Among the most exciting discoveries in recent years has been in the field of genetics and genomics, as the deciphering of the Indian genetic code has yielded fascinating insights into, “Who We Are and How We Got Here”. That’s the title of Harvard scientist David Reich’s recent book on human origins as pieced together from our DNA.
I may be biased, but the chapters about India — based on the work of Priya Moorjani, K. Thangaraj, Lalji Singh, Vagheesh Narasimhan and numerous other collaborators — are the most fascinating. Over the past decade, these scientists have uncovered compelling evidence showing that most people in India arose from a mixture of two ancestral populations that they call Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and Ancestral South Indian (ASI), and that the ANI component tends to be higher among upper-caste and northern Indians. Other researchers have added greater detail to the picture, showing that in addition to ANI and ASI, Andaman and Nicobar Islanders, Tibeto-Burmans and Austro-Asiatic groups contribute to the great Indian population mix.