How do Indians understand each other, given the variety of languages spoken in India?

I was looking up the number one language spoken in the world, and not surprisingly it was Chinese/Mandarin, but what was surprising was that Hindi was not the second. Blame it on my ignorance but I had assumed the majority of Indians speak Hindi. I’m not sure what that number is, and different sources give percentage as high as 40% and as low as 20% of Indians speak Hindi. It appears that there are like 30 languages in India with at least one million speakers. Aside from Hindi, there is Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Odia, Gujarati, Punjabi, etc.

In my college, where there is a large enough group of Indian immigrants, I had always assumed they were speaking Hindi to each other but now I’m starting to think how is it that they happen to speak the same language?

My question is this: Is there a particular language, like Hindi, that all Indians are required to learn and speak (in public, at school, at work), regardless of what they speak at home? If not, are these different languages in India similar enough that people can understand each other more or less, and get the gist of the message across?

Thanks a lot


no offence intended, but… whatever

look here, information from the source: the language policy education of the current government of India

(note “scheduled language” means language with official status (listed in the “eight schedule” of the constitution - there are requests their number to be increased to 36)

You were offended a bit then, is that what you mean? I’m sorry, it was not my intention, I had just read the wiki page on the languages and thought to ask someone to explain this to me. I do appreciate the links. :slight_smile:


Well, I’m of Indian heritage, so I can see what you mean. Often, Hindi is used more often than any other language in conversation and in the workplace. But often in several areas, one language is dominant. For example, Kerala mainly uses Malayalam, and Northern India uses Hindi and Punjabi. (Forgive me if I am generalizing a little more for the sake of explaining.) Even if there isn’t a dominant language, often people speaking the same language will form closer communities than ones who don’t because of shared culture. So, a language can be a barrier, but often someone will know enough of another language to at least shop or greet other people.


I also think that first of all, it is worth paying attention to the country’s language policy in the field of education.

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Lol Idk but if your a doctor you ask or conversate with doctor things I mean in India they over 1000 thousand schools over 900 universities and 40,000 colleges, everyone is guaranteed a job . Lol anddd Hindi is basic ettiquite n the general conversation, I can ramble on in gibbrish and still come out speaking Hindi, which everyone understands, they also had the caste system long ago, idk if that helps you or not but India is the only country making up languages as they go along, I mean Russia is Russia right? Well then India is doin they’re own thing