Syllabus section: 2. Demographic Profile of India
Racial Classification of B.S. Guha (1937): Anthropology Optional
Dr. B. S. Guha’s racial classification is based on anthropometric measurements, which were collected during his investigations from 1930 to 1933.
Guha traced six major racial strains and nine sub-types among the modem Indian population
1. The Negrito
2. The Proto-Australoid
3. The Mongoloid
Palaeo-Mongoloid - Long-headed & Broad-headed
4. The Mediterranean
5. The Western Brachycephals
6. The Nordics
1. The Negrito:
These people are considered as the first comers and the true autochthones of India. They are characterized by dark skin colour, short stature, and frizzly hair with long or short spirals. The head is either small, medium, long or broad with bulbous forehead. The nose is flat and broad. The lips are everted and thick. The best representatives of this type are the Kadars, the Irulas, the Puniyans, etc. of South India. Such type of characters is also visible among the tribes living in the Rajmahal Hills. In respect of the head form and hair form, the Indian Negrito strain resembles more to the Melanesian Pygmies than to the Andamanese or African Pygmies.
2. The Proto-Australoid:
This group is considered as the second oldest racial group in India. The people are characterized by Dolichocephalic head, broad and flat nose (platyrrhine nose) which is depressed at the root. They are further short in height, dark brown to nearly black in skin colour. The hair is wavy or curly. Supraorbital ridges are prominent. These features are found among almost all the tribes of the Central and Southern India. The best examples are the Oraons, the Santals, and the Mundas of Chotanagpur region; the Chenchus, the Kurumbas, the Yeruvas and the Badagas of Southern India; and the Bhils, Kols of Central and Western India.
3. The Mongoloid:
This type of people is distinguished by scanty growth of hair on face and body. The eyes are obliquely set and show the presence of epicanthic fold. The face is flat with prominent cheekbones and hair is straight. This group can be divided into two sub-groups, such as Palaeo-Mongoloid and the Tibeto-Mongoloid. The former one is further sub-divided as long headed and broad-headed.
In Palaeo-Mongoloid group, especially the longheaded type possesses long head, medium stature, and medium nose. Their cheekbones are prominent and skin colour varies from dark to light brown. The face is short and flat. They are the inhabitants of the sub-Himalayan region; the concentration is most remarkable in Assam and Burma Frontier.
The Sema Nagas of Assam and the Limbus of Nepal are the best examples. The other sub-division of palaeo-Mongoloid is the broad- headed type who possesses broad head with round face, dark skin colour and medium nose. The eyes are obliquely set and epicanthic fold is more prominent than that of the long-headed type. This type has been identified among the hill tribes of Chittagong, e.g. the chakmas, the Maghs, etc.
Second sub-division of Mongoloid is the Tibeto-Mongoloids who shows no further divisions. Their physical features are characterized by broad and massive head, tall stature, long and flat face, and medium to long nose. The eyes are oblique with marked epicanthic fold. Hair on body and face is almost absent. The skin colour is light brown. The best examples are the Tibetans of Bhutan and Sikkim.
4. The Mediterranean:
This group is divided into three distinct racial types, which are as follows:
The people are characterized by long head with bulbous forehead, projected occiput with high vault. They also show medium stature, small and broad nose, narrow face and pointed chin. The hair on face and body is scanty. The skin colour is dark. These people probably introduced megalithic culture to India. The Dravidian speaking people of South India exhibit the main concentration of this type. The Tamil Brahmins of Madura, Nairs of Cochin, and Telugu Brahmins are the examples.
b) The Mediterranean:
The features include long head with arched forehead, narrow nose, medium to tall stature and light skin colour. Their chin is well developed, hair colour is dark, eye colour is brownish to dark and the hair on face and body is plentiful. These people live in the regions like Uttar Pradesh, Bombay, Bengal, Malabar, etc. The true types are the Namboodiri Brahmins of Cochin, Brahmins of Allahabad and Bengali Brahmins. It may be assumed that probably this type was responsible for the building up of Indus Valley civilization.
c) The Oriental:
These people resemble the Mediterranean in almost all physical features except the nose, which is long and convex in this case. The best examples are the Punjabi Chattris, the Bania of Rajputana, and the Pathans.
5. The Western Brachycephals
This racial group is divided into three types as given below:
a) The Alpinoid:
This type shows broad head with rounded occiput, medium stature, prominent nose and rounded face. The hair on face and body is abundant and the skin colour is light. This type is found among the Bania of Gujarat, the Kathi of Kathiawar and the Kayasthas of Bengal,
b) The Dinarics:
This type is characterized by broad head, rounded occiput and high vault. The nose is very long and often convex. The face is long and stature in general is very tall. The skin colour is dark; eye and hair colours are also dark. The representative populations are found in Bengal, Orissa and Coorg. The Brahmins of Bengal and Mysore are the best examples.
Both the Alpino and the Dinarics people entered into India through Baluchistan, Sind, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. They penetrated Ceylon from Kannada. The presence of this type has been noted in the Indus Valley site, Tinneveli and Hyderabad.
c) The Armenoid:
This type shows a resemblance with the Dinarics in physical characters. Only difference is that, among the Dinarics the shape of occiput is much developed and the nose is very prominent. The Parsis of Bombay exhibit typical Armenoid characteristics. The Bengali Vaidyas and Kayasthas sometimes show the features of this type.
6. The Nordics:
The people are characterized by long head, protruding occiput and arched forehead. The nose is straight and high bridged. All are tall statured with strong jaw and robust body built. The eye colour is blue or grey. The body colour is fair which is reddish white. This element is scattered in different parts of Northern India, especially in the Punjab and Rajputana. The Kho of chitral, the Red Kaffirs, and the Khatash are some other representatives of this type. The Nordics came from the north, probably from Southeast Russia and Southwest Siberia, thereafter penetrated into India through Central Asia.
Criticism of Guha’s Classification:
Guha’s classification also meets criticism at some points. Firstly, Guha’s findings regarding the Negrito element have been opposed by almost all-leading anthropologists. Secondly, Guha tried to prove that all racial elements in India are of foreign origin. Keith strongly opposed this view. Because, Keith believed in a racial evolution that has taken place in India and so he took India an evolutionary field of different races.
Further, Guha had shown the people of India as Mongoloid and Brachycephalic. He proposed a sweeping distribution of Brachycephals, southwards, round the both ends of the Himalayas, which ultimately extends to the West to spread over the whole of the Deccan.
In the northeast and the east, this brachycephalic area is supposed to have spreaded from the Nepal and Bhutan, upto Bengal and Orissa. Dr. Sarkar has strongly opposed the proposition of Guha. In his opinion the brachycephalic population of India does not show a sweeping distribution as has been described by Guha.