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Census dispels Hindi myth, only 25 pc in India claim Hindi is their mother tongue

The NDA government's eagerness to promote Hindi on social media platforms has led to a controversy.

D P Satish | IBNLive.comdp_satish

Updated:June 20, 2014, 1:18 PM IST
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Census dispels Hindi myth, only 25 pc in India claim Hindi is their mother tongue
The NDA government's eagerness to promote Hindi on social media platforms has led to a controversy.
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New Delhi: The newly elected BJP led NDA government's eagerness to promote Hindi on social media platforms has led to a controversy dividing the people on language lines. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju has defended the Centre's decision to promote Hindi. BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has made a misplaced argument defending the use of Hindi saying that it will dispel the perception that only English speakers are intelligent.

But, the people who are opposing the 'imposition' of Hindi claim that a Hindi versus English debate has now become a Hindi versus rest of the Indian languages debate. They argue that the Centre can promote Hindi in Hindi speaking states and may even replace English with Hindi in these states. But, it must not do the same in non-Hindi speaking states.

The claims that Hindi is our national language have also attracted huge criticism. According to the Indian Constitution, all 15 major languages in the country are considered national languages and Hindi and English are the two main official languages.

Even though the supporters of Hindi are claiming that over 70 per cent of India speaks Hindi, the reality speaks of a different situation. According to 2001 Census figures, just 45 per cent people speak or know Hindi. But, just 25 per cent people in India have declared Hindi as their mother tongue. A little over 25 crore actually speak Hindi, says Census 2001.

The remaining people speak variants of Hindi like Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili, Garhwali, Dogri, Rajasthani, Marwari, Haryanvi etc. All put together, the speakers of Hindi and its dialects are about 45 per cent.

It proves that remaining 55 per cent speak non-Hindi languages and the majority people in India don't even know Hindi.

According to the 2001 Census, 42 crore people speak or understand Hindi all over India. But, only 25 crore declared Hindi as their mother tongue. 8.5 crore people speak Bengali, 7.5 crore people speak Telugu, 7 crore speak Marathi and 6 crore speak Tamil.

5 crore speak Urdu, 4.6 crore speak Gujarati, 4 crore speak Kannada, 3.5 crore speak Malayalam, 3.3 crore speak Oriya, 3 crore speak Punjabi, 1.5 crore speak Assamese, 64 lakh speak Santhali and 55 lakh speak Kashmiri languages.

People in the north eastern states speak more than 50 different dialects. Tribals in non-Hindi speaking and non-north eastern states also speak different dialects. These dialects have nothing to do with Hindi or its variants. The languages like Konkani, Tulu, Kodava, Beary, which are spoken in Karnataka also have nothing to do with Hindi.

Experts argue that the Centre must carefully look into the Census data before claiming that over 70 per cent speaks or understands Hindi. Eminent modern historian and writer Ramachandra Guha in a tweet said, "One should remember that Pakistan split, and Sri Lanka plunged into civil war, because of the mistaken belief in a single national language."

With Tamil politicians who have been vehemently opposing the Hindi hegemony or imposition warning the Centre to modify its circular to promote Hindi, the issue is likely to rock the Budget Session of Parliament.

What India speaks

HINDI

Mother tongue of 25 per cent Indians

More than 41 per cent Indians claim that they know Hindi

BENGALI

Mother tongue of 8 per cent Indians

TELUGU

Mother tongue of 7 per cent Indians

MARATHI

Mother tongue of 7 per cent Indians

TAMIL

Mother tongue of 6 per cent Indians

URDU

Mother tongue of 5 per cent Indians

GUJARATI

Mother tongue of 4 per cent Indians

KANNADA

Mother tongue of 4 per cent Indians

MALAYALAM

Mother tongue of 3 per cent Indians

ORIYA

Mother tongue of 3 per cent Indians

PUNJABI

Mother tongue of 3 per cent Indians

ASSAMESE

Mother tongue of 1 per cent Indians

Source: Census 2001

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