On the trail of the first people in India

Akshai Jain in Mint:

The Brokpa villagers who live near Batalik in Ladakh are a colourful but confused lot. Their oral history and songs suggest that they migrated from Gilgit, now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), a few hundred years ago. But over the last 50 years they’ve come to believe that they’re remnants of an ancient Aryan population that came to India with Alexander’s army.

The “Aryan” theory was floated by a few German Indologists in the 1960s; it caught everyone’s fancy, and the Brokpas turned it into a marketing tool. The problem, however, is that nobody takes it seriously any more and the small, isolated community which had almost convinced itself about the supposition, is now unsure of its roots.

So recently when a group of researchers landed up at their villages, promising to tell them about their genetic history, the Brokpas were excited. The Aryan Welfare Association in Dha village swung into action, organizing a camp at which men from different villages came together to take swills of distilled water and spit into vials. For the Brokpas, it was a solemn occasion. This, they were told, would hold the clue to their origin. More:

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