01.01.03. Key languages, ethnic groups and minority groups | India

01.01.03. Key languages, ethnic groups and minority groups | India

05 Jul 2022

Key Languages

The Indian Constitution recognises 22 different languages, with Hindi as the official national language (Know India, 2020). As a multilingual country, India has one classical language known as ‘Sanskrit’, 14 modern languages, and 300 other tribal and minority languages (Fase et al., 1992).

Furthermore, most of the speech communities in India have more than one ‘language dialect’ (Fase et al., 1992). States have “linguistic autonomy”, which allows them to have their own official language along with both Hindi (national language) and English as associate languages (Fase et al., 1992, pp. 254).

Ethnic groups

There are three major ethnic groups: Dravidian (predominantly South India), Indo-Aryan (North and Central India), and Mongoloid (predominantly North-Eastern India) (Ali, 2019). In terms of religion, India is a multi-religious country in which Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are all practiced. However, Hinduism is the dominant religion.


Ali, E. (2019). Ethnic Composition of Indian Population. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332781388_Ethnic_Composition_of_Indian_Population

Fase, W., Jaspaert, K., & Kroon, S. (1992). Maintenance and loss of minority languages. J. Benjamins.

Know India. (2020). India at a Glance. Government of India. Available from https://knowindia.india.gov.in/profile/india-at-a-glance.php