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Bene Israel: Study of Jewish community living in India

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A family of the Bene Israel community in India. Image source: wordpress.com

The Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, in a letter written 800 years ago (circa 1200 CE), briefly mentioned a Jewish community living in India. It is anticipated that he referred to the Bene Israel community.

The Bene Israel community in West India is a unique community whose historical background before the 18th century other than their oral history remains largely unknown.

Oral history among Bene Israel holds that they are descendants of Jews whose ship wrecked on the Konkan shore, with only seven men and seven women surviving. Adding to the vagueness of Bene Israel origin is the fact that a similar story of seven surviving couples is found in the oral histories of other Indian populations.

Here is the Abstract of the Reasearch Article “The Genetics of Bene Israel from India Reveals Both Substantial Jewish and Indian Ancestry”:

Bene Israel members consider themselves as descendants of Jews, yet the identity of Jewish ancestors and their arrival time to India are unknown, with speculations on arrival time varying between the 8th century BCE and the 6th century CE.

Here, we characterize the genetic history of Bene Israel by collecting and genotyping 18 Bene Israel individuals. Combining with 486 individuals from 41 other Jewish, Indian and Pakistani populations, and additional individuals from worldwide populations, we conducted comprehensive genome-wide analyses based on FST, principal component analysis, ADMIXTURE, identity-by-descent sharing, admixture linkage disequilibrium decay, haplotype sharing and allele sharing autocorrelation decay, as well as contrasted patterns between the X chromosome and the autosomes.

The genetics of Bene Israel individuals resemble local Indian populations while at the same time constituting a clearly separated and unique population in India. They are unique among Indian and Pakistani populations we analyzed in sharing considerable genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations.

Putting together the results from all analyses point to Bene Israel being an admixed population with both Jewish and Indian ancestry, with the genetic contribution of each of these ancestral populations being substantial. The admixture took place in the last millennium, about 19–33 generations ago. It involved Middle-Eastern Jews and was sex-biased, with more male Jewish and local female contribution. It was followed by a population bottleneck and high endogamy, which can lead to increased prevalence of recessive diseases in this population.

This study provides an example of how genetic analysis advances our knowledge of human history in cases where other disciplines lack the relevant data to do so.

(The paper was originally published in plos.org. Read full paper here)

Next Story

What Topics British Students can Research About Indian History

The key is to find a subject matter that you’re interested in where there’s enough research for you to make an original contribution without retracing the steps of previous researchers

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Indian History
And so with all of that in mind, let’s jump on in and take a look at just a few of the most interesting topics that British students can research about Indian history.

World history is a fascinating field, with so many different global events that you could study something different every day and still never run out of subjects. At the same time though, with so much choice out there, it can be difficult for people to settle upon the specific subjects that they want to work on.

One often underexplored area is Indian history topics, and British students in particular have a lot to learn and a lot to contribute to the field. That’s because Britain and India have a long, interlinked history, and bringing the two together can be a great way to give your work an edge and a little uniqueness.

And so with all of that in mind, let’s jump on in and take a look at just a few of the most interesting topics that British students can research about Indian history.

What topics British students can research about Indian history

1.    Alexander’s Invasion of India

If you’re interested in Indian history project topics, a good place to start is by looking at dissertation writing services in the UK. That’s where we came up with the idea of focusing on Alexander’s invasion of India, in which Alexander the Great launched a campaign in Pakistan with the aim of taking control of India. It’s thought that Alexander set his sights on India because at the time, the Greeks thought that India was at the end of the world.

2.    Gupeta Empire of Magadha

Originating in Magadha, the ancient Mauryan and Gupeta Empires led to major advancements in the sciences, religion and philosophy. It led to what’s now known as the Golden Age of India and was spread across modern-day India, Bangladesh and Nepal. This is another great example of a rich period in India’s history in which there’s no shortage of subject matter for would-be essay writers.

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The Delhi Sultanate was a huge Islamic empire that was based in Delhi and which ruled the majority of India for over three hundred years.

3.    Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was a huge Islamic empire that was based in Delhi and which ruled the majority of India for over three hundred years. Taking place during the Middle Ages, this happened during a fascinating period of global history, and this gives students the ability to try all sorts of interesting parallels with what was taking place across the rest of the globe.

4.    The Coming of the Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British

One way to make written content more engaging is to directly address your target audience. If you’re a British student who’s writing for a British university with British lecturers (or Portuguese, Dutch or French for that matter), writing about the coming of other nations to India is an easy way to increase the likelihood that whoever’s reading and marking your coursework feels some level of investment in it.

5.    India Under Colonial Rule (1700-1885)

This is arguably one of the more controversial Indian history topics, because even during the Indian Rebellion there were people fighting both for and against the British. The good news is that there’s plenty of information out there for you to use as a basis for your work, ranging from organizations like the BBC to the British National Archives.

6.    Indian Rebellion of 1857

If you’re looking for cause and effect essay topics then you might have found your topic. That’s because no rebellion in history has ever come about by accident. In this case, it’s said that the rebellion was born out of Indian resentment towards British reforms which included harsh taxes, although as with any rebellion, there are dozens of different factors which all came together to instigate it. You could write a full essay just on the causes.

7.    India: From Regional to World Power

This is one of the most relevant Indian history topics for today’s world because the country is increasingly becoming a major player in the global economy. This is also one of those interesting subject matters where there’s no need for extensive research or to cite other people who’ve studied the topic because there’s just so much information for you to tap into.

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This is arguably one of the more controversial Indian history topics, because even during the Indian Rebellion there were people fighting both for and against the British.

Conclusion

Now that you know just a few of the defining events of Indian history, the next step is for you to decide which topic interests you the most and to start carrying out a little research. As you carry out your research, be sure to look out for areas that haven’t been highly covered. This will make it much easier for you to make sure that you’re adding your own original take to it.

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Of course, there’s also a real risk that you’ll end up choosing a research area where there’s not enough information out there for you to write a full piece. The key is to find a subject matter that you’re interested in where there’s enough research for you to make an original contribution without retracing the steps of previous researchers. Good luck.

Author Bio

Robert Everett is a freelance writer and amateur historian with a particular interest in Indian History. A keen reader, he particularly likes to learn more about the Indian Rebellion. When he’s not reading or writing, he can usually be found watching documentaries.