A race is a group of people with a set of distinctive physical features such as skin colour, type of nose, form of hair, etc. Sir Herbert Risley had classified the people of India into seven racial types. These are:- (i) Turko-Iranian, (ii) Indo-Aryan, (iii) ScythoDravidian, (iv) Aryo-Dravidian, (v) Mongolo-Dravidian, (vi) Mongoloid and (vii) Dravidian. However, Risley’s classification was criticized for its shortcomings as it was based mainly on language-types rather than physical characteristics
Dr. B.S. Guha, the Ex-Director of the Anthropological Survey of India, has based his racial classification of India on physical characteristics. His classification of Indian races is considered as the most authentic. He has recognized the following six racial groups in India: (1) the Negrito, (2) the Proto Australoid, (3) the Mongoloid, (4) the Mediterranean, (5) the Western Brachycephals and (6) the Nordic.
1.The Negritoes: The Negritoes, most probably, were the earliest arrivals in India. These are characterized by short stature (150 cm), dark skin colour, frizzle hair, thick lips, etc. In India some of the tribes in South India, such as the Kadar, the Irula, the Kanikkars and the Paniyan have distinct Negrito traits.
- The Proto-Australoid: After the Negritoes, the Proto-Australoids entered the subcontinent of India, probably from Australia. Central Indian tribes like the Ho, Bhils, Chenchus, Mundas, Santhals belong to this racial group. Their common. physical traits are dark brown to black brown complexion, broad nose, wavy to curly hair, short stature and thick everted lips
3.The Mongoloids: The Mongoloids area major racial stock native to Asia, 36 including the peoples of northern and eastern Asia. They reached India from Mongolia, China, Tibet and South East Asia. They occupied Ladakh Division of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, the Himalayan and sub-Himalayan belts and the north eastern states of India.
Dr. B.S. Guha has recognized two sub-groups of Mongoloids: (a) PalaeoMongoloid and (b) Tibeto-Mongoloid. The Palaeo-Mongoloid are the most primitive type which have long heads, medium stature, light brown colour, medium nose, oblique eyes and scanty hair on body. Their representatives are found in the sub-Himalayan region, particularly Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Indo-Myanmar border districts. There representatives are Daflas, Garos, Khasis, Kuki-Nagas, Lalung, Miris etc.
The Tibeto-Mongoloids are found in Bhutan, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. Their typical features are long stature, light yellow colour, hairy body, oblique eyes, long nose and flat face. The Bhutias, the Gorkhas, the Ladakhis etc are the representatives of the Tibeto-Mongoloid racial group.
4.The Mediterraneans: They came to India in successive waves from the Mediterranean region. Dr. Guha has identified 3 sub-groups of the Mediterraneans, namely, (a) Palaeo-Mediterraneans (b) Mediterraneans and (c) Oriental type. The oldest group is the Palaeo-Mediterraneans. They are characterised by medium or short stature, short or medium nose, slender build, long head and dark (continental) complexion. Perhaps they entered the subcontinent during the Neolithic period and were pushed into areas south of Vindhayan Mountains in areas of relative isolation.
- The Western Brachycephals: Dr. Guha has classified them into the following three sub-groups:
(i) The Alpenoid – They are characterised by broad head, medium stature and light skin, found amongst Bania castes of Gujarat, the Kayasthas of Bengal,
(ii) The Dinaric They are characterised by broad head, long nose, tall stature and dark skin colour, found amongst the Brahmin of Bengal, the nonBrahmin of Karnataka, etc.
(iii) The Armenoid – They are characterised by features similar to Dinaric. The Armenoid have a more marked shape of the back of head, a prominent and narrow nose. The Parsis of Mumbai show the typical characteristics of the Armenoid race.
- The Nordics: The Nordics or the Vedic Aryans were the last to reach the Indian subcontinent. Their main physical traits are tall stature, long head, long face, light skin and hair and blue eyes. They are found in different parts of north of the country, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Rajputana. Research suggests that the Nordics came from the north, probably from southeast Russia and south west Siberia, through central Asia to India.