THE ETHNIC, LINGUISTIC
COMPOSITION OF INDIA
MIGRATION OF FIRST HUMAN
OUT OF AFRICA
The first migration out of East Africa took place
about 85,000 years ago. Researches on the tribes of
Andaman and Nicobar islands using complete
mitochondrial DNA sequences has revealed that
the first humans took the ‚southern coastal route‛
of migration from East Africa to India where they
expanded rapidly along the west coast of India.
(National Geographic, Stephen Oppenheimer, 2006)
Thus India is believed to have acted ‚as an
incubator of early genetic differentiation of
modern humans moving out of Africa.‛ (Michel
JOURNEY OF MANKIND
See, The Peopling of the World:
http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/journey by Bradshaw
WORLD’S RACES ACCORDING
TO EARLY THEORIES
World’s three major races today are Negroid,
Caucasoid and Mongoloid.
The Australoid or Oceanian race remains only in a
few pockets in South Asia(Boyd, 1963).
Numerous genetic studies of Indian populations
have shown divergent conclusions about roots of
ethnicity and races because the Indian region
happens to be one of the most diverse and
complex in the world, which makes it difficult to
interpret the data.
MOST ETHNICALLY DIVERSE
India can be considered the most ethnically diverse countries
in the world. Nowhere in the world, groups of people are
distributed in such a large number of:
Numerous theories have suggested that several
waves of immigrants at different periods of
entered into the ethnic composition of India
since 4th century BC.
THE LIST OF VARIOUS CLASSIFICATIONS
THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN ON THE PEOPLE
OF INDIA BY DIFFERENT RESEARCHERS
IS AS FOLLOWS
Risley’s Classification (1915)
3. Haddon’s Classification
4. Eickstedt’s Classification
5. Guha’s Classification
Roy’s Classification (1934-38)
7. Sarkar’s Classification
8. Biasutti’s Classification (1959)
9. Roginskij and Levin’s
10. Büchi’s Classification (1968)
11. Bowles’s Classification (1977)
Modern anthropologists classify Indians as
belonging to all of the four major ethnoracial groups of the world: Negritos,
Australoids, Caucasoids, Mongoloids (Basu,
et al 2006).
Many theorists believe that there is no race
such as Dravidians or Aryans. They
categorize Indians as Caucasians, where
Caucasians ≠ "white" people.
Of the many ethnic groups found, FIVE categories
emerge as the most unanimously agreed upon:
1. Negroids: The earliest to come to India from Africa.
Their original habitat was in the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands, in which they have survived till
today. They are the Jarawas or the Great Andamanese.
Some hill tribes can be found in south India.
2. Proto Astraloids or Australoids: They were the
original inhabitants of India. Guha (1937), Basu et al
(2006), Bhasin (2012).
Some others say that came next from Myanmar South
East Asian islands. Originally they had spread out
over north and south. Australoid tribals currently live
in pockets in central and south India.
3. Dravidians: The 20th century anthropologists
like, Carleton S. Coon classified them as the
slender, dark-skinned Caucasoids who came
before the Aryans from the Paleo-Mediterranean
region and Asia Minor and Crete . They are
reputed to have built up the civilization of the
Indus valley . Some other studies have shown that
Dravidians have an Australoid racial basis as well
as a Caucasoid influence by the admixture with
4. Mongoloids: Their origin is from China, Tibet
and Mongolia. They are found in north-eastern
parts of India such as Assam, Nagaland,
Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and
Tripura, Northern parts of West Bengal, Sikkim,
5. Nordics or the Indo- Aryans: Considered the last
ones to immigrate to India around 2000 to 1500
B.C. Were the robust Caucasoids, with paler skins
and speaking Indo- European languages. They
came from the Plateau of Iran and moved through
the Hindu Kush Mountains into India.
Indo-Aryan Migration into India, c. 1750 B.C.
H O L T , R I N E HAR T &
WI N D S O R
DRAVIDIAN AND ARYAN
INVASION THEORY DISCREDITED
But recent Genetics studies, using large samples of
Indian population and refined methods of analysis
have shown that the Dravidians are in fact the
descendants of the earliest people who migrated
from Africa and reached South India 70,000- 80,000
years ago. These studies have also discredited the
Aryan Invasion theory.
A path-breaking study done in 2009 by Harvard
Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health
and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and
Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology on
ancestral Indian populations, analyzed 500,000
genetic markers across the genomes of 132
individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states.
The individuals were from six-language families.
Key finding, reported by geneticist David Reich of
Harvard Medical School, who led the team, were:
1. Initial settlement – between 85,000- 75,000 years
ago in the Andamans and south India.
2. All non- African people were descendants from
3. About 45,000- 40,000 years ago, ANIs emerged.
4. 30,000- 25,000 years ago people from the
subcontinent moved to Europe. ‚That’s the
reason behind the same genetic traits in
Eurasiain regions,‛ said Dr Thangaraj, senior
5. Most Indians today are descendants of
two divergent populations: Ancestral North
Indians (ANI) related to Central Asians, Middle
Easterners, Caucasians, and Europeans; and.
