The face that as many as 1,652 languages and dialects ore spoken in India is a proof of the country's amazing diversity. Broadly, these languages belong to the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian families of languages, though some Indo-European languages are also spoken and understood by some of the people in India.
The Indo-Aryan languages, including Hindi, Bihori, Rajasthani, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Sanskrit, Kashmiri, Sindhi and Punjabi cover about three-fourths of India's population. Among these, Hindi alone, is spoken by about 38 per cent of the Indians and understood by most of the inhabitants of northern India as almost all the languages of the north contain elements of basic Hindustani.
The languages of the southern India, viz., Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, belong to the Dravidian family and bear little resemblance to Hindi except for some expressions of Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindu scriptures.
Of the Indo-European languages, English is the most widely used one and is common medium of instruction and learning in the institutions imparting higher education. Besides English, which emerged as the language of the elite under the British rule and continues to hold its sway in the large metropolitan cities, French and Portuguese languages are also used by some people in the erstwhile colonial territories of Pondicherry and Goa.
The Constitution of India recognises 18 major languages, which are specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. These are: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Manipuri, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Hindi is the official language of India and English is an associate language.
The inter-State frontiers of the Union of India were delineated on the linguistic basis with a view to bringing people who speak the same language and the related dialects under one administration.