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India’s population is remarkably diverse so it is not surprising that it is very multilingual. The Indian census counts 122 languages with over 10,000 speakers, and the Constitution of India recognizes 22 “scheduled” languages. One of these scheduled languages, Hindi, with around 422,000,000 speakers is designated as official for government business. The Constitutional also sanctions the continued use of English for official purposes. Even though it is not a scheduled language and has only about a quarter of a million native speakers, English is widely used as a second language. The 29 Indian states and seven Union Territories are defined in part on ethnolinguistic terms, and they correlate to some degree with the 22 scheduled languages. Given the regional importance of the major languages, the history of three colonial languages (English, Portuguese, and French), and the demographic and political rise of Hindi, language politics is a vital sociopolitical force.

A Door into Hindi
An interactive multimedia web site for learning elementary Hindi by NEH seminar presenters Afroz Taj and John Caldwell, both professors at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A Door into Urdu
An interactive multimedia web site for learning elementary Urdu by NEH seminar presenters Afroz Taj and John Caldwell, both professors at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Critical Language Scholarship
The CLS Program is an in-country language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. CLS is a US State Department program. It currently supports the following South Asian languages: Bangla (Bengali), Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu.

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Data on Language
Tables and other information from the Census of India.

Language and Politics, with Dr. Lisa Mitchell

Language ProgramsThe American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) has programs for study of Indian Languages. Note: information about costs and financial support is very hard to find on this site. Many of the programs are eligible for foreign language and area studies fellowships and critical language scholarships.

Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India the Making of a Mother Tongue
(Mitchell, Lisa, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009)A key work on language politics in India, with a focus on Telugu in southeast India.

South Asia Language Resource CenterThe SALRC at the University of Chicago does not currently hold Title VI LRC funding, but it still maintains its useful site.

South Asia Summer Language Institute
SASLI was formed by Title VI National Resource Centers for South Asia to provide instruction in South Asian languages. SASLI’s focuses are: (1) instruction in around a dozen South Asian language and (2) the professional training for instructors to teach languages of South Asia.

Technology Development for Indian Languages
This is a program of the Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India, with the objective to develop information processing tools to facilitate human machine interaction in Indian languages and to develop technologies to access multilingual knowledge resources. Though mostly for specialists, there are some useful items for the layperson, like fonts for Indian languages and a good English-Hindi translator. Expect new resources for learners to be added.