Language and Literature

Indian Language and Literature

India has nothing less than 1652 mother tongues, if all the various dialects of each parent language are to be included! Enough to confuse a linguist. But not so for a multitude of cultural groups in continuous flux. Most of the languages are limited to a small number of peoples, and only 33 of them are spoken by more than a lakh people.

¤ Hindi – The official Language of India

The Indian Constitution (Article 343) declares Hindi to be the official language of the Union. The Khariboli dialect written in the Devanagri script is the chosen one. Hindi is also the mother tongue of about 20% of the Indian population, in the area known as the ‘Hindi-belt’ or the ‘cow-belt’ of northern India.

This includes the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh also have Hindi as their official language. Like the other languages of the north, it is of an Indo-Aryan origin. But in south India, it’s quite a different scene altogether. The Dravidian languages bear little resemblance to their Indic or Indo-Aryan counterparts.

English remains the additional official language; it is the authoritative legislative and judicial language. In fact, one could say that English is the official language in India for all practical purposes.

Apart from the more widely spoken English and Hindi, there are the various regional languages. Each state has its own language which is also its official language. The Constitution of India lists 18 such regional languages.