day southern Iran) to Northern India. They are suggested to have been closely related to the ancient Elamites, which next to the Sumerians, were one of the first high cultures of the world. (Elamo-Dravidian).
The Dravidian Kodava (see the picture above) have nearly exclusive West-Eurasian ancestry (no Steppe or AASI ancestry), and represent the proto-Dravidians.
Recent studies have shown that the proto-Dravidians were descendants of neolithic West-Eurasians which are suggested to have migrated from the Zagros mountains in modern day Iran to northern South Asia some 12,000 years ago.
According to another study in 2017 by the University of Mainz, the neolithic West-Eurasian ancestry component forms the main ancestry of modern South Asians. These neolithic farmers or pastoralists migrated from the Fertile Crescent, most likely from a region near the Zagros mountains in modern day Iran, to South Asia some 12,000 years ago. These neolithic West-Eurasian spoke a variant of proto-Dravidian.
The linguist Southworth says that the evidence point to a strong contact between Elamite and Dravidian, suggesting that both languages originated somewhere in modern day Iran (or a nearby area) before the migration into India. He argues that Dravidian, Brahui and Elamite share a common origin, with the Elamite branch splitted relative early from the others. He calls this family “Zagrosian”.
They created the famous Indus Valley civilization (IVC). The IVC is ancestral to modern Indian culture. Indus Valley culture was predominantly of West-Eurasian origin, and were closely related to West Asian farmers in the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia). They assimilated a small number of female AASI. (There is no male AASI contribution found among the IVC samples). Analysed IVC samples were on average 89% West-Eurasian.
Leading scientists and linguists, including Narasimhan et al. 2019, support a connection about the Indus Valley population and early Dravidians.
According to David McAlpin, the Dravidian languages were brought to India by immigration into India from Elam. According to Renfrew and Cavalli-Sforza, proto-Dravidian was brought to India by farmers from the Iranian part of the Fertile Crescent. The genetic data makes a clear correlation between Indus Valley ancestry, Zagrosian ancestry and Dravidian people/languages.
The IVC population already expanded into other parts of India, mixing and displacing the outnumberd AASI tribes. But AASI tribes still existed, especially in eastern part of Peninsular India.
Than, about 4,000 to 3,500 years ago, the Indo-Aryans arrived from Central Asia or northern Iran/Afghanistan.
The Indo-Aryans arrived to the IVC culture and peacefully united with the IVC people. They also combinated the IVC culture with Indo-Aryan culture. This makes the Vedic culture a native Indian culture.
The Indo-Aryans are one of the branches of the Indo-European peoples. They were thought to have originated in eastern Europe, but more recent evidence suggest northern Iran or Armenia.
The genetic basis of a number of physical features of the proto-Indo-European people were ascertained by the ancient DNA studies conducted by Haak et al. (2015), Wilde et al. (2014) and Mathieson et al. (2015): they were genetically tall (phenotypic height is determined by both genetics and environmental factors), overwhelmingly dark-eyed (brown), dark-haired and had a skin colour that was moderately light, though somewhat darker than that of the average modern European. (I.e. resembling northern Iranians or Armenians).
After the arrival of the Indo-Aryans, climatic problems and economic problems caused the demise of the IVC and both Dravidian-speaking groups and Indo-Aryan-speaking groups expanded to every corner of India. During this expansion, the last of the AASI tribes got assimilated and or went extinct.
The formation of modern Indians was complete.
It should be noted that skin colour is an adaption to sun-radiation. Not a “racial characteristic”. “Race” is based on shared genetics, anthropologic and craniometric characteristics (i.e. facial features, skull and bone structure,…). Skin colour alone is nothing but a environmental protection.
Now we come to the genetic evidence:
Generally, Indian people are predominantly West-Eurasian (i.e. closely related to West Asians or Europeans). We can already see this by simply looking out us Indians and compareing it to other populations. We Indians do not look like the Andamanese Negritos at all. Only some tribal people have a somewhat resemblance, but still differ.
