HYDERABAD: Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent comment, that Hindi is a unifying language, evoked protests by many people, especially in the south-Indian states. However, an analysis of changing linguistic patterns in 14 major cities between the 1991 and 2011 censuses shows that the number of Hindi speakers is increasing everywhere — even in south-India — though there has been no decline in the population of native-language speakers.
Rather, the percentage of Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam-speaking people increased — from 35.8, 76.7, 91.9 and 94.3, to 42.3, 78.3, 92.7 and 97.1 per cent of the total population — in Bengaluru, Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram, respectively, the analysis by researchers from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)-Mumbai revealed.
The percentage of Hindi-speaking people rose from 1.57, 2.11, 2.93 and 6.87 per cent, to 2.15, 3.43, 5.64 and 7.38 per cent in Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad respectively. Thiruvananthapuram has the smallest share of Hindi speakers, at 0.29 per cent.
The increase in the number of Hindi speakers in south Indian cities can be attributed to the decline in the population of speakers of other languages in non-native cities. For example, in Bengaluru, which has witnessed many anti-Hindi protests, the percentage of Telugu and Tamil-speaking population declined by 1.2 and 6.2 per cent respectively, while the percentage of the Kannada and Hindi-speaking population increased.