The Racial Situation in India – Essay

H.H. Risely recognized three principal types in India, viz., the Dravidian, the Indo-Aryan and the Mongolian.

The first two were mixed, in varying proportions in the different provinces (now states), with each other and with the Mongolian elements while the third was confined to the north-east frontier and Assam. Risley’s ‘Dravidian’ like the ‘Aryan’ is a linguistic group and not racial and at least three races have been found to constitute it.

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If Majumdar’s comments on Risley’s racial types are analyzed, it means that India has Dravidian and Indo-Aryan strains in all the states except north-east including Assam. In this part of the country the Mongolian racial type is found. In practice, these racial strains are lin­guistic strains. Majumdar further analyzes the race elements in the country and refers to A.C. Haddon.

Challenging Risley’s racial classification Haddon says that in the country we had various pre-Dravidian jungle tribes.

Accordingly, it could be said that “the Dravidians may have been the original inhabi­tants of the valley of the Ganges in western Bengal after many wanderings, apparently across India, they settled mainly in Chhota Nagpur.” Thus, according to Haddon, the tribal groups who lived in India were Dravidians.

The second racial wave comes through the Aryan-speaking people. They migrated into India in the second millennium BC. Their infiltra­tion was slow and gradual and probably extended over several centuries.

“They first occupied the fertile lands of the Punjab, their progress towards south-east being barred by the deserts of Rajputana.” They could not move towards the east.

There were dense forests in the north-east and Assam. Thus, the people having Aryan racial ele­ments remained restricted to the valleys of the Yamuna and the Ganges. It appears that in the south the Dravidians occupied a major portion of the land.

After Risley and Haddon, J.H. Hutton made a significant study of the racial composition of India. According to him, the earliest occu­pants of India were probably the people who belonged to the Negrito race. There are, however, little traces of the Negrito type in India. The second wave that came to India was from the Mediterranean region.

They spoke an agglutinative tongue from which the present Austro- Asiatic languages are derived. At a later stage, a new wave of migrants arrived in India. They were probably connected with the Indus Valley Civilization.

It is really very difficult to trace racial elements in Indian popula­tion. It is said that the basic sub-stratum in India is of the Negrito people. They have been replaced or supplanted by the proto-Aus- traloids. It appears that the Negrito is domiciled in southern Asia.

But, judging from the tribal populations in India today, there is certainly no weighty evidence in support of a Negrito racial stock in India. However, Majumdar says that Negroid features are found particularly among the Bhils of Ratanpur in Rajpipla district of Gujarat. Here, a colony of Negroes has been domiciled for centuries, mixing with the Bhils and other tribal elements.

When we discuss the racial types in India, there are some special historical and geographical factors which must be kept in mind. India is such a subcontinent which has received waves of migrants from the West as well as from the East.

There might have been some Negritos in the part of the country but the fact remains that India has broadly Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Mongolian strains among its people. The identity of these racial types is based on their racial characteristics.