Genetically speaking, we have three important ancestry components:
- Andamanese-related ancestry (Negrito)
- West-Eurasian ancestry A (Dravidian)
- West-Eurasian ancestry B (Indo-Aryan)
Next to this three, there is a minor East Asian ancestry in some groups of Northeast Indians (i.e. tribals such as the Munda or Santali).
The Andamanese-related (Negrito) ancestry is on average person at about 10% (10% to 20% depending on caste). Nevertheless, it is higher in forest-dwelling tribals at about 30%. Only a very small number of tribals has more. The Paniya tribes is noted for the highest AASI/Andamanese-related ancestry at 60%.
The West-Eurasian ancestry A (i.e. the ancestral Dravidian or Zagrosian component) forms the major ancestry of all Indians and is on average 60%. The Dravidian Kodova are noted for their high Zagrosian ancestry at nearly 100%.
The West-Eurasian ancestry B (i.e. the ancestral Indo-Aryan or Steppe component) range from 6.5% to 50.2% and is on average about 20%. It is generally higher in Indo-Aryan-speaking groups. But even tribal people have it. The isolated Dalit Mala tribals as example have 18% Indo-Aryan ancestry. The highest Indo-Aryan ancestry is found among the Kalash people and some other northern groups at 50.2%.
→ The genetic ancestry of Indians is predominantly West-Eurasian. Althought some groups are shifted away, the majority of Indian people are close to other West-Eurasians.
Now some more genetic evidence to get a clearer picture:
In terms of paternal DNA lineages, Indian people are (nearly) 100% West-Eurasian.
The common paternal DNA lineages in India are H, L, R and J. All of them are commonly found in other West-Eurasian populations, such as Europeans or Arabs.
Lets begin with the paternal DNA lineage H. H arrived in India with the first West-Eurasians more than 40,000 years ago. They were part of the Levant late Aurignacian population and had also influence on Southeast Asia and Oceania. H is today found in India, West Asia and Europe, but also in the Khmer people which had some Indian influence.
According to geneticist Oppenheimer it is highly probable that nearly all human maternal lineages in Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe descended from only four mtDNA lines that originated in South Asia 50,000–100,000 years ago.
Generally we can say that there are maternal lineages from West-Eurasia, East-Eurasia and South-Eurasia, but also certain distinct lineages which are only found in South Asia, but closest to West-Eurasian lineages compared to the others.
Other genetic evidence:
Several autosomal DNA analyses have shown that Indians are predominantly West-Eurasian. But there are also other evidences based on distinct DNA lineages SNPs, HLA lineages and immunoglobulin genome.
The Japanese geneticist Hideo Matsumoto (2009), analyesd the immunoglobulin genome of world wide populations. He concluded that populations in India and nearby regions are basically West-Eurasian (he use the term “Caucasoid”), while some show evidence of admixture in varying degrees among certain groups.
A study Raghavan and Bulbeck et al. 2013 analysed genetic and anthropologic data and confirmed a close link to other West-Eurasian populations. Nevertheless, they note that certain groups have either South-Eurasian or East-Eurasian influences (on their maternal side).
A study by Mondal et al. 2017 concluded that average Indians are most closely related to southern Europeans and people in the Levant (Middle East).
Yelmen et al. 2019 found that Northwest Indians lack any Andamanese-related ancestry.
Reich 2019, as well as Narasimhan et al. 2019 and Shinde et al. 2019 suggest that West-Eurasian ancestry was present long before the advent of farming in South Asia and that agriculture envolved natively in South Asia. The evidence suggest that West-Eurasian ancestry was already commonly found 40,000 years ago, and that the AASI were rather heterogenous (as mention in the beginning).
Indians originated predominantly from West-Eurasian populations, which were partially already present in India more than 40,000 years ago. Additionally there is some local hunter-gatherer ancestry on the maternal side of Indians.
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