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Linguistic diversity in India |Cultural Setting | Geography of India

Regionalism, Communalism, and Terrorism are serious threats to the National unity of India. Although linguistic diversity increases the regionalism feeling it is not a threat to national unity. Linguistic diversity increases the beauty of cultural richness.

The language was one of the major problems in Post-Independence, and still, there is much friction in India because of language.

There are five different language families:

  • Indo Aryan
  • Dravidian
  • Austro-Asiatic( Khasi, Munda)
  • Tibeto Burmese ( Manipuri, Bodo, Bhotia)
  • Semito-Hamitic ( Afro-Asiatic/Arabic)

Constitutional Provision and languages census of India:

As per Article 343, India does not have national languages but India does have official languages Hindi and English.

India recognized 22 languages in the 8th schedule

Some classical languages are also recognized:

  • Sanskrit
  • Tamil
  • Malayalam
  • Telugu
  • Kannad
  • Odia

Constitution also ensures the right of every citizen to represent in any language or speak or work with any language.

The following are some data about languages in India:

  • As per the 1961 census, there is 1,652 major language in India.
  • As per the 2011 census,
  • There are 121 languages recognized by the government has it has at least 10,000 speakers
  • There are 14 languages that have at least 1 crore speaker
  • As of now,
  • 87 languages used in Print media
  • 71 languages used in Radio broadcasting
  • 15 languages used for administration
  • 47 languages used media of instruction in school

Linguistic Diversity in the North Eastern States:

  • The Northern States are full of cultural and linguistic diversity, each tribal group has its own culture and languages. 
  • There are approx 200 languages in northeastern states, belonging to three major languages categories:
  • Tibeto-Burmese
  • Indo-Aryan:
    • Mostly spoken in Assam, For example, Assamese, Bodo, and Bengali belong to the Indo-Aryan language family.
  • Austro-Asiatic:
    • Only the Khasi language in Meghalyas belongs to the Austro-Asiatic language family. It also gives proves that the Meghalaya plateau was part of peninsular India.

Language Diversity of Southern India:

  • All languages in southern India belong to the Dravidian family.
  • Telugu is the most spoken language in the Dravidian family and the third most spoken after Hindi and Bengali in India.

Current Issues:

Languages remain a matter of concern as most tribal, minor languages are yet to be recognized and used in social education.

Three language formulas in our present education system:

  • Every study has to study at least three modern languages including two Indian languages and one English language.
  • First language; 
    • Mother tongue or regional language
  • Second Language: 
    • For Hindi speaking states; other modern languages or English
    • For non-Hindi states; Hindi or English or other than mother tongues
  • Third languages;
    • Other modern languages are not covered in a first and second language.

Linguistic states helped to strengthen Indian society:

  • In 1920, Indian National Congress supported the state on the languages line
  • In 1947, People demanded separate states as per the language line, but Indian National Congress hesitated to create a state on the basis of language because of fears of separation.
  • In October 1953, Potti Sriromula, a Former Gandhian died after seven weeks of fasting to death; leads to violence; as a result, Andhra Pradesh was created 
  • In 1956, the State reorganization Commission was set up and helped to create many states in the line of languages. It helped to divide India. As we can see, 
    • Pakistan was divided because did not recognize the Punjabi and Bengali languages speakers.
    • Civil War spreads in Sri Lanka over the Tamil language.

Why language should be preserved?

  • Language is a key element of culture, for cultural identity and identity preservation, language must be preserved.
  • Language diversity increases the cultural richness and the beauty of linguistic diversity can be get from literature from Sanskrit, Bengali, Tamil, Kannad, etc.
  • Knowledge of different languages increases innovation and creativity
  • Languages keep traditional knowledge and regional skill.
  • Mother tongue language is key for expressing yourself.

Try to solve the following questions:

  •  Examine the genesis of Racial diversity in India(UPSC)
  •  Critically assess the vanishing ethnic linguistic plurality of India. (UPSC 2018, 200 words, 15 marks)
  • Point out the ethnic disparities in the N.E. India. (UPSC, 2016)
  • Linguistic diversity in Northeastern states. ( UPSC 2012)
  • Describe the impact of linguistic diversity on the development of various regions of India. (UPSC 2013)

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