Short essay on The Racial Classification of Indian People

The racial classification of Indian people was attempted first by Sir Herbert Risely and findings published in a book 'The Peoples of India' in the year 1915.

He divided the entire population into three basic racial groups with seven sub-types but did not put the aboriginals or tribal people into any separate racial groups. The basic types are:

1. The Dravidians

2. The Indo-Aryans

3. The Mongoloids

Latest attempt at racial classification of Indian people has been made by Hutton, Guha and Majumdar. They list six main races with nine sub-types:

1. The Negrito

2. The Proto-Australoid

3. The Mongoloid

(i) Palaeo-Mongoloids

(a) long headed, (b) broad headed

4. Mediterranean

(i) Palaeo-Mediterranean, (ii) Mediterranean, (iii) Oriental

5. Western Brachycephals

(i) Alpinoids, (ii) Dinaric, (iii) Artnenoid

6. Nordics

(1) Negrito.

The Negrito or the brachycephalic (broad headed) from Africa were the earliest people to inhabit India. They are survived in their original habitat in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Jarawas, Onges, Sentelenese and Great Andamani tribes are the examples. Studies have indicated that the Onges tribes have been living in the Andamans for the last 60,000 years. Some hilly tribes like Irulas, Kodars, Paniyans and Kurumbas are found only in patches among the hills of South India on the mainland.

(2) Proto-Australoids or Austrics.

This group was the next to come to India after the Negritos. They represent a race of people with wavy hair plentifully distributed over their brown bodies, long heads with low foreheads and prominent eye ridges, noses with low and broad roots, thick jaws, large palates and teeth and small chins.

Austrics tribes, which are spread over whole of India, Myanmar and the islands of South East Asia, are said to "form the bedrock of the people". The Austrics were the main builders of the Indus Valley Civilizations.

They cultivated rice and vegetables and made sugar from sugarcane. Their language has survived in the Kol or Munda (Mundari) in Eastern and Central India.

(3) Mongoloids.

These people have features that are common to those of the people of Mongolia, China and Tibet. These tribal groups are located in the North- Eastern part of India in states like Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya as also in Ladakh and Sikkim. Generally, they are people of yellow complexion, oblique eyes, high cheekbones, sparse hair and medium height.

(4) Mediterranean or Dravidian.

This group came to India from the South-West Asia and appears to be the people of the same stock as the people of Asia Minor and Crete and the pre- Hellenic Aegeans of Greece. They are reputed to have built the city civilization of the Indus Valley, whose remains have been found at Mohenjodaro and Harappa and other Indus Valley cities.

The Dravidians must have spread to the whole of India, supplanting Austrics and Negritos alike. Dravidians comprise all the three sub-types, Palaeo-Mediterranean, the true Mediterranean and Oriental Mediterranean.

Palaeo-Mediterranean group constitutes the bulk of the Scheduled Castes in the North India. This group has a sub-type called Oriental group.

(5) Western Brachycephals.

These include the Alpinoids, Dinarics and Armenois. The Coorgis and Parsis fall into this category.

(6) Nordics.

Nordics or Indo-Aryans are the last immigrants into India. Nordic Aryans were a branch of Indo-Iranians, who had originally left their homes in Central Asia, some 5000 years ago, and had settled in Mesopotamia for some centuries.

The Aryans must have come into India between 2000 and 1500 B.C. Their first home in India was western and northern Punjab, from where r' y spread to the Valley of the Ganga and beyond.

These tribes are now mainly found in the North West and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Many of these tribes belong to the "upper castes".

The ancestry of the present tribal population of India is traced chiefly to the first three types:

The Negrito, the Proto-Australoid and the Mongoloid.