How many languages in India? – There are 22 officially recognized languages spoken in India which have been added to our Indian constitution according to the eight schedules of our constitution. Here, In this post, we will cover official languages in India.
“Art and Culture” is one of the most important topics asked in the General Studies and General Knowledge” Section of many competitive exams like UPSC CSE, State PCS, CDS, NDA, FSSAI, SSC, and Others. we are providing students important topics that are the favourite to most of the examiners while framing questions. “Languages in India” is a part of this series and in this post, we are providing students with comprehensive notes on this topic. Sources of our notes are different government portals like “cultural India“, “Incredible India“, “Ministry of Culture” for the latest updates and many competitive books like NIOS, IGNOU, NCERT, the National Museum site for pictures and Wikipedia for static parts.
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Languages in India
India, with its remarkable linguistic diversity, proudly recognizes multiple official languages at the national and state levels. This unique feature reflects the country’s commitment to preserving and promoting its rich linguistic heritage while fostering inclusivity and unity among its diverse population. In this essay, we explore the official languages in India, their significance, and the role they play in shaping the cultural fabric of the nation.
How many languages in India
India is known for its incredible linguistic diversity, with a vast number of languages spoken across the country. According to the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), conducted between 2010 and 2013, there are over 780 languages spoken in India. These include both major languages and numerous regional and tribal languages.
It’s important to note that the number of languages in India can be subjective, as there are dialects and variations within languages that might be considered separate languages by some and dialects by others. Additionally, languages are dynamic and can evolve over time.
While there are over 780 languages documented in India, it’s worth mentioning that the 22 languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution are officially recognized languages. These include Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.
India’s linguistic landscape is incredibly diverse and reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage and the coexistence of numerous linguistic traditions.
Official Languages in India
India, as a linguistically diverse nation, recognizes multiple languages at the national and state levels. The Indian constitution recognizes 22 officially recognized languages, including Hindi and English as the two languages for communication at the national level.
At the state level, each state has the freedom to designate its own official language(s). For instance, Bengali is the official language of West Bengal, while Tamil holds official status in Tamil Nadu. This language policy plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting linguistic diversity and cultural identity across the country.
Below is a list of the official languages in India as recognized in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, along with the year they were added to the Constitution:
- Assamese – Added in 1960
- Bengali – Added in 1961
- Bodo – Added in 2003
- Dogri – Added in 2003
- Gujarati – Added in 1960
- Hindi – Included from the beginning
- Kannada – Added in 1963
- Kashmiri – Added in 2004
- Konkani – Added in 1992
- Maithili – Added in 2003
- Malayalam – Added in 1967
- Manipuri (also known as Meitei or Meithei) – Added in 1992
- Marathi – Included from the beginning
- Nepali – Added in 1992
- Odia – Added in 1950
- Punjabi – Added in 1966
- Sanskrit – Added in 1970
- Santali – Added in 2003
- Sindhi – Added in 1967
- Tamil – Added in 1967
- Telugu – Added in 1956
- Urdu – Added in 1967
These 22 languages have been given official recognition by the Indian Constitution, acknowledging their importance and promoting their use in various official capacities at the national level.
Classical Languages in India
India is home to several classical languages, which have a long history, rich literature, and a significant cultural legacy. The classical status of a language in India is granted based on its antiquity, the presence of ancient texts and literature, and its influence on cultural and intellectual development. Currently, there are six languages that hold the classical status in India:
- Sanskrit is the mother of many Indian languages.
- The Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, and Dharmasutras are all written in Sanskrit.
- It is one of the twenty-two languages listed in the Indian Constitution.
- The Dharmasutras, the Manusmriti, Arthashastra, and Gita Govinda are famous books in Sanskrit.
- Panini, Kautilya, Kalhana, and Jayadeva are famous writers of Sanskrit.
Pali is an Indo-Aryan language, which was used for the earliest Buddhist scriptures. Pali literature is mainly concerned with Theravada Buddhism.
- The Vijayanagara period was the golden age of Telugu literature.
- Eight Telugu literary luminaries are popularly known as Ashtadiggajas.
- Ramakrishna was the author of Panduranga Mahatmayam, which was considered one of the greatest poetical works of Telugu literature.
- The Kannada language developed fully after the AD 10th century. The earliest known literary work in Kannada is Kavirajamarg, written by the Rashtrakuta King Nripatunga Amoghavargha l.
- Pampa, known as the father of Kannada, wrote his great poetic works Adi Purana and Vikramarjiva Vijaya in the AD 10th century.
- The language of Malayalam emerged around the AD 11th century. By the 15th century, Malayalam was recognized as an independent language.
- Bhasa Kautilya, a commentary on Arthashastra and Kokashndisam are two great works.
- Rama Panikkar and Ramanujan Ezhuthachan are well known authors of Malayalam literature.
- Tamil is the mother language of the Dravidian language family.
- The Sangam literature is a collection of long and short poems composed by various poets in praise of numerous heroes and heroines.
- There are about 30000 lines of poetry, which are arranged in eight anthologies called Ettuttokai.
Persian and Urdu
- Urdu emerged as an independent language towards the end of the AD 4th century.
- Urdu as a language was born out of the interaction between Hindi and Persian.
- Urdu became more popular in the early 18th century.
- The earliest Urdu poet is supposed to be Khusrau.
- Urdu has given us a new form of a poem, that is called a nazm.
- Hindi is a direct descendant of the Sanskrit language, through Prakrit and Apabhramsha.
- It is spoken largely in North India.
- The evolution of Hindi literature can be better understood through four stages of Adi Kal, Bhakti Kal, Riti-kavya Kal, and Adhunik Kal.
FAQs on languages in India
Q: How many languages are spoken in India?
A: India is known for its linguistic diversity, and there are over 780 languages spoken in the country.
Q: What are the official languages of India?
A: The official languages of India, as recognized by the Indian Constitution, are Hindi and English at the national level. Additionally, each state in India can designate its own official language(s), resulting in a diverse range of recognized regional languages.
Q: What are the major language families in India?
A: The major language families in India include Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austroasiatic, and Tibeto-Burman. Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindi and Bengali, are the most widely spoken, followed by Dravidian languages like Tamil and Telugu.
Q: How are languages protected and promoted in India?
A: The Indian government takes various measures to protect and promote languages in the country. This includes establishing language academies, funding language research, providing educational opportunities in regional languages, and conducting language revitalization programs for endangered languages.
Q: Are there any classical languages in India?
A: Yes, there are six classical languages recognized in India: Sanskrit, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Odia. These languages have a rich history, ancient literature, and significant cultural influence.
Q: How do languages contribute to cultural identity in India?
A: Languages in India are deeply intertwined with cultural identity. They shape traditions, literature, music, and art forms. Regional languages serve as a bridge that connects people within communities and reflect the distinct cultural heritage of different regions.
Q: Are there any endangered languages in India?
A: Yes, India is home to several endangered languages. Rapid urbanization, globalization, and cultural shifts have led to the decline of certain languages. Efforts are being made to document and revitalize endangered languages to preserve India’s linguistic heritage.
Q: How do languages impact education in India?
A: Education in India is often conducted in multiple languages, depending on the region and the official language(s) of the state. Regional languages are emphasized in primary education to facilitate effective learning and preserve linguistic diversity.