Highlights

  • Govt acquiring DNA profiling kits, state-of-the-art machines: report
  • Government planning study to 'trace purity of races in India': report
  • Decision after meeting between Culture Secretary, scientists: report

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Prof Vasant Shinde said that the objective of the study was to "trace the purity of races in India", as per a New Indian Express report.

Aryans or Dravidians - which ancient group first made India its home? Coinciding with a reignited political debate, and amid unclear scientific answers, the Union government is planning a mega DNA study to "trace the purity of races" in India, according to a report in the New Indian Express.

Quoting government sources, the article said that the Ministry of Culture is acquiring an array of DNA profiling kits and associated state-of-the-art machines for the study. A budget of ₹10 crore has been set aside. The decision was reportedly taken after a meeting between Ministry of Culture Secretary Govind Mohan, archaeologist Professor Vasant Shinde, and other senior scientists and scholars of the Birbal Sahani Institute of Paleosciences.

The news report quoted Prof Shinde as saying that the objective of the study was to "trace the purity of races in India". He said that scientists wanted to see how "mutation and mixing of genes in the Indian population has happened in the last 10,000 years".

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Another aim is to "establish the Indian role in the dispersal of humans out of Africa" thousands of years ago, according to the Kolkata-based Anthropological Survey of India, or ANSI, which is also part of the study. ANSI said that modern humans "could have taken the ‘southern route of dispersal’, utilising the coastlines to travel from Africa, through Arabia, across the Indian subcontinent and then into South-East Asia and finally into Australia".

The ANSI also wants to "understand the genetic diversity of Indian populations among various ethnic groups in different regions of India". The ANSI had earlier expressed worry that the issue was "politically loaded", but eventually became part of the study, as per the New Indian Express report.

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