Indian Language & People
The 18 Main languages in India:
There is 'Indian' language, which is part of the reason why English is still widely spoken over 40 years after the British left India, and it, s still the official language of the judiciary. There are a great number of local languages, and in many cases the state boundaries have been drawn on linguistic lines. ln all, there are 18 languages officially recognized by the constitution, and these fall into two major groups: Indic, or indo-Aryan, and Dravidian. Additionally, there are pver 1600 minor languages, and dialects listed in the 1991 census. The scope for mis-understanding can be easily appreciated"
The Indic languages are a branch of the Indo-European group of languages (of which English is also ma member ), and were the language of the central Asian peoples who invaded what is now India. The Dravidian languages are native to south India although they have been influenced by Sanskrit and Hindi.
Most of the languages have their own script, and these are used along with English, In some states, such as Gujarat, you'll hardly see a word of English, where is Himachal Pradesh virtually everything is in English. For a sample of the different scripts, look at a larger banknote where 13 languages are represented. From the top, the are: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannnada, Kashmirim Malayala, Hindi (Devanagari), Oriya, Punjabi,Rajasthani, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
Major efforts have been made ot promote Hindi as the national language of India and to gradually phase out English. A stumbling block to this plan is that while Hindi is the predominant language in the north, it bears little relation to the Dravidian languages of the sough; and in the south very few people speak Hindi. It is from the south, particularly the state of Tamil Nadu, that the most vocal opposition to the adoption of Hindi comes, along with the strongest support for the retention of English.
For many educated Indians, English is virtually their first language, and for the large number of Indians who speak more than one language, English is often their.
The 18 Main languages in India are: Hindi The most important India language, although it is only spoken as a mother tongue by about 20 of the population- mainly in the area known as the Hindi-belt, the cow-belt or Bimaru, which includes Bihar Madaya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. This Indic language in the official language of the Indian Government, the states already mentioned, plus Haryana and Himachal pradesh.
Assamese State language of Assam, and spoken by nearly 60% of that state's population. Dates back to the 13th century.
Bengali Spoken by nearly 200 million people (mostly in what is now Bangladesh), and the state language of West Bengal, Developed as a language in the 13th century.
Gujarati State language of Gujarat, Indic.
Kannada State Language of Kamataka, spoken by about 65% of that state's population.
Kashmiri Kashmiri speakers account for about 55% of the population of Jammu & Kashmir. It is an Indic language written in the Perso-Arabic script.
Konkani Konkani is a Dravidian language spoken by people in the Goa region.
Malayalam A Dravidian language, and the state language of Kerala.
Manipuri An Indic language of the north-east region.
Marathi An Indic language dating back to around the 13th century, Marathi is the state language of Maharashtra.
Nepali Nepali is the predominant language of Sikkim, where around 75% of the people are ethnic Nepalis,
Oriya An Indic language, it is the state language of Orissa where it is spoken by 87% of the population.
Punjabi Another Indic language, this is the state language of Punjab. Although based on the same script as Hindi it is written in a 16th-century script, known as Gurumukhi, which was created by the Sikh guru. Guru Angad.
Sanskrit One of the oldest languages in the world, and the language of classical India. All the Vedas and classical literature such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana were written is this Indic language.
Sindi A significant number of Sindhi speakers are found in what is now Pakistan, although the greater number are in India. In Pakistan, the language is written in a Perso-Arabic script, while in India it uses the Devanagari script.
Tamil An ancient Dravidian language at least 2000 years old, and the state language of Tamil Nadu. It is spollin by 65 million people.
Telugu The Dravidian language spoken by the largest number of people, it is the state language of Andhra Pradesh.
Urdu Urdu is the state language of jammu & Kashmir. Along with Hindi, it evolved in early Delhi. While Hindi was largely adopted by the Hindu population, the Muslims embraced Urdu, and so the latter is written in the Perso-Arabic script and includes many Persian words.
POPULATION & PEOPLE
India has the second-largest population in the world, exceeded only by that of China. It had 439 million people in 1961, 547 million in 1971,687 million in 1981, and 843 million in 1991. Estimates for 1995 put the figure at 930 million. Despite extensive birth control programmes, it is still growing far too rapidly for comfort - around 2% per year. Yet, despite India's many large cities, the country is still overwhelmingly rural. It is estimated that about 280 million of the total population live in urban areas, but with increasing industrialization the shift from village to city continues. The Indian people are not a homogeneous group. It is quite easy lo tell the difference between the shorter Bengalis of the east, the taller and lighter-skinned people of the centre and north, the Kashmiris with their distinctly central Asian appearance, the Tibetan people of Ladakh, Sikkim and the north of Himachal Pradesh, and the dark- skinned Tamils of the south. Despite these regional variations, the government has managed to successfully establish an 'Indian' ethos and national consciousness. Although India is overwhelmingly Hindu, there are large minorities of other religions. These include around 105 million Muslims, making India one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, much larger than any of the Arab Middle East nations. Christians number about 22 million, Sikhs 18 million, Buddhists 6.6 million and Jains 4.5 million. About 7% of the population is classified as 'tribal'. They are found scattered throughout the country, although there are concentrations of them in the north-eastern corner of the country, as well as in Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The literacy rate is 53% nationally, up from 44% in 1981. Men are generally more literate than women - 64% to 39% respectively. The literacy rate varies hugely from state to state - Kerala boasts 91% literacy, while in Bihar it's 38%. Amongst the Scheduled Castes & Tribes, the literacy rates are abysmal - 28% among men and 9% among women.