Caste in India not older than 2300 yrs

Caste in India not older than 2300 yrs

North-South people mix up 1900-4200 years ago: CCMB study Perhaps for the first time, the content with regard to prevalence of caste system and...

North-South people mix up 1900-4200 years ago: CCMB study

Perhaps for the first time, the content with regard to prevalence of caste system and mingling of population in India- in our ancient texts including the Rig Veda was scientifically proved by a team of scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and the Harvard Medical School. The path-breaking study postulated that the people across all regions of India mated and lived as partners freely without caste, creed and ethnic barriers until endogamic rules were enforced.

The study, according to some of the members of the team, indicated astounding level of population admixture. There were no upper or lower castes and even among the tribes, there were absolutely no differences, at least before 2300 years. Experts and pundits admit that there was no mention of caste system in Rig Veda, considered the oldest text in India, which said there was free social movement of people. There was slight mention of regrouping of people on the basis of their occupation in Rig Veda but it was said to have been composed later. The Manu Smriti first mentioned about caste system.

In the significant study which shed light mostly on the population amalgamation, scientists have proved that the Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI) had occurred 1900-4200 years ago. The caste system that is prevalent in India today is not older than 2300 years. Senior Principal Scientist of CCMB, Dr K Kumarasamy Thangaraj who led the team of scientists informed that the findings were published on August 8 in the American Journal of Human Genetics,

The team has studied about one million genetic markers of 571 people from 73 ethno-linguistic groups- predominantly Dravidian and Indo-European speakers. Scientists isolated DNA from blood samples, looked at changes in the DNA and compared it with different populations to estimate the age of the ANI-ASI mixture.

“Only a few thousand years ago, the Indian population structure was vastly different from today,” co–senior author David Reich, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School explained. “The caste system has been around for a long time, but not forever.” He further said, “Prior to about 4000 years ago there was no mixture. After that, widespread mixture affected almost every group in India, even the most isolated tribal groups. And finally, endogamy set in and froze everything in place.”

Concurring with this findings, Dr Lalji Singh, co-senior author and currently of BHU, Varanasi, said- “The fact that every population in India evolved from randomly mixed populations suggests that social classifications like the caste system are not likely to have existed in the same way before the mixture. Thus, the present-day structure of the caste system came into being only relatively recently in Indian history.”

While the findings show that no groups in India are free of such mixture, the researchers did identify a geographic element. “Groups in the north tend to have more recent dates and southern groups have older dates,” said co-first author Priya Moorjani, a graduate student in Reich’s lab at Harvard Medical School. “This is likely because the northern groups have multiple mixtures.”

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