Independent origins of Indian tribal paternal lineages

Richard CordauxRobert AungerGillian BentleyIvane NasidzeS M SirajuddinMark Stoneking

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

The origins of the nearly one billion people inhabiting the Indian subcontinent and following the customs of the Hindu caste system are controversial: are they largely derived from Indian local populations (i.e. tribal groups) or from recent immigrants to India? Archaeological and linguistic evidence support the latter hypothesis, whereas recent genetic data seem to favor the former hypothesis. Here, we analyze the most extensive dataset of Indian caste and tribal Y chromosomes to date. We find that caste and tribal groups differ significantly in their haplogroup frequency distributions; caste groups are homogeneous for Y chromosome variation and more closely related to each other and to central Asian groups than to Indian tribal or any other Eurasian groups. 

We conclude that paternal lineages of Indian caste groups are primarily descended from Indo-European speakers who migrated from central Asia approximately 3,500 years ago. Conversely, paternal lineages of tribal groups are predominantly derived from the original Indian gene pool. We also provide evidence for bidirectional male gene flow between caste and tribal groups. In comparison, caste and tribal groups are homogeneous with respect to mitochondrial DNA variation, which may reflect the sociocultural characteristics of the Indian caste society.

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Sacred groves foster a sense of togetherness and harmony: Protecting nature in and beyond India’s tribal communities – Kerala & Karnataka


by Dr S.M. Nair

Living in harmony with Nature has been an integral part of Indian culture. This has been abundantly reflected in a variety of traditional practices, religious beliefs, rituals, folklore, arts and crafts, and in the daily lives of the Indian people from time immemorial. The present day global concerns for sustainable development and conservation of natural resources spanning the two decades between the Stockholm Conference of Environment in 1992 and the United Nations Conference on Human Environment and Development (Earth Summit) at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 are of recent origin in comparison to the long tradition and cultural ethos of nature conservation in India.

Virtually all the countries of the world have rich traditions embedded in the ethics of protecting nature. Many ancient cultures tell us how communities lived in harmony with nature, with a tradition of reverence for the elements that constitute ecosytems, drawing their sustenance from natural resources and at the same time protecting the environment that sustains them. Modern man tends to look down upon indigenous people as primitive, backward and superstitious. They may be poor, illiterate, and disadvantaged in many other ways, but they have a tremendous understanding of ecosystems and the factors that sustain them.[…]

The worship of Mother Earth is a universal phenomenon in many indigenous cultures. There are innumerable examples of festivals, rituals, songs, and myths that celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth all over the world, revealing the intimate sense of togetherness and harmony that exists between man and nature in tribal societies. […]

One of the finest examples of traditional practices in India based on religious faith which has made a profound contribution to nature conservation has been the maintenance of certain patches of land or forests as “sacred groves” dedicated to a deity or a village God, protected, and worshipped. These are found all over India, and abundantly along the Western Ghats, the west coast, and in several parts of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu amd Maharashtra. In Kerala there are hundreds of small jungles dedicated to snakes (Sarpakavu, Sarpa meaning snake, kavu meaning jungle). There are also Ayyappan kavus dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, the most famous of which, visited by millions of devotees every year, being the sacred hill of Sabarimala with an Ayyappan temple.

According to Madhav Gadgil (1985):

“Sacred groves ranged in extent from fifty hectares or more to a few hundred square metres. Where the network of sacred groves has remained intact till recent times, as in the South Kanara district of the west coast, one can see that they formed island of climax vegetation at densities of 2 to 3 per. sq. km, ranging in size from a small clump to a hectare or more, and originally covering perhaps 5 per cent of the land area. This must have been a very effective way of preserving tropical biological diversity, for we are still discovering new species of plants which have disappeared from everywhere else, in these sacred groves.”

In spite of the depletion of forests in many parts of India, some sacred groves still remain intact as oases in deserts, conserving rich biological diversity. The maintenance of sacred groves can thus he considered to be an outstanding example of a traditional practice that has contributed to forest conservation, albeit in a small measure. There are also examples of sacred ponds attached to temples in many parts of India. Some of these have been responsible for the protection of certain endangered species of turtles, crocodiles, and the rare fresh water sponge. […]

In a developing country attempting to achieve rapid economic growth, there are often tensions between the claims of environmental protection and those of development. That environmental conservation cannot be isolated from the general issues of development and must be viewed as an integral part of it, and an essential prerequisite for sustainable development, is being increasingly understood today. Conscious efforts are now being made to integrate environmental concerns into policies and programmes relating to economic development. It is at this juncture that we should look back upon our rich tradition of living in harmony with nature, which over the years have been overshadowed by the Western utilitarian approach to scientific and technological developments.

