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Language Atlas of India

Published: 4th Mar, 2024

Context

In light of India's focus on promoting education in mother tongue languages, a proposed linguistic survey by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) aims to determine the actual number of "active" languages spoken across the country, highlighting the significance of preserving linguistic diversity.

Dimension 1: need of Language Atlas of India?

  • Mapping the diversity: Given the diversity, there is an urgent need to carry out a comprehensive linguistic survey in order to create the Language Atlas of India.
  • Knowing numbers: The survey would help to focus on the number of languages and dialects in India.
  • Knowing scrips and dialects: It would also try to know how many languages are spoken in India, and how many scripts and dialects there are.
    • IGNCA has identified the Central Institute of Indian Languages, the National Museum, Centres for Endangered Languages, and the Linguistic Departments of various universities as potential partners and collaborators in carrying out the survey.

Fact Box: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)

  • Established in: 1987
  • IGNCA was established as an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts.
  • The Arts’ encompass a wide range of subjects – from archaeology and anthropology to the visual and performing arts, enveloping them in a complementary and non-demarcated vision.

How diverse is India’s language map?

  • India recognises 22 languages officially, which are part of Schedule 8 of the Indian Constitution.
  • According to Census data, 97 % of the Indian population speaks one of these languages.
  • There are an additional 99 non-scheduled languages included in the Census, and according to the 2011 Census, around 8 million people identify one of these non-Scheduled languages as their mother tongue.
  • The native language of 2 million people remains unaccounted for due to the decision to not include languages with less than 10,000 speakers in the Census since 1971.
  • Many of these languages not recorded in the official Census records are spoken by tribal communities.

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