Having a tough time with Indian Languages?

नमस्ते, হ্যালো, வணக்கம் . These three words translate into ‘hello’ in English. These are just three languages out of the 387 languages in India. The most interesting fact is that 45% of the Indian population would not understand these words. The greatest variety in languages can be found in the one of the biggest democracies in the world. 1,027,015,247 people, 28 states, 387 different languages, 8 main religions, 55 political parties, one nation – India. Most of these languages are distinct and have their own distinct form of writing and speech.

Indian languages is perhaps one such subject that only comprehended in the intellect and too symbolically. Languages in India have existed ever since man first started to communicate with the word of mouth instead of just hand signs. Languages of India are an identifiable mark of the whole Indian culture and tradition. India is a multi-linguistic country where myriads of men from varied castes, creed and origin reside and practice multiple religious norms and rituals.

India is like a real life tapestry – a very complex thread of community but equally fascinating as well. That is why some people sometimes call India as a sub-continent. It’s diversity may be considered as a big problem to some, but in that very same variety lies the life blood of India’s pride.

How diverse is the Indian language?

Statistics say that in India, there are 83 million people who speak Bengali, 46 million people who speak Gujarati, 38 million people using Kannada, 33 million speakers of Malayalam, 72 million who use Marathi, 29 million people who are speaking Punjabi, 61 million speakers of Tamil, 74 million persons using Telugu, and more than 200 million speakers of Hindi.

Development of Languages during the British rule in India 

The British Raj was keen on developing the regional languages, however, for the purpose of administration, they needed a common language. English seemed the best choice. At first the British administrative officers tried learning the local languages to communicator with the people but later when a group of Indian people were able to prove their proficiency in the language, the job openings in the government were offered to them. Hence more Indians were encouraged to learn English.

After Independence, the country was in chaos and confusion. It was now time to choose a national language. But there were at least a hundred languages that were spoken in India. The leaders who framed the constitution decided on the use of Hindi as the national language, since it was the most widely used language.

One thought on “Having a tough time with Indian Languages?

  • August 5, 2013 at 5:53 am

    You are misinformed: Hindi is not the national language: It is one of the two official languages. In other words it is not defined as “rastrabhaasha” in our constitution rather “Rajbhaasha”. Till the first 15 years it was decided to use English and then slowly conduct all official business in Hindi (as it was the most widely spoken language). However, large scale protests from South Indian states deterred the change in policy. The states can choose to communicate in their regional language provided that there is a translation in one of the two official languages available.


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