New Delhi: Number of Indians who used to refer Urdu as their mother tongue has declined by about 1.58%, the latest Census data released Friday said.
Urdu dropped from the 6th place in 2001 (51 million speakers) to the 7th place in 2011 with 50 million people mentioning it as their mother tongue. Gujarati, which was ranked 7th in 2001 with 46 million speakers, moved ahead of Urdu to occupy the 6th spot with 55 million speakers in 2011, according to the Census data.
Urdu is normally considered as the preferred language of Indian Muslims, though there are a good number of non-Muslims who are "proud speakers" of the language. Interestingly, the number of Urdu speakers has fallen despite the Muslim population increasing by around 30 million between 2001 and 2011.
Hindi was the fastest growing language in India at 25.19% adding close to a 100 million speakers between 2001-2011. Kashmiri (22.97%), Gujarat (20.4%), Manipuri (20.07%), and Bengali (16.63%) are the second, third and fourth fastest growing languages, respectively, the latest Census data said.
There are now 260,000 people who refer English as their mother tongue - up from 226,000 in 2001 and an increase of 14.67%. The most number of English speakers are from Maharashtra (104,000) followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Sanskrit remains the least spoken among the scheduled languages – officially recognised – with 24,821 speakers despite an increase of 76% from 2001. Marathi speakers on the other hand, went up to 7.09 per cent from 6.99 per cent.
The census data confirms that 96.71 per cent of the population identified one of the 22 scheduled languages as their mother tongue. Among scheduled languages, Assamese is another language that has shown growth in the last census. Assamese speakers grew by 16.27 per cent from the 2001 census.
Out of unscheduled languages, the most spoken language was Bhili or Bhilodi, native to Rajasthan and spoken by 1.04 crore speakers.
In Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya, over 80 percent of the population spoke ‘Other Languages’.
Arunachal Pradesh also had a fair share of people (72.13 percent) who spoke other languages. A 2013 linguistics survey carried out by People's Linguistic Survey of India had revealed that India has 780 different languages and at least 66 different scripts.
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