Higher caste Indians may have come from Europe
Hyderabad, May 15: New genetic studies have revealed that the higher ranking castes in India may have come from Europe.
According to a study in this month's Genome research Journal, scientists said that while India's higher ranking castes are genetically more similar to Europeans, the lower castes are more similar to Asians.
The study, done by an international team led by Michael Bamshad (University of Utah), is believed to be the most comprehensive attempt so far to explore the impact of ancient western migrations on people in India.
According to the study, the origins of people living in India are under debate. Some 5000 years ago, Indo-European speaking people from West Eurasia entered India and purportedly mixed with native Proto-Asian population in the region.
Historians believe these West Eurasian immigrants established the present Hindu caste system, while appointing themselves to higher rank castes.
Since inter-caste marriage was a taboo, the genetic material has been intact for quite a long some time. In this scenario, members of higher rank castes have shown closer genetic relationship to Europeans than lower rank castes.
The study compares maternally inherited DNA variations, paternally inherited variations, and bi-parentally inherited variations between 265 Indian males of different castes and 750 African, European, Asian and other Indian males.
The detailed comparison revealed that genetic similarities between Indians and Europeans tend to increase with caste rank.
The scientists found different trends when comparing maternally inherited variations and paternally inherited variations. Maternally inherited DNA in Indian populations was overall more similar to Asians than to Europeans, though similarity to Europeans increased with rank.
Paternally inherited DNA, on the other hand, was overall more similar to Europeans than to Asians.
These results support the notion that the West Eurasian immigrants mixing with native populations were mostly male, and that they tended to insert themselves into high ranking positions in the developing Hindu Indian caste system. (PTI)