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Most common languages spoken in India 2011

Hindi, with over 528 million native speakers was the most spoken language across Indian homes, followed by Bengali with 97 million speakers, as of 2011 census data. English native speakers accounted for about 260 thousand during the measured time period.

The colonial rule in India

One of the most remarkable and widespread legacies that the British colonial rule left behind was the English language. Before independence, the English language was the solely used for higher education and in government and administrative processes. Post-independence, however, and till today, Hindi was claimed as the language with official government patronage. This lead to resistance from the southern states of India, where Hindi did not have prominence. Consequently, the Official Languages Act of 1963, was enacted by the parliament, which ensured the continued use of English for official purposes in conjunction with Hindi.

Multi-linguistic cultures

India has approximately 22 major languages that are written in about 13 different scripts. While the country’s official languages are both, English and Hindi, Hindi remains the most preferred language used online especially in the northern rural areas. The use of English is becoming increasingly popular in the urban areas. In addition, almost every state in India has its own official language that is studied in primary and secondary school as an obligatory second language. Among the most prominent are Bengali, Marathi, and Telugu.

Most common languages spoken in India in 2011

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Supplementary notes

*The figures reflect the number of speakers who speak the language as their mother tongue.

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