Sasankha Sekhar Sarkar obtained DSc (1948) from University of Calcutta. He served as Anthropologist, Anthropological Survey of India (1947-51), Research Fellow of NISI (now INSA), (1951-56), Lecture and later Reader) (1957-69), Department of Anthropology, University of Calcutta. He also worked with Census of India.
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Sarkar initially took part in the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. He studied 100 pairs of German twins, the results which were published as a memoir of INSA. He carried out intensive field work among the aborigines of Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Through these studies he tried to demonstrate empirically that the Indian sub-continent had never been an ethnic vacuum and that microevolution in situ of an early Australoid population, consequent upon the operation of the various relevant mechanisms, must have occurred resulting into the present day diversity. He indicated the presence of an Australiod element in the prehistoric population of the Indus Valley, as well as down south in the skeletal materials excavated from Brahmagiri. Apart from the presence of this autochthonous Australoid element, he hypothesized successive waves of immigration into India by those who peopled Tepe Hissar. With reference to contemporary populations he discarded, rectifying his own earlier view, the hypothesis of the presence of a Negrito racial strain in the Indian mainland. These studies questioned the manner in which the Negrito hypothesis was put forward on the basis of stray cases of frizzly hair among the Kadar and indicated the possibility of frizzly hair having appeared in a few individuals either through mutation from the wavy type or through admixture with Negroids, whose presence in the country from historical times is on record. His most significant contribution to the field of traditional physical Anthropology was a proposed scheme of classification of the Indian people into six groups, namely, (i) Australoid, (2) Indo-Iranian, (3) Irano-Scythian, (4) Mundari-speaking, (5) Malayo-Polynesian, and (6) Mongoloid, based on metric data. However, he did realize and suggest that in efforts like this archaeological, cultural, linguistic and such other information as may be available from the allied disciplines should be given due weight. He indicated that the blood group gene frequencies of populations should be looked at from the point of view of microevolutionary processes like isolation, admixture, etc., and put forward the interesting observations, as early as the early forties, and fifties, that there is a south-north and an east-west ABO gene frequency gradient in the Indian subcontinent, a gradient running parallel to caste hierarchy, and so on. The implication of such finding sin anthropological genetics, especially of the latter, in clarifying the interrelationship between social and biological phenomena, are indeed considerable. He pointed out how the knowledge of basic genetics equipped one to provide marriage counseling to prospective mates, in order that the burden on individual families, and the society, of taking care of congenitally disable individuals was minimized. He authored many books, the most important of them being The aboriginal Races of Indian and Ancient Races of Deccan.
Awards and Honours:Dr Sarkar won the Griffith Memorial Prize of University of Calcutta (1938). He was elected Fellow of the Anthropological Society of India; and President, Anthropology and Archaeology Section, Indian Science Congress (1951).