What percentage of people prefer to speak Hindi across States?

Photo for representation only.  

People in only 12 out of 35 States (Figures are for undivided Andhra Pradesh) and Union Territories had overwhelmingly chosen Hindi as the first choice for communication. Among the rest, while a few chose Hindi as their second or third language of communication, a majority of them chose English, according to the results of the 2011 language Census released in 2018. About 43.63% of the total population said their mother tongue was Hindi.

Which Indian States are primarily Hindi-speaking according to the language Census? The 2011 Census data shows that most Indian States, apart from a handful of States in northern and central India, do not primarily speak Hindi but have adopted the language as a secondary language. Most southern and northeastern States are not Hindi-speaking and have adopted English as their secondary language.

State-wise split

The map below shows the State-wise percentage of people who stated that Hindi was their first, second, or third choice of language. Most of the 12 States and UTs that chose Hindi as their first choice were located in northern and central India — over 96% of the population in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh speak Hindi.

The share of Hindi-speaking people in Gujarat is  significantly lower than most States. The southern and north-eastern States, apart from Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, have the lowest proportion of Hindi-speaking population among all States.

image/svg+xml Uttar Pradesh | 97.4 Uttarakhand | 97.2 Kerala | 9.12 Tamil Nadu | 2.11

Native vs. non-native speakers

The chart plots the share of primary Hindi speakers against general speakers of the language in Indian States. Here, primary speakers refer to those whose first language is Hindi and general speakers include primary speakers and those whose subsidiary language is Hindi.

In 23 States and UTs, Hindi was not the first choice of language. Of the 23, in 16 States, a very low percentage had chosen Hindi as a second or third choice.

All southern States, most north-eastern States, Gujarat and West Bengal have the least proportion of people who speak in Hindi in India. Only 0.6% of the people in Kerala are native speakers of Hindi, the least in India, and Tamil Nadu has the smallest percentage of general speakers of the language. Maharashtra, Punjab, and Sikkim have higher than average general Hindi speakers while also having a substantially lower proportion of native Hindi speakers.


An alternative means of communication

States which have lesser proportion of Hindi speakers have a higher proportion of English speakers compared to States which have higher share of Hindi speakers.

While Goa has the highest proportion of English speakers in India, Bihar and Chhattisgarh have the least share of English speakers. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu 20.15% and 18.49% of the people speak English respectively.


On May 31, the Centre had released a draft of the National Education Policy, which had a clause that mandated teaching of Hindi in schools in non-Hindi speaking States. The draft drew sharp criticisms from different political circles in various non-Hindi speaking States, especially Tamil Nadu.

The government went into damage control mode and newly appointed Cabinet ministers S. Jaishankar and Nirmala Sitharaman said that the draft would be approved only after public hearings. On Monday, the government issued a modified draft which left out the controversial clause.

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Printable version | Oct 13, 2021 10:21:50 AM |

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