According to the Census of India of 2011, India has 123 major languages, of which 30 were spoken by more than a million native speakers. English is used in higher education and in some areas of the Indian government. Hindi, the language most commonly spoken as a mother tongue (primary language) in India, serves as the lingua franca across much of north and central India. Bengali is the second most commonly spoken primary language, with a significant number of speakers in eastern and northeastern regions.

Other sources of language data
India Census

Language data allows humanitarian organizations to better understand the languages people speak and understand, leading to better programming and accountability. These data and maps were primarily supported by the H2H Fund, a funding mechanisms for H2H Network members. The fund is a rapid funding vehicle for network members responding to humanitarian crises.

For more information, read about the project on our blog or contact

Maps and resources:

Static map of the most common primary languages spoken throughout India. Data is from the 2011 census.

Interactive map showing the number of speakers and geographic spread of different languages in India. Data is from the 2011 census.