RSS chief uses myths debunked to maintain dangerous ‘purebred’ fantasy
Mohan Bhagwat speaking on the founding day of RSS, 2019. Photo: PTI
- “For over 40,000 years the DNA of everyone in India has been the same… I’m not kidding,” Mohan Bhagwat said at an event on December 19.
- However, there is unequivocal DNA evidence to refute the RSS leader’s claim that Indian DNA has been the same for 40,000 years.
- In fact, there is no living person in the world whose DNA profile exactly matches that of anyone who lived up to 40,000 years ago.
“For over 40,000 years, the DNA of everyone in India has been the same … I’m not kidding,” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said at an event in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh , according to ANI.
This statement is so false that it would be safe to say that we have so far not found a single living person, not just in India but anywhere in the world, whose DNA profile is exactly the same as that carried by anyone who has lived 40,000 years. There are!
Indeed, all human populations existing today are the result of a mixture of earlier population groups, which were themselves mixtures of even more ancestral population groups. The idea that there are “pure” racial groups that have refrained from mingling with other groups is factually wrong and disturbing in its implications as it recalls earlier historical examples where baseless claims of “purity” of race ”were used as grounds for violence and discrimination.
Take the case of the Harappan individual from Rakhigarhi, dated to around 2,600 BC. A study based on analysis of this female DNA, published in 2019, said Rakhigarhi’s sample did not have Eurasian Steppe ancestry. Significantly, the report also indicated that Steppe ancestry was “ubiquitous” – that is, “present almost everywhere” – today in India.
In other words, there are very few Indians living today whose DNA matches that of the person Rakhigarhi who lived roughly 4,600 years ago – let alone those who lived there. 40,000 years ago.
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Most of the population groups in the world today are the result of four classes of mass migrations that have occurred in history, as I detail in my book, The first Indians. These are migrations that have lasted for centuries and were motivated by historical forces.
First, the “out of Africa” migrations that began about 70,000 years ago and have populated the whole world, the Americas being the last continent to be populated between 16,000 and 30,000 years ago. These were pushed by climatic forces.
The second class of migrations began when certain groups of modern humans took to agriculture in places such as Mesopotamia, India, Egypt and China, causing population explosions and, consequently, migrations that lasted for centuries.
The third class of migrations began when a group of modern humans in the steppes of Central Asia mastered the arts of cart-making, metallurgy, and horseback riding and spread across Eurasia. between 3000 and 1500 BC.
The last and fourth class of migrations that reshaped global demography began in recent centuries when another group of modern humans in Europe discovered how to travel vast distances over seas and colonize new regions.
In the case of India, the last class of migration – the colonial one – did not have a big impact on demography because the number of colonial migrants who came to India was too low compared to the existing population. But the other three migrations shaped India’s demographics, starting with the “out of Africa” migrations, which reached the subcontinent some 65,000 years ago.
There have been two agriculture-related migrations that impacted Indian demographics, one from the west and one from the east. Western migrations began to affect India after a mixed population of early Indians and a population linked to the early Iranian farmers sparked an agricultural revolution in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent around 9,000 years ago. , causing a population explosion. The eastward migration occurred around 4,000 years ago, when the end of a population movement that began as a result of China’s arrival in agriculture reached India, bringing with it the Austro-Asiatic languages.
The migrations from the Eurasian steppes that brought the Indo-European languages to India occurred between 2000 and 1500 BC.
Around 1500 BC. Seen, this left almost no population group in India untouched no matter how remote it is.
And genetic studies show that this mixing did not end until around AD 100, when the practice of inbreeding – people marrying within their own communities – took hold. Inbreeding is often seen as a distinguishing feature of the caste system.
What would be correct to say today is that almost all population groups in India bear the imprint of these four great migrations to varying degrees, although there are a handful of population groups in the south. from India who do not carry Steppe ancestry.
Overall, one could say the following things. First, almost all Indian population groups have their greatest share of Early Indian ancestry, no matter where they are in the caste hierarchy, what language they speak, what region they inhabit, or what religion they follow. Second, North and West Indians are likely to have more West Eurasian ancestry, East Indians are likely to have more East Asian ancestry, and South Indians are likely to have more East Asian ancestry. have more Indian ancestry. Third, there is no Indian population that is unmixed – just as there is no modern human population group in the world that is unmixed.
Therefore, it is incorrect to say that for over 40,000 years the DNA of everyone in India has been the same.
Tony Joseph is the author of The First Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Come From.