There are 22 major languages spoken in India, with over 720 different dialects. Hindi is the most commonly spoken language, about 57% of the population speak Hindi. English is the second most commonly spoken language in India, with about 10% of the nation speaking English. After the African continent, India is the most linguistically diverse geographical entity on the planet. Never fear that you won’t be able to get by without a translator, with around one in ten people speaking English, you’ll never be that lost.
There are two major linguistic families in India:
- The Indo-Aryan, spoken by 74% of the population. They comprise much of India, except for the southern parts.
- The Dravidian, spoken by about 24% of the Indian population. They populate much of south India – states like Kannada, Telugu and Tamil.
English has the status of a subsidiary official language; is used extensively in business and administration, and in higher education, like universities. English is also used in the Supreme court and High court in India. The Indian legal system is based on English common law, much like other Commonwealth countries (Australia, Canada etc.).
Hindi, being the most spoken language in the country, is the official language of the union. Hindi has its early forms in the Vedic Sanskrit language, and the writing system for Hindi uses Devanagari braille. Every state and union have their own official languages, and as previously mentioned, there are around 22 major languages (including Hindi and English), which are recognised by the constitution. These languages are recognised because they are either abundantly spoken in the country, or because they have a classical status. Sanskrit and Tamil have been studied as classical languages for many years, but the Government of India has also awarded this status to Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, and Telugu.
In addition, every state and union territory have their own official languages, and the constitution also recognises in particular 21 other languages that are either abundantly spoken or have classical status. While Sanskrit and Tamil have been studied as classical languages for many years, the Government of India, has accorded classical language status to Kannada and Telugu. The number of dialects in India is as high as 1,652.
India is one of the most spiritually diverse places on the planet. It is the home of many religions. Over 800 million Indians are Hindu, about 80.5% of the population. Muslims constitute around 13.4% of the population, Christians around 2.3%, the Sikhs in the north around 1.9%, Buddhists (0.8%), Jains (0.4%), Jews, Zoroastrians and others. There are many other tribal ethnicities, particularly in rural regions, which make up about 8.1% of the population. India has the highest population of Muslims in the world for a non-Muslim majority country, and the third-highest population in the world.
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