Saturday, July 18, 2009

Battle of the Sexes - ii

Although some of the genes on the Y chromosome have been maintained, most of them have died, and the team found evidence that some others are on track to disappear, as well. "Even though some of the genes appear to be important, we still think there is a chance that the Y chromosome eventually could disappear," said Makova. "If this happens, it won't be the end of males. Instead, a new pair of non-sex chromosomes likely will start on the path to becoming sex chromosomes."

Via Science Daily

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Teyyam Story

The man is from stone cutter caste. He wants to live an adventurous and warrior life unbecoming of his birth. He migrates from Malayala region to Kodava region. He falls in love with a woman known for her valour. They marry. But before he could go and start his family life, he would meet a Muslim woman who charms and seduces him. The Kodava woman comes to know of his infidelity and in anger does not agree to consummate their marriage.

The man starts working as a merchant. One day he is waylaid by thieves on his way back home. He defeats them in the fight and reaches home. There he realizes that he has dropped the wedding ring given by his wife. Fearing the humiliation from his wife for losing it, he goes back to the place where he has fought the thieves. The thieves, who have his ring, are ready and kill him.

The wife comes to know of the whole incident. She goes to the place where he was killed and confronts the thieves. In the ensuing fight she kills them all and retrieves the ring.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Roma

"Who are these people?" asks the man behind the counter in the photo store in Southall, an area also known as London's Little India.
He is handing over my order: a hefty pile of colour photographs, of which a picture of two Roma women and their children (above) is the first.
"They look just like the Banjara in Rajasthan - that's where I come from," he says.
He points to a beautiful print on the wall, showing a glamorous group of female Banjara dancers.
The similarity is striking.
Historians agree that the Roma's origins lie in north-west India and that their journey towards Europe started between the 3rd and 7th Centuries AD - a massive migration prompted by timeless reasons: conflicts, instability and the seeking of a better life in big cities such as Tehran, Baghdad and, later on, Constantinople.
Some of these Indian immigrant workers were farmers, herdsmen, traders, mercenaries or book-keepers. Others were entertainers and musicians.
They settled in the Middle East, calling themselves Dom, a word meaning "man".

Post-war European governments on both sides of the Iron Curtain denied the Roma Holocaust survivors any recognition or aid
To this day they retain their name and speak a language related to Sanskrit.
Large numbers moved into Europe, where the D, which was anyway pronounced with the tongue curled up, became an R, giving the word Rom. Today's European Roma (the plural of Rom) are their descendants.

Via BBC on the Roma

In my opinion, comparing the Roma with the Banjara (Lambani) because of their looks can be misleading. It's obvious that the comparison has stemmed out of their relative lighter skin tone as compared to South and South East Indians.

But the Lambani and the Roma are two different groups. The Roma can be only compared to Domba (another nomadic group in India). But Dombas look just like South or South-East Indians.

The Roma are predominantly Y-haplogroup H and Y-Haplogroup R2 people. Interestingly they carry negligible or nil Y-Haplogroup R1a1, a predominant north-west Indian lineage.

There is also a view that their language which was initially thought to be close to north-west Indian languages could be in fact close to Sinhala. The ancestors of Sinhalese are from eastern India.

Considering their haplogroup profile coupled with their linguistic roots, they would rather match with central-east Indians than north-west Indians.

Now, the fact is many of them do look like light skinned Lambanis(or vice versa). The light skin of the Roma is because of their admixture with West Asians and south-western Europeans.(The route they took appear to be north-west India->West Asia->Mediterranean->south-western Europe/north-eastern Europe-> Central Asia).

But what explains Lambani lighter skin tone? Well, interestingly, it appears they are European nomads in India, just like the Roma are Indian nomads in Europe. According to Sahoo et al.(2006), they carry Y-haplogroup R1b at around 28%(5/18). Considering the fact that they lack J and E, they are most likely from central-west European lands than from West Asia. It should be noted here that Y-haplogroup R1b is hardly present in castes and tribes of India. Also, curiously, they carry mtDNA N1a. There is N1a in India which is close to Iranian samples(Mountain et al.(1995), Baig et al (2004)). However, Lambani N1a is different (according to a Russian expert on mtDNA). I wonder whether their R1b haplotypes and N1a motifs could be compared to present or ancient DNA found in Europe.

Whatever the case, the Roma are from the present day nation state India. But making that point from the skin deep observations is pointless. In fact, as I have explained above, it might ironically show non-Indian inputs in this case. But BBC has always been a fine example of Anglo-Saxon literal view.