Ancestral North Indians probably migrated into
the subcontinent 45000ybp and
6. Ancestral South Indians (ASI) native to the
region and had been there much longer. The
study also showed that these two groups began
to mix at some point in the past, although just
when, is not clear. Estimated ANI-ASI mixture
dates ranging from about 1,900 to 4,200 years
OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS
1. Indo-Scythians: were the Central Asians. Came to
India in 2nd century B.C. Now spread out in
Gujarat, Maharashtra and towards, Mysore and
2. Hepthalites/ White Huns: were nomadic tribes in
3. Gurjara-Pratiharas: They were Caucasians. The
oldest record of these tribes in India date to
around 11th century.
4. Indo-Greeks: descendants of Alexander's armies.
Formed a significant Caucasian family & got
absorbed in the northern castes and tribes. (Bhasin
5. Western Brachycephals: These groups consist of the sub-
groups, (i) Alpinoids (ii) Dinarics and (iii) Armenoids (iv)
Alpinoids came from the Alpine region, and entered Sind,
Kathiawar Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Dinarics came from the Alps mountain region on the border of
Bosnia and Croatia, and followed the Ganga-Valley and its delta
as their route to enter India.
iii. Armenoids/Armenian entered India through Chitral, Gilgit,
Kashmir and Nepal. Known as the "true" Caucasians,
Armenoids were relatively tall, usually with medium to dark
brown or black hair, light to medium skin colour.
iv. Indo-Iranian/Zoroastrians migrated to India in 8th centure B.C
after the rise of Islam in Iran. Zarathushtra's followers.
developed and preserved their culture in India.
CENSUS OF INDIA 2001
Govt of India census recognizes ethnic three ethnic
groups, the Indo Aryans, the Dravidians and the
Mongloids, of which:
The rest constitute scheduled tribes. There are 697
tribes in India according to the Article 342 of the
constitution of India. They are spread out in MP,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand.
Data on ethnicity was not collected in the census of 2011
India displays a high degree of diversity in languages
‚Each decade, a national census attempts to record the
languages spoken by every inhabitant, but interpreting
the results has not been easy. The 2001 census recorded
6,661 ‘mother tongues’ many among these could be the
dialects of these languages.‛ David Graddol, 2010.
In India, schools teach 58 different
languages, newspapers are produced in 87
languages, radio programs broadcast in 71
languages, and films are produced in 15 different
The Indian languages belong to four language
Austro- Asiatic: Considered the oldest. Austrics are a
very old off-shoot of the Mediterranean people who
came into India from the west.
a. Mon-Khmer Branch
b. Munda Branch
Sino-Tibetan: born at least 4000 years before Christ.
a. Tibeto- Himalayan Branch
b. North- Assam Branch
c. Assam- Burmese Branch
Dravidian: Linguistic and anthropological theories
have establihed that Dravidians came from Asia
Minor and the Eastern Mediterranean. Dravidian
languages are spoken in the Deccan and Southern
a. South Dravidian Group
b. Central Dravidian Group
c. North Dravidian Group
Indo- European: With 443 languages, this is the
largest language family in the world. These languages
descended from a common source-speech, the
‚Primitive Indo-European‛, which flourished about
5000 years ago‛ (The Gazetteer of India 1965).
DISTRIBUTION OF LANGUAGES
a. Mon-Khmer: Khasi in Assam, Nicobarese in
b. Munda: Largest of the Austro- Asiatic family.
Mundari speakers are concentrated in the
tribal regions of Chota Nagpur and Central
and Eastern regions of India.
DISTRIBUTION OF LANGUAGES
Sino-Tibetan: with 10 and 6 million speakers,
respectively, together 5% of the population.
a. Tibeto- Himalayan Branch: The area stretches from
Baltistan in the west to the north-eastern.
Languages: Ladakhi, Lahuli, Sikkim Bhotia, Balti.
b. North- Assam Branch: occupies the north-eastern
Languages: Aka/Hrusso, Dalfa, Abor/Adi, Miri, Mishmi
c. Assam- Burmese Branch: Bodo Group, Naga Group,
Kachin Group, Kuki-Chin Group, Burma Group.
Languages: Several languages are spoken by few people,
DISTRIBUTION OF LANGUAGES
Dravidian: Found in blocks in the Deccan and in South
India, where they have their separate existence.
a. South Dravidian Group: Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada,
Coorgi, Tulu, Toda, Kota, Telugu
b. Central Dravidian Group: Kui, Kolami, Gondi , Parji
c. North Dravidian Group: Kuruk, Malto
Unspecified Dravidian Tongues: About 6742 persons of
tribal groups speak unspecified Dravidian tongues. They
live in the eastern and the north-eastern parts of the
peninsular plateau including Gonds of Madhya Pradesh,
Central India andthe Oraons of Chota Nagpur Plateau.
DISTRIBUTION OF LANGUAGES
Indo- European or Indo-Aryan Languages: 700
million speakers, or 69% of the population)The
oldest-known Indo-Aryan languages are Sanskrit,
Northern Group: Punjabi and dialects, Sindhi,
Southern Group: Marathi, Konkani.