Madhav Gadgil and Romila Thapar (1990) focus our attention to our traditional relationship with nature when they say:
India obviously needs a new strategy of resource use and a new common belief system to hold the society together and put this strategy into operation. The present strategy of resource-use intensification, leading to increasing levels of outflows from the countryside to the urban-industrial sector, which is heavily subsidized by the state, and from the country as a whole to the developed world, and the belief system centred on development and national prestige, which has replaced the unifying theme of a national struggle against the British, have proved inadequate. The new strategy has to be grounded in efficient, sustainable use of resources and supported by a belief system based on respect for the natural endowments ofthe country. There are welcome signs that such a strategy and such a belief system are beginning to emerge, although not enough has happened in tenus of concrete action. What does ultimately happen will depend critically on how far society recognizes the real power of those whose well-being is organically linked to the health of the resource base of the country the peasants, the tribal peoples and the nomads“.

Dr S.M. Nair. former Director of the National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi, is an eminent museologist with an international reputation. He has a Masters degree in Zoology, and a Doctorate in Museology, and has served on the faculty of the departments of Museology at the M.S. University, Baroda, and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. He is the recipient of the Rockefeller III Fund Fellowship, the Homi Bhabha Fellowship, and the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship in the field of Museology. His major area of specialization and expertise is in the organization of natural history museums, environmental education, and the spread of conservation awareness. He has been Vice-Chairman of the International Committee of Natural History Museums, International Council of Museums, and edited the journal. “Studies in Museology”. Widely travelled both in India and abroad, he is the architect of the first National Museum of Natural History in India and the guiding force behind its exhibit programmes, educational activities, and popular publications.

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Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT)

The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) is one of the premier institutions working in the field of linking education with culture. Established in 1979, pioneered by Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, it functions as an autonomous organization under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government of India. At the philosophical core of the CCRT lies a commitment to holistic education, encompassing the cognitive, emotional and spiritual development of children. To this end the CCRT conducts education grounded in cultural knowledge and understanding as conducive to clarity, creativity, independence of thought, tolerance and compassion. […]

Source: Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT)
Date Visited: Fri Sep 16 2016 09:56:33 GMT+0200 (CEST)

A Passionate Life: Writings by and on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay

Edited by Ellen Carol Dubois and Vinay Lal | Zubaan | Rs 995 | 483 pages
Gloria Steinem 07 April 2017 | Read the full review >>

Despite the modern obsession with factories, mines and airlines in a newly independent India, [Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay] pointed out that for millions of villagers […] handicrafts were a source of income and pride. Not only did such skills provide a livelihood locally, but they could become a unique global export. After all, other countries had factories, mines and airlines. India had millions—especially, but not only, female millions—who were experts in handicrafts that went far beyond Gandhi’s spinning wheel. […]

Gloria Steinem is a leading feminist writer

Accessed: 23 March 2018

Reading Room

CCRT’s mandate is to compile/ provide cultural resources to teachers, trainers, children, lay public etc. The section on Reading Room has made a beginning by randomly selecting articles on areas of India’s diverse culture.

Source: Reading Room
Date Visited: Fri Sep 16 2016 09:58:02 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel Part I


The report embodies among other things (i) categorization of the Western Ghats into three zones of varied ecological sensitivity, based upon careful analysis done by WGEEP, (ii) broad sectoral guidelines for each of these zones, and (iii) a broad framework for establishment of the Western Ghats Ecology Authority. 

In this endeavor, the Panel has utilized the expertise of a number of people and organizations to whom the panel expresses its gratitude. The Panel thanks the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, for giving it this unique opportunity to be part of a very significant initiative directed at conserving the natural heritage of the Western Ghats – a global biodiversity hotspot.

Prof. Madhav Gadgil Chairman Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel


Source: Report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel Part I
Date visited: 16 February 2020

The [flood] disaster in the Western Ghat region is a reminder that the area is very vulnerable, and utmost care must be taken to ensure that the delicate balance between nature and development is not disturbed. For example, reports from Kerala have said that excessive quarrying and wrongly constructed pits for monocultures resulted in landslides. There has been enough warning of such disasters. In 2011, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, also known the Madhav Gadgil Committee, had asked for a ban on mining and quarrying in the eco-sensitive zone. But the Gadgil report was criticised as biased against development, the government constituted another committee, the high-level working group or the Kasturirangan committee, which recommended a reduced zone of protection. […]

Kerala is a good role model to follow. Learning from last year’s floods, this year the government has set up camps that are well stocked with food, water, and medical facilities. For climate-sensitive governance, states must invest in climate-resilient infrastructure, build a cadre of skilled personnel at community levels, and also teach the people how to live sustainably and tackle climate-related climate emergencies.

