In the European Parliament, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee year of the European Union, the former president of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam said- ” I am reminder of the dream of Indian poet ”Kaniyan Poongkundranaar” who articulated 3000 years back in Tamil Classic Purananuru- ”Yaadhum Oorae Yaavarum Kaeleer” which means ” I am a world citizen, every citizen is my own kith and kin” Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, came from the minority section of India and he ended up becoming the president of a Hindu majority nation. He was adored and admired by the people from all backgrounds and age groups.
Religions of India
Around the world, there are many people who continue to think that India is only about Hindi and Hindus. There is absolutely no doubt that India is a birthplace of all Dharmic traditions. Hindus are a majority in the country and Hindi is spoken by millions of people. India has a variety of religions and languages. Apart from the religions like Islam, Christianity and other Dharmic traditions of India which are very well-known, there are also many people in India who follow Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Baha’i faith. Not many people know that India is also home to many other lesser known religions like Bathouism, Sarnaism, Sanamahism, Donyi-Polo and the religion of Santhal people etc.
Languages of India
India has 22 official languages and English is an additional official language. Languages like Portuguese and French are also spoken among some people in India, especially in the parts of India which were former colonies of France and Portugal. But, the actual language diversity of India is much more. According to People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI), India has over 780 languages and 66 different scripts and the researchers believe that there should be at least a hundred more languages that couldn’t be reported in this survey. You will be surprised to know that just Arunachal Pradesh has 90 languages. West Bengal has the most number of scripts among all states as it has nine different scripts. Assam with its 55 languages, Gujarat with its 48, Maharashtra with its 39 are some of the most linguistically diverse states of India. However, in the 2001 Census of India, in which a different way of calculations was used, it was reported that there are 1599 other languages and 122 major languages.
As far as Sanskrit is concerned, it is still spoken in a few villages of India and some of them are Jhiri of Madhya Pradesh, Hoshalli and Mattur of Karnataka and Sasana of Orrisa. It is said that Sanskrit has a strong influence on many Indian languages and it is important to point out that even today, Sanskrit continues to be widely used in everyday prayers, wedding ceremonies, cremation ceremonies and many other important religious events of Hindus across India regardless of what their regional language is.
But all is not well with India’s languages. Many of them are slowly disappearing. It is estimated that around 220 languages have disappeared in the last 50 years and another 150 could go extinct in the next five decades. As a country, India is blessed to have such an amazing diversity and pluralism and it is going to be interesting to see what steps the people of India take to protect their heritage and diversity.