Synopsis

Before India is an easy-to-read guide to ancestry that focuses specifically on the Indian subcontinent. It illuminates how human origins and ancestry are best discovered through a combination of science and history. The book is not a dry study of genetics. It includes many appropriate pictures, maps, and charts to reinforce the text. Mirroring a multifaceted subject matter, Before India is a well-researched amalgamation of genres--part genealogical guide, part ethnic history, part science expose--that draws a holistic picture of ancestry by combining these varied insights.

Exploring topics such as the cosmos, the origin of our planet and human evolution, migrations and invasions to the Indian subcontinent that brought many different foreign genes, as well as how DNA science is used to trace ancestry, the book provides both a robust explanation of genealogy and penetrating insight into India's colorful tapestry of hundreds of unique ethnic groups. Before India includes the author's research study of the DNA linked ancestral origins of several key ethnic communities in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and a few communities of Indian and Pakistani origin in other countries.

The use of DNA tests to trace ancestry is a relatively new science. Nowadays people in North America and Europe can have their DNA tested easily, painlessly (with a swab from the mouth), and at a very modest cost. Such tests will become available to people of the Indian subcontinent. Genealogy has become the second most popular American hobby after gardening, and it is the second most visited category of web sites on the Internet.

Contents and Chapter Outlines

Introduction

The opening pages explain the reasons for writing this book and how the sections are organized.

Chapter 1: Creating History

The traditional methods of research about ancestry--building about what others have written--tend to perpetuate misinterpretations and errors. The Romans and the Greeks were among the first to write about India, but what they wrote was typically based on hearsay and not always correct. For instance, Herodotus, who is held in awe by many historians, wrote several things about India that were incorrect, and he was unaware of many great developments that had taken place in India before his time. When it comes to ancestry new scientific knowledge provides more reliable answers.

Chapter 2: The Beginnings

There is a brief explanation about the formation and age of the universe, and how our planet came into being. There is a discussion about the age of the Earth and how life evolved. The ongoing quest for answers through satellites in outer space is reviewed.

Chapter 3: Human Origins

Based on key fossil evidence, the emergence of modern humans (Homo sapiens) from primates or mammals is discussed. The current scientific model for the beginning of all modern humans claims an African origin. The migrations out of Africa started eighty to one hundred thousand years ago and gradually populated the entire planet. Scientists have found that people living in a village in South India carried the same genetic markers as some Australian aborigines and people living in Africa. This confirmed that the original people in Australia and India were the likely descendants of the original coastal migrants from Africa. The reasons for different skin colors are explained.

Chapter 4: Migrations and Warfare

This chapter provides a timeline and brief thumbnail sketches of Indian history starting about 30,000 years ago. The primary purpose is to show that people of many different origins migrated to or invaded India over the centuries. They brought with them genes from many different parts of the globe, merged with the locals and created a variety of new ethnic communities throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Chapter 5: Counting Relatives

Most of us remember our grandparents, and perhaps even our great-grandparents. But we know little or nothing about earlier relatives. Because population grows exponentially fast, our pool of our ancestors is very large and complex. If a woman's childbearing years are from sixteen to forty, she can have twelve children. On average six of these will be girls. With each mother producing six more mothers, eight people can multiply into several million in a few hundred years. The chapter explains how different types of marital arrangements influence a family's pedigree tree.

Chapter 6: Genes and Genealogy

This chapter covers the science of genes and genealogy.  It describes the Human Genome Project that was completed in 2000, and surveyed the genetical design of the human being. There are explanations about what genes are and how DNA analyses are used to trace paternal and maternal lines of ancestry.

Chapter 7: The Ancestors

This chapter describes the author's research study with the DNA results of several key ethnic communities of the Indian subcontinent--India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka--along with a few ethnic communities of Indian and Pakistani origin in other countries. The results of the study identified eight major "haplogroups" (ancestral groups in DNA terminology) for these communities.

Chapter 8: Major Haplogroups

The eight major haplogroups (ancestral groups) are described in some detail. The geographical origins of the people who started these haplogroups many thousand years ago are also identified. There are graphic representations of the major ethnic communities in these haplogroups, and how they are distributed in the study sample.

Chapter 9: Conclusion

Based on the study, Indian ethnic communities tend to have several different ancestral lines. They do not have a pure ancestral line leading back to one race or community.  Suggestions are provided on how readers can explore their own deep ancestries by having their DNA tested.

Appendix: Ethnic Data

This section contains detailed statistical data for the ethnic communities in the study.

Glossary

Acknowledgements

Notes

Resources

Index

About the Author

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