Source: Editorial, Hindustani Times, 26 August 2019
Date visited: 16 February 2020

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Kansari (Kunkna) – A story from Gujarat

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Source: Adivasi Stories from Gujarat © Bhasha Research and Publication Centre Vadodara 2017 | For more details, free download link and a map presenting language regions of Gujarat, click here >> 

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Learn more about India’s tribal communities – their cultural heritage, current conditions and aspirations – with the help of the links seen below

About the present slideshow by Venkatesh Lakshmanan: Kota dance and music >>

Posted in Anthropology, Crafts and visual arts, Cultural heritage, Customs, Endangered language, Ethnobotany, Health and nutrition, Languages and linguistic heritage, Museum collections - India, Musicology, Names and communities, Particularly vulnerable tribal group, Regions of India, Tips, Tribal identity, Worship and rituals | Comments Off on Tip | Anthropology and more

Santali translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Vidyasagar-Charit” and “Raktakarabi” – Asiatic Socity & Sahitya Akademi

Santali translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Vidyasagar-Chari
by Dr. Boro Baski (Asiatic Society)

Release of Rabindranath Tagore’s Vidyasagar-Charit into Santali at the Kolkata Book Fair: 2nd February 2020 (Stall no. F-15)

The Santali translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Raktakarabi by Dr. Boro Baski was published by the Sahitya Akademi ( in 2016.

Santali translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Raktakarabi
by Dr. Boro Baski (Sahitya Akademi)

Free copies are available from

More about the play

Kathleen M. O’Connell [excerpt from the review of the English translation titled “Red Oleanders” by Nupur Gangopadhyay Lahiri] | Read the full review here >>

Red Oleanders (Raktakarabi) is one of the more than sixty plays, dance dramas and dramatic sketches by Asia’s first Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The play, written in 1923-24, was begun during a visit to Shillong, Assam, and inspired by the image of a red oleander plant crushed by pieces of discarded iron that Tagore had come across while walking. […] 

The first English version Red Oleanders was done by Tagore himself (with perhaps some assistance from Kshitish Chandra Sen) and published by Macmillan, London, in 1925. The reviews that followed were less than enthusiastic with criticism of obscurantism . Tagore argued that the play’s theme involving unscrupulous capitalism, environmental exploitation and the importance of human relationships was not an obscure one. […]

In 1987, Ananda Lal published a translation of three plays by Tagore, including Red Oleanders, which was a welcome addition to making Tagore’s works accessible in English.  Lal’s work represented a faithful recreation of the original work, and it also included pertinent scholarship on the history and context of the plays.  His translation of Red Oleanders was finally staged in 2006 at Camden Peoples Theatre in England. […]

Uma Dasgupta [excerpt from the review of the English translation titled “Red Oleanders” by Nupur Gangopadhyay Lahiri] | Read the full review here >>

Tagore wanted the play to be an expression of that truth “to which we are so accustomed that we have forgotten all about it”. He did not construe it to be a sermon or a moral. Simply put, it is a play about evil and good, working side by side, about greed and human sympathy, about that which separates fellow beings and that which keeps us together.

Source: “Red Oleanders by Tagore (tr. by Nupur Gangopadhayy Lahiri)–two reviews by Kathleen M. O’Connell, and Uma Dasgupta
Date Visited: Tue Jul 05 2016 13:35:48 GMT+0200 (CEST)



Publications on the above issues may be found here (title descriptions and libraries):

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Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

More posts contributed by Dr. Boro Baski >>

For inquiries on Santal cultural and educational programs, please contact
Dr. Boro Baski
M: 094323 57160

Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust
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P.O. Sattore, Dist. Birbhum
West Bengal-731 236

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Posted in Commentary, Ecology and environment, Economy and development, Government of India, Languages and linguistic heritage, Literature and bibliographies, Modernity, Names and communities, Organizations, Resources, Storytelling, Tagore and rural culture | Tagged | Comments Off on Santali translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Vidyasagar-Charit” and “Raktakarabi” – Asiatic Socity & Sahitya Akademi