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At home, in India

india Updated: Dec 13, 2009 21:36 IST
Hindustan Times
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It’s not really going to stop the on-and-off bickerings about the ownership of Arunachal Pradesh between India and China.

But it turns out now that, going by a study that maps the human genetic history in Asia, all Chinese, Japanese and other East Asians are Indians. Well, they had ancestors who moved out from the landmass that now forms India. What this will do for India’s much-spoken-about-but-little-else ‘Look East’ policy is hard to tell. But this could see Indians now not be that puzzled any more each time they hear non-Asians refer to Chinese, Korean and Japanese movies as ‘Asian cinema’ as if our films are from a different continent. Because we’re all Asians now.

According to the study, humans migrated from southern Africa to India some 100,000 years ago. Using the Indian subcontinent as a sort of port of call, they spread to China, East Asia and South East Asia. This, of course, puts a lot of things in a different context. Babar, for instance, came down from the plains of Central Asia to start a dynasty in what now turns out to be the land of his ancestors. So in a way, India became not so much a land ripe for foreign invaders to set up shop but an old, sprawling mansion with property disputes where families that had moved out returned to reclaim their rooms.

Of course, going by that logic, since we all came from Africa, that continent should have claim to the whole planet. Which is why instead of focusing on the genetic origins of all Asians being in India, we should celebrate a bonhomie that’s more tangible: the fact that ten Asian countries — China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and India — all worked together to come up with this finding.