Are Dalits ancestors of modern Roma? - The New Indian Express

Are Dalits ancestors of modern Roma?

Published: 30th November 2012 09:09 AM

Last Updated: 30th November 2012 09:09 AM

The city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) claims to have  traced the origin of Roma (Gypsy) population.

Though linguistic and genetic studies on European Roma traced them to Eurasia, there was ambiguity over the exact parental population group.

In the absence of archaeological evidence and scanty documentation of Roma, an international team of scientists led by Kumarasamy Thangaraj of CCMB traced the founder of European Roma by using the Y- chromosome genetic signatures.

According to a CCMB press release, the Y- chromosome is inherited: father to son to grandson. All the males in a family, evolved from a single male founder, will possess the same Y-chromosome. 

In this study, scientists screened 10,000 males from around the world, including 7,000 belonging to 205 ethnic groups in India, to discern a more precise ancestral source of European Romani (Gypsy) population.

“We have compared the worldwide phylogeographical data, for Indian H1a1a haplotypes with Roma and concluded that the aboriginal scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northwestern India, also known as ‘Dalits’, are the most likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma”, Thangaraj said.

“The finding corroborates the hypothesised cognacy of the terms _ Roma and Doma _ and resolves the controversy about the Gangetic plain and the Punjab in favour of the northwestern portion of the diffuse widespread range of the Doma ancestral population of northern India”, George van Driem, a linguist from the University of Bern, Switzerland, said.

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