The world will be of mixed race one day
Ever since I was a teenager I have marveled at the myriad colours that we Indians come in. So why is this? Why do we come in so many different colours and shades? The obvious answer is that we are a mix of different races…uh oh. I have used the wrong word. From this wiki article I came to know that the government frowns upon this idea. For some reason the government of India does not want us to know that India comprises of people of different races.
After the independence, in pursuance of the Government’s policy to discourage community distinctions based on race, the 1951 Census of India did away with racial classifications. The national Census of independent India does not recognize any racial groups in India. In India, “Dravidian”, “Indo-Aryan”, and similar words are generally considered as linguistic terms, rather than ethnic terms.
Well, we do know how keen the Indian government is to reduce any type of caste, racial and linguistic tensions. That is why the Indian government has tried so hard to unify India with one language (Hindi) believing that once people are brainwashed into believing that they are of one race and partake of one language, then they will feel ‘Indian.’ That this strategy hasn’t worked is evident today. In any case, why suppress the truth? How long can you put your head in the sand and pretend that we don’t belong to different races? If we are politically united today it is despite being of different ethnic origins, cultures, religions and languages. So let us make peace with the fact that we are different.
So what exactly are these races that Indians comprise of? Well, there is this theory of the Aryan invasion into North India eons back. But I won’t delve into this as there are those who claim that the Aryan Invasion theory is hogwash…but frankly this post is not about whether the Aryan Invasion theory is true or not as it is too complex a subject for me to tackle. Nor do I want to talk about the definitions of the various races in India. There is no authentic source for this and there isn’t enough research on the subject. Also I am a layman and therefore cannot offer an expert opinion. So what is this post about then?
Well, it is about some DNA tests that were carried out by a particular group…a Maharashtrian community called Konkanastha (Chitpavan) Brahmins. I am not a member of this community but I do know people of this community. I have always been intrigued as to their origin as these people are almost white and many of them have light tan or blue-green eyes. My nephew has these too, because his grandfather (from my sister-in-law’s side) has deep green eyes. Recently a German visitor to their home was surprised to see him and wanted to know whether he had European ancestry. But ofcourse this was not the case, my nephew is 100 percent Indian. That is what most people of the Konkansth Brahmin community will tell you. That they have no foreign blood. That they have no white ancestors. There is no evidence of any foreign ancestor. However, from the wiki I got this:
From the maternal DNA it appears that Konkanasthas (also known as Chitpavan Brahmins) have Central Asian and European DNA in their gene pool. On the paternal side they share genes with North Indians, Central Asians, and East Europeans.
Interesting isn’t it. We all know that some North Indians too share the fairer skin and sharper features of the Caucasian race. The wiki goes on to say that:
the presence of a deep common ancestry between the genes of those in the southern and western regions and northern regions remains a puzzle.
Many Kokanasthas themselves believe it is a big puzzle. There is this site on Konkanstha Brahmins and they too feel it is a mystery:
The explanation of the physical characteristics which are distinctly Caucasian…is lost in the mist of times gone by.
Is it really such a big mystery? Another site on Konkansthas seems to have the answers. This group of people have carried out DNA tests on the community. They say:
Chitpavan-brahmin share ancestry with conspicuously European-looking Pagan or Alpine group, who under religious pressure had migrated from Anatolian Turkey or East Europe to the Gujarat coast probably via sea-vessel. Besides, their (Konkanasthas) documented history is untraceable beyond 1000 years, further indicating that they were not part of the original Vedic migrations (early Indo-European)…
In other words this means that a group of East Europeans are responsible for the genes in the Konkanstha community. This migration was fairly recent (according to the genome analyses) and the theory is that they landed up in India via the trade route to Gujarat. This group of foreigners then migrated to India’s western coast and then moved further south to the Konkan region and made it their home.
Interestingly, the fair-skinned green-eyed Aishwarya Rai is from the Bunt community from the coastal regions of western Karnakata. It is entirely possible that migrants from Europe went further south along the coast and populated those areas as well. In fact a serious study as to the genetic orgin of the Bunts is under way and perhaps we will get more answers then.
Ofcourse it is also possible that the Portuguese who ruled various parts of India, like Daman and Goa or the French who ruled parts of South India or the British left their genes somewhere in the Indian gene pool. But the fact is that they never really became Indians and therefore it is unlikely that their genes made a significant mark here. More important, if these invaders had intermarried (which they did) with the locals their genes would only run in families, not whole communities. And there are large communities in India which share common ancestry with Caucasians. And these communities are Hindu. These people are deeply entrenched in Indian soil and cannot think of themselves as having any foreign ancestor.
The difference between say the Konkanastha community and the Parsis is worth mulling over. Everyone knows the history of the Parsis, that they migrated from Iran to escape religious persecution but the fact that they kept their religion made them distinct from the rest of India. They were proud Zoroastrians although they adopted the local language, dress and culture (of Gujarat).
India is a melting pot of different genes. There are also indications (and controversies) that groups of Africans migrated to certain locations in South India and intermarried with the locals. We Indians are a mix of many different races.
This mixing is inevitable as we are all of one nationality and we all live together. But even though we know that various races live inside of us, we don’t think about it much. Nor do we know for sure which genes we carry. For some reason our origins are shrouded in mystery and because of the caste tensions people seem hesitant to talk of race and caste. Well, whether we want to know the truth or not, the truth is that we Indians are not of one race.
In a foreign country, it is easy to know if you are a mixed race person and no one hesitates to talk about it. It is interesting to note that in Britain the ‘Mixed races’ are UK’s fastest-growing ethnic group. Due to Britain’s migration policies people of different races settled there years ago and as a result the population profile is changing rapidly.
On current trends, mixed-race babies will soon outnumber those born to black couples in Britain. The last census showed that people of mixed race make up the third-largest minority group behind Indians and Pakistanis. But with half of them aged 16 or younger, they are the fastest growing. In time, people of mixed race will become Britain’s largest ethnic minority.
A time will come when it will become rare to find anyone of purely of one race. India is a prime example of this melting pot which has been churning for thousands of years. Today, if you take the example of the Konkanasthas it will be difficult to find a pure specimen under the age of 25 (going back say over 6-7 generations). Their genes are rapidly merging into the larger pool of the Indian population, not just Maharashtrians. Those who have migrated abroad are mixing their genes with another lot…in another thousand years who knows what will happen. If there will be anyone left who is pure anything.
That is the future of the world.
(Collage is by me and all photos in the collage are by me except the Aishwarya Rai picture, which is from the Ashfanclub)