New Delhi: The Centre, has recently released 2011 census data on language. An underlying trend that has been witnessed throughout the report was the growing population of Hindi speakers across the country and the dwindling percentage of Dravidian language speakers.
The Linguistic diversity of India:
India’s linguistic diversity is a known fact. The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution comprises 22 languages which are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili ,and Dogri.
Hindi Is The Fastest Growing Indian Language
Between 2001 and 2011, Hindi speakers grew by 25% with close to 100 million new speakers. With this, the percentage of people with Hindi as their mother tongue has risen to 43.63% from 41.03% in 2001. Among the ten largest Indian languages, Hindi is the only language that saw such phenomenal growth. After Hindi, Bengali remains as the second most spoken language followed by Marathi, which has replaced Telegu in the third place.
Hindi is growing even in South India
In addition, growing migration from north to south has meant a greater presence of Hindi in the five southern states. In Tamil Nadu, for example, the proportion of Hindi speakers nearly doubled from 2001 to 2011. In some cases, like in Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru, this north to south migration has caused political ripples and resulted in an agitation to remove Hindi signages from the city metro. That said, absolute numbers are still small and it remains to be seen if the trend continues in the 2021 census.
Impact Of Migration On Languages Spoken
Migration too has an effect on the languages spoken in different states of India.
- The number of Hindi speakers in Tamil Nadu nearly doubled in 2011 compared to 2001.
- Along with Hindi, Bengali has been spreading rapidly in southern and western states.
- There are 9.6 crore Bengalis, out of which 1.8 crores or 19% stay outside Bengal.
- Maharashtra with 4.4 lakh Bengali speakers, has outnumbered National Capital Region Of Delhi and, Bengaluru (home to a large Bengali speaking population).
- Languages like Hindi, Bengali, Oriya and Assamese have spread in southern states
- The number of Tamil and Malayalam speakers have decreased in most states across north India.
From the 22 scheduled languages, Urdu and Konkani are the only two languages, which have seen a fall in their absolute numbers. In the list of the highest spoken Indian languages from the Eighth Schedule, Urdu moved to the seventh position, down from the sixth slot in 2001. Compared to 5.01% Urdu Speakers in 2001, the percentage has now come down to 4.34%. Notably, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the two states which have the highest Urdu speaking population.