How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate

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New DNA evidence is solving the most sought after question in Indian history. Did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus valley civilization came to an end.

Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer.

This is diametrically opposite to the dominant narrative that has completely disapproved the Aryan migration theory. But new data on Y-chromosomes (chromosomes that are transmitted through the male parental line, from father to son) has shattered this narrative.

New data and the lines of decent:

  • Until recently, only data on mtDNA (or matrilineal DNA, transmitted only from mother to daughter) were available and that seemed to suggest there was little external infusion into the Indian gene pool
  • New Y-DNA data has turned that conclusion upside down, with strong evidence of external infusion of genes into the Indian male lineage during the period

Reason for the difference in mtDNA and Y-DNA data:

  • Consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal social structure that existed in the largely pastoralist early Indo-European society, whatever genetic influx we had from Central Asia was strongly male-driven,
  • hose who migrated were predominantly male and therefore gene flows do not really show up in the mtDNA data
  • In recent studies about 17.5% of Indian male lineage has been found to belong to haplogroup R1a (haplogroups identify with a single line of descent)
  • Today this is spread across Central Asia, Europe and South Asia

What the study concludes:

We are a multi-source civilization and not a single-source one which draws its cultural impulses, its tradition and practices from a variety of lineages and migration histories.

  • The fearless explorers who discovered this land originally and settled in it
  • Those that arrived later with a package of farming techniques and built the Indus Valley civilization and whose cultural ideas and practices have enriched our traditions today
  • Those who arrived from East Asia, probably bringing with them the practice of rice cultivation
  • People that came later with a language called Sanskrit and its associated beliefs and practices and reshaped our society in various ways
  • Those who came even later for trade or for conquest and chose to stay

All have mingled and contributed to this civilization we call Indian and thus we are all migrants.

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