Language Atlas of India, 2011
The Language Atlas of India 2011 is a cartographic attempt to record and publish data on languages and its distribution. It uses information recorded and published as a part of Census 2011. The first language atlas used data from the 1991 census and was published in 2004.
Given that this project gives us a locational distribution of languages in India, the Atlas is a joint venture of the language division and the maps division. A ‘speaker’ of a language, in this Atlas, is someone who has returned the language as their mother tongue in Census 2011. The national rate of bilingualism in Census 2011 is at an all-time high – more than 26 per cent of the population.
This Atlas has 74 maps with notes and has been divided into six sections: General (Chapter 1), Family-wise languages (Chapter 2), Scheduled Languages (Chapter 3), Non-Scheduled Languages (Chapter 4), Biligualism and trilingualism (Chapter 5) and Mother tongues and Scheduled Tribes (Chapter 6).
This report studies the languages and speakers of 121 languages as detailed in the Indian Census of 2011.
The Atlas defines ‘mother tongue’ – in keeping with Census 2011 – as “the language spoken in childhood by the person’s mother to the person. If the mother died in infancy, the language mainly spoken in the person’s home in childhood will be the mother tongue. In case of infants and deaf mutes the language usually spoken by the mother should be recorded. In case of doubt, the language mainly spoken in the household may be recorded.”
The languages of India have been divided into five distinct families out of which 78.07 per cent people speak Indo-European languages, 19.64 per cent speak Dravidian languages, 1.11 per cent speak Austro-Asiatic languages, 1.01 per cent speak Tibeto-Burmese languages.
The rate of bilingualism is low to moderate (11-40 per cent) among speakers of scheduled languages as opposed to non-scheduled language speakers.
There are 22 Scheduled languages as per the Eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution. Most number of Scheduled language speakers are found in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Hindi is the official language of India and 43.63 per cent of the country’s population speaks it. The speakers are primarily residents of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
0.24 per cent of the country’s population speaks Nepali with a substantial share of speakers being from Sikkim (62.6 per cent).
Only 0.002 per cent of the country’s population speak Sanskrit as their mother tongue with most of them living in Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
About 0.02 per cent of the country’s population returned English as their mother tongue in Census 2011. Most of them live in Maharashtra.
There are 71 ‘mother tongues’ spoken by various major Scheduled tribes in the country which have been listed in this Atlas.
Focus and Factoids by Fiona Raval.
Office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner
Government of India