How related are South Asians?

I’ve been geeking out on genetics recently and I came across this Wikipedia page:

It lists out the results of several studies which sampled various ethnic / linguistic / geographic groups in India and the Haplogroup s they are a part of. I’m not going to pretend I knew what a Haplogroup was until recently, so I’ll quickly explain it:

A Haplogroup is basically a set of genes which show up together frequently in a given population. They come from the Y chromosome and so the presence of one group or another indicates a common male ancestor. I gather it’s It’s more complicated than this, but that’s what I understand..

I took the data from some of the groups, and shoved it into a spreadsheet to see how related these different (and often acrimonious) communities are genetically:

These are not apples to apples type comparisons and the datasets have wildly varying margins of error.

A couple things that are interesting:

  • There is a signifigant difference between low and high caste people, but less between middle and high.
  • The difference between Indo-European Indians and Dravidians is actually about the same as high/low caste across the entire continent.
  • There is almost no correlation between IE and Munda people despite thousands of years of cohabitation across broad stretches of east and north-east India
  • The Tharu people have an inverse correlation to Indo-Europeans across most Haplotypes even though they are mostly linked linguistically and in religion. As a side note, they are the only population in South Asia who happens to carry the trait for thalassemia which prevents malaria (and can cause sickle cell). Weird…

Okay, I hope that was mildly interesting, it was fun interneting for me.

Originally published at on May 28, 2015.

Jacob Singh
Just a man trying to find a happy death.
New Delhi