The population of India, and its diversity in language

The population of India, and its diversity in language

Photo credit: PTI

The Population Census

It was in 1951 that independent and divided India's Census took place for the first time. 1951 census was also the first census to be conducted under the 1948 Census of India Act. No census was done for Jammu and Kashmir in 1951 and its figures were interpolated from 1941 and 1961 state census. 

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In 1951, at the time of the first population Census, just 18% of Indians were literate while life expectancy was 32 years. Based on the 1951 census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan (both West and East) from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan(both West and East).

YearPopulation RuralUrban
1981 683,329,097523,866,550159,462,547
1991  846,427,039628,691,676217,611,012
2001 1,028,737,436742,490,639286,119,689



2011 Language Census

In the 2011 census, as in the previous censuses, the mother tongue as returned by each individual was collected through question number 10 of Household Schedule, which was canvassed for the entire population of the country. An inventory of classified mother tongues returned by 10,000 or more speakers are grouped under appropriate languages at the all India level, wherever possible, has been prepared for the final presentation of the 2011 mother tongue data. The total number of languages arrived at is 121. The number of Scheduled languages are 22 and Non-Scheduled languages are 99. Of the total population of India, 96.71 percent have one of the Scheduled languages as their mother tongue, the remaining 3.29 percent is accounted for by other languages. 

Family-wise grouping of the 121 Scheduled and Non-Scheduled languages

Language familiesNumber of Languages Persons who returned the languages as their mother tonguePercentage to total population


***Data sourced from the Indian government's Census

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