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