have in common is a martial tradition…..study asserting
that the two communities – that have never mixed and live thousands of miles
away – are close genetically……
India is full of interesting people and Jats are of special interest now that we have a Jat as a Chief of Army Staff (COAS). What came as a shock (to us) is the commonality between Kerala Ezhavas
(the dominant shudra community) and Punjabi Jat Sikhs (the dominant shudra community).
(Lt) General Dalbir Singh Suhag (Jat but not Sikh), the 26th COAS who took over from General Bikram Singh (Sikh, most likely Jat), has a grand life-story to tell (see below), rising from a humble farm-hand background to be the highest ranked officer of the land, via the Gurkha regiment.
Our best wishes to General Singh and our hope is that we can maintain a “cold peace” in the sub-continent and that our civilian leaders will guide us accordingly.
DNA samples taken from thousands of Indians
have been compared with population groups from other parts of the world,
particularly Europe and Central Asia.
The latest one is from Kerala, which
is my home state on India’s south-western coast. According to the study, two
entirely different castes – Ezhava, also known as Thiyya in northern Kerala, and
Jat Sikh of Punjab – show remarkable genetic similarity.
In fact, Ezhavas showed more genotypic
resemblance to the Jat Sikh population of Punjab, Turks and Germans than to
East Asians, says the study by the Department of Biotechnology &
Biochemical Engineering at the Sree Budha College of Engineering in Pattoor,
It was conducted by department head Dr Seema Nair, Aswathy Geetha and
Chippy Jagannath under the aegis of Dr K. Sasikumar, the chairman of the
institute. It has also been published in the Croatian Medical Journal.
Before we jump into the study, here’s a
little note about genetics. For various reasons, DNA material undergoes slight
alterations or mutations in the course of time. The mutations then become
characteristic of the line of descendants. These mutations, or genetic markers,
are organised into categories called haplotypes. Basically, your haplotype is your
The Sree Budha study examined DNA from
the Y chromosome, which is also known as the male chromosome because it is
found only in males. More specifically, it examined Y Short Tandem Repeat (Y
STR) DNA present in the Y chromosome. As these DNA sequences are passed from
father to son, it is also useful in forensics and paternity testing.
The Ezhava population was compared
with other Indian populations and with selected world populations in order to
investigate the pattern of paternal contributions. Nair’s team examined 104
haplotypes among the Ezhavas. Ten were found identical to the Jat Sikhs, which
is the highest number among Indian populations, and four to the Turkish
population, which is the highest among European populations.
“The comparison suggests a genetic
link between the populations,” says Nair. Ezhavas, she argues, are genetically
more similar to Europeans (60 percent) than to East Asians (40 percent).
My interaction with Nair, who comes
across as witty and erudite, was primarily fuelled by my search for my own roots.
I belong to the same Ezhava community, which is at the centre of this research.
The Ezhavas have an intriguing
history. The most persistent belief is that they are the original people of
Kerala – the soldiers of the Villavar (archer) community which founded the
Chera kingdom. It is a measure of their martial traditions that among the
Ezhavas are the Chekavar – the only kamikaze group of fighters known in Indian
What is intriguing about the study is that
the Ezhavas, a Dravidian group, are now being described as closer to Jat Sikhs,
Europeans and Central Asians.
In terms of physical appearance, the
Ezhavas are brown Caucasians. However, typical of many Indian communities,
there are plenty of very dark and very fair people among them.
On the other hand, the Jat Sikhs who
live 3000 km up north are a lot fairer. Plus, Jat Sikh surnames such Mann,
Bader, Brar, Dhillon and Virk have an uncanny Germanic resonance.
Indeed, it is worth mentioning the
during the early part of the 20th century Sikh immigrants to the US convinced
the Immigration & Naturalization Service to grant them white status. Those
days only white Europeans were allowed to enter the United States as
immigrants. However, later the INS wised up to the fact that the Sikhs “weren’t
that white” and again categorised them as Asian.
So there you have it. One group of
Indians, the Ezhavas, and another group, the Jat Sikhs. The only thing they
have in common is a martial tradition. And yet you have this study asserting
that the two communities – that have never mixed and live thousands of miles
away – are closer genetically than to communities that live close by.
Meanwhile, down south Nair and
Sasikumar say the first report on the Y-STR profile in Kerala population is
just the beginning. Expect the unexpected.
Dalbir Singh Suhag, who took over as the 26th Chief of Army Staff
(CoAS) from General Bikram Singh on Thursday, tilled his land in a
remote Haryana village in his childhood.
General Dalbir Singh
was born in Bishan village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district on December 28,
1954. Many in the village, including his father and uncles had served
in the infantry and cavalry units but few would have imagined that the
boy who started his education in the two-roomed village primary school
would go on to lead the Indian Army one day.
sources close to General Dalbir Singh Suhag, the rooms of the school
were used for senior classes and he along with his classmates took their
lessons under trees.
During his spare time, the young Dalbir
would lend a helping hand to his family in tilling his field. This help
was crucial during the harvest season. “This was crucial learning for
any child. By working the fields, they developed a deep sense of respect
for the motherland that bore them their daily bread,” the source said.
in 1961 that a development took place which would remodel the life of
this boy from Bishan. That year, the Government of India set out to
establish Sainik Schools across the country. Chittorgarh in Rajasthan
was one of the locations. Dalbir’s granduncle was an equestrian
instructor at this school and he suggested that the boy study there.
Dalbir joined the school on January 15, 1965.
His teachers from
the Sainik School days are elated. “I feel that I am 18 again,”
remarked K S Kang, a teacher who is in his 90s. H S Rathi, another
teacher, described Dalbir as: “a very sincere, hard working and obedient
student. He was also very good in sports and a gifted basketball
player.” His English teacher J N Bhargava described him as: “He managed
his studies very well. He was humility personified, a man of
determination, speed and tenacity of purpose and would do any job
assigned to him most obediently.”
went on to join the National Defence Academy and in June, 1974, was
commissioned to the 4th Battalion of the 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier
Force). He is the third Army chief after Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw
and Gen G G Bewoor who was either commissioned into or associated with
the Brigade of Gorkhas. “It was a conscious choice I made as I wanted to
join only the infantry,” says Gen Dalbir Singh of his choice to seek
out the Gorkha Regiment, whose soldiers are among the finest in the
After serving in Sri Lanka and Jammu & Kashmir, Gen
Dalbir Singh raised and commanded a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion in
Nagaland and later an Infantry Brigade deeply committed to intense
Counter Insurgency Operations in the Kashmir valley.
Singh also commanded a Mountain Division in the Kargil-Drass sector. He
also served under the Cabinet Secretariat as an Inspector General,
Special Frontier Force. Subsequently, he was appointed Eastern Army
Commander from June 16, 2012 to December 31, 2013, and later to the post
of Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS) on January 1, 2014.