The Census office recently released the 2011 census data on language and mother tongue. As is the case with population growth rates, the Dravidian languages, spoken in the southern states are now the mother tongue of only 18.9% Indians, down from 23% in 1971.
The Census office recently released the 2011 Census data on language and mother tongue. On account of the lower growth rate of population in the southern states, the major Dravidian languages are now the mother tongue of a lesser proportion of Indians compared to 1971. Hindi is now the mother tongue of 43.63% Indians compared to 36.99% in 1971.
Scheduled languages still the most widely spoken
The 22 languages included in the 8th schedule of the constitution account for the mothe tongue of 96.72% Indians as per the 2011 census. This has been more or less consistent at around 97% since 1971 except for the year 1981. As far as the 1981 census is concerned , the full figures for Tamil are not available as the records were lost in floods. Similarly, the 1981 census could not be conducted in Assam because of disturbed conditions. Hence the figures for even 1981 could have been similar if they were part of the census.
Hindi is the most widely spoken
Among the 22 scheduled languages, the most widely spoken language is Hindi. As per the 2011 census, 43.63% Indians reported Hindi as their mother tongue. Bengali with 8.03% is next in the list. Marathi was reported as the mother tongue by 6.86% whereas Telugu was reported by 6.7%. Tamil with 5.7% is the only other language to be reported as the mother tongue by more than 5% of the population. In all, 13 of the 22 scheduled languages were reported as the mother tongue by at least 1% of the population. In other words, each of the 13 languages (out of the 22 scheduled languages) is the mother tongue of at least 1 crore Indians. Except for Sanskrit, each of the 21 scheduled languages was reported as the mother tongue by at least 10 lakh people. Sanskrit is the only language to have been reported by a negligible set of people (about 25000).
Major Dravidian languages lose their share
As is the case with population growth rates, the percentage of Indians who reported one of the four major Dravidian languages as their mother tongue has gone down significantly since 1971. The four major Dravidian languages (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada & Malayalam) were reported as the mother tongue by 23% Indians in the 1971 census. It has come down to 18.89% in the 2011 census. In terms of proportion, the major Dravidian languages lost close to 18% in these 40 years. On the other hand, the percentage of Indians who reported Hindi as their mother tongue increased from 36.99% in 1971 to 43.63% in 2011, owing to the higher population growth rate of the Hindi speaking states.Among the four languages, Malayalam, Telugu & Tamil have seen significant reduction in their share. Malayalam, which was reported as the mother tongue by 4% Indians in 1971 is now down to 2.88%. Telugu on the other hand decreased from 8.16% in 1971 to 6.7% in 2011.