Eastern Group: Oriya, Bihari, Bhojpuri, Magadhi,
Bengali, Assamese, Maithali.
Central Group: Hindi, Hindustani, Urdu, Gujarati,
Dardic languages are spoken in the northernmost
parts of India- Kashmir, Sindh
The languages of India according to the proportion of the
population who speak them as a first language (Census
Hindi 41%; Bengali 8%; Telegu 7%; Marathi 7%
Tamil 6% urdu 5%; Gujarati 4%; Kannada 4%, NonScheduled 3%; Malayalam 3%; Oriya 3%; Punjabi 3%
Assamese 1%; Maithili 1%.
Other 2%- Santali 0.63%; Kashmiri 0.54%; Nepali
0.28%, Sindhi 0.25%; Dogri 0.22%; Manipuri 0.15%
Bodo 0.13%; Sanskrit 0.001%
India has 22 official languages
Official Language of
Tripura & West Bengal
Jammu and Kashmir
Dadra and Nagar Haeli, Daman and Diu
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bihar,
Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi,
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand,
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar
Pradesh & Uttaranchal
Kerala & Lakshadweep
Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry
Jammu and Kashmir
Awadhi (sub-variety of Hindi)
Bhojpuri (sub-variety of Hindi)
Bundeli (sub-variety of Hindi)
Chhattisgarhi (sub-variety of Hindi)
Haryanvi (sub-variety of Hindi)
Hindustani (mixture of Hindi and Urdu)
Kanauji (sub-variety of Hindi)
Magahi (sub-variety of Hindi)
Marwari (sub-variety of Hindi)
Northern part of India
Partly in Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra
and Nagar Haveli
Tulu people (Karnataka & Kerala)
The 1991 census recognizes 1,576 classified
According to Census of India of 2001, 30 languages
are spoken by more than a million native speakers,
60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than
10,000 native speakers.
Hindi and English are the official languages.
Other official languages in various states are
Punjabi, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu and
Gujarati. But there are over 1,000 languages
spoken throughout the country.
English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist
Hindi, in the Devanagari script is the official
language of the Federal government of India.
English is an associate official language.
Sanskrit, the classical language of India, and is
5000 years old and the basis of many modern
Indian languages including Hindi and Urdu.
RELIGIONS OF INDIA
India is a secular country and observance of
various religions and its rituals play a significant
role in every aspect of life in the country.
According to Census 2001:
It is the birth place of Hinduism, Buddhism,
Sikhism and Jainism.
It has nourished Zoroastrianism, Bahaism,
Islam and Christianity have flourished alongside
other religions and faiths.
RELIGIONS OF INDIA
All religious communities
Religion not stated
Source : Religion, Census of India 2001
RELIGIONS OF INDIA
According to census of India 2001, out of 1028 million
little over 827 million (80.5%) follow Hinduism
138 million (13.4%) follow Islam
24 million (2.3%) are Christians
19 million (1.9%) are Sikh
8 million (0.80%) follow Buddhism
4 million (0.4%) are Jainism
In addition, over 6 million profess ‘other’ religions and
faiths including Judaism, Zoarashtianism, Bahaism,
tribal religions, different from six main religions.
Proportion of various religions in population
Census 2001, India
Hindus are most numerous in 27 states/Uts except in
Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep,
Nagaland, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab.
Muslims are in majority in Lakshadweep and Jammu &
Kashmir. Sizeable in Assam (30.9%), West Bengal
(25.2%), Kerala (24.7%), Uttar Pradesh (18.5%) and Bihar
Christians are a majority in North-eastern states of
Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya- upto 80%. Among
other states/Uts, Manipur (34.0%), Goa (26.7%),
Andaman & Nicobar Islands (21.7%), Kerala (19.0%),
and Arunachal Pradesh (18.7%) have considerable
percentage of Christian population to the total
population of the State/UT.
Sikhs Punjab accounts for more than 75 % of the
total Sikh population in the country. Chandigarh
(16.1%), Haryana (5.5%), Delhi (4.0%), Uttaranchal
(2.5%) and Jammu & Kashmir (2.0%)
Buddhism: Maharashtra largest concentration of
Buddhism (58.3%). 73.4% of the total Buddhists in
India reside here. Karnataka (3.9 lakh), Uttar
Pradesh (3.0 lakh), west Bengal (2.4 lakh) and
Madhya Pradesh (2.0 lakh) are other states having
large Buddhist population. Sikkim (28.1%),
Arunachal Pradesh (13.0%) and Mizoram (7.9 %)
Baha’is: The roots of the Bahá'í Faith in India go back to
the first days of the Bábí religion in 1844.
Zorashtrianism: A small religious community, which
exists mostly in Mumbai, is Zoroastrianism. The
follower is called Parsi because the religion arrived in
India from Persia. This religion was established by
Zarathustra in 6th or 7th century BC.
Judaism: In 1948, India had a Jewish population of
approximately 30,000. Since then 20,000 have migrated
to Israel and elsewhere, leaving a community of 7 to 8
thousand, according to the official estimates. Most of
Bene' Israel origin, concentrated in
Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Cochin, Poona and a few villages in
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