India — its ancient name "Bhaarat" as written in eight of its most widely spoken languages. Derived from the words (in Sanskrit) "Bhr"-Bear or carry and "rata"-the search for, to be engaged in, to love.
Click here for links to more languages spoken by 20 million or more in India — Kannada, Maithili, Malayalam, Nepali, Odia and Sindhi.

English, according to the census, is spoken by 125 million of the people. Click here for some background to England's Presidents, Residents, and Governors in India 1612 - 1947

  1. भारत Play in the Devanagari script used for writing the official Hindi language — 260 million native speakers. Came from the original Brahmi script that was used to write the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit language, with early universities formed at Taxila about 200BC, and Nalanda, and later at Vikramashila. However, minimal written records exist today prior to 1100AD. See further notes here
  2. بھارت Play in the Perso-Arabic script used for writing Urdu — 65 million native speakers in India, 16 million in Pakistan. It is a language that developed in India during the 16th century. When the Turkic conqueror Babur brought northern India under the rule of his Mughal (Mongol) army, the language became a version of royal Persian, perhaps as much as 70%, blended with Turkish and Arabic.
    Its name is derived from the Turkic word "Ordu" meaning a "Horde or Army", and when the Emperor Shah Jahan built a new walled city in Delhi in 1639, the market close to the royal army fort was known as Urdu Bazar. About 1800 the British referred to the language as Urdu, subsequently declaring Hindi and Urdu to be two dialects in the one language, a Persian name — "Hindustani" — as both dialects tended to be mutually intelligible. In 1947, Urdu and English became official languages of Pakistan. However, to further complicate matters, the third language, Punjabi is the one most frequently spoken in Pakistan today.
  3. ਭਾਰਤ Play in the Punjabi language — 122 million native speakers, about 30 million in India, over 90 million in Pakistan — having two scripts. India uses this Gurmukhi script designed by early Sikh gurus. Its chief centre is the Golden Temple in Amritsar completed in 1577.
    In Pakistan where a Perso-Arabic alphabet is employed by Muslims, it uses the Shahmukhi script that dates back to 500AD. The script differs from the Urdu alphabet by having four additional letters.
  4. ભારત Play in the Gujarati language and script is used by the Gujarat people — 49 million native speakers — in western India. Spoken by Mahatma Ghandi.
  5. ভারত Play in the Bengali language and script — 300 million native speakers — is used in Bangladesh.
  6. భారత్ Play in the Telugu language and script — 74 million native speakers — is used in South-east India.
  7. The Marathi language — 73 million native speakers — is used in Maharashtra in western India, and employs the Devanagari script (see number 1 above).
  8. இந்தியா Play in the Tamil language and script — 70 million native speakers — and is pronounced as "India" in southern India.

Question on Quora
Do a majority of Indians understand/speak Hindi? If I learned Hindi would I be able to communicate with the majority of people in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal?

Originally answered February 24, 2015
Gokul Girish,
Master's from Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad (2017)

It depends a lot on where in India you want to go. Except for Tamil Nadu in the south east (with a population of 84 million) and Kerala in the south west (with a population of 35 million), almost everyone understands and uses conversational Hindi (or its derivatives). Rural West Bengal again an exception as not many people know the language there.

Pakistan (population 218 million) The entire population knows Urdu or other dialects that are mutually intelligible with Hindi.

Bangladesh (population 164 million) I suppose around 10-20% of the population will know Hindi but their main language Bangla is closely related to Hindi so it won't be that hard to get by.

Nepal (population almost 30 million) Nepali is again closely related to Hindi so most of the Nepalis will understand the language.

Sri Lanka (population 21 million) Less than 10% will know Hindi as their main language (Sinhalese) and the second language (Tamil) are both very distinct from Hindi.

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