Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 533–545 | Cite as

Ethnic populations of India as seen from an evolutionary perspective

  • Partha P. Majumder


It is now widely accepted that (i) modern humans,Homo sapiens sapiens, evolved in Africa, (ii) migrated out of Africa and replaced archaic humans in other parts of the world, and (iii) one of the first waves of out-of-Africa migration came into India. India, therefore, served as a major corridor for dispersal of modern humans. By studying variation at DNA level in contemporary human populations of India, we have provided evidence that mitochondrial DNA haplotypes based on RFLPs are strikingly similar across ethnic groups of India, consistent with the hypothesis that a small number of females entered India during the initial process of the peopling of India. We have also provided evidence that there may have been dispersal of humans from India to southeast Asia. In conjunction with haplotype data, nucleotide sequence data of a hypervariable segment (HVS-1) of the mitochondrial genome indicate that the ancestors of the present austro-asiatic tribal populations may have been the most ancient inhabitants of India. Based on Y-chromosomal RFLP and STRP data, we have also been able to trace footprints of human movements from west and central Asia into India.


Demography migration mitochondrial DNA polymorphism Y-chromosome 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of SciencesIndian Academy of Sciences 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Partha P. Majumder
    • 1
  1. 1.Anthropology and Human Genetics UnitIndian Statistical InstituteKolkataIndia

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