Language Atlas of India

Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), an autonomous body under the Union Culture Ministry, has proposed to conduct a linguistic survey across the country to create a ‘Language Atlas’ of India, a pan-India Language Mapping Project.

What is a Linguistic Survey?

A linguistic survey systematically documents and catalogs different languages spoken by people across regions and local dialects associated with them. It provides insights into language data.

Need for New Language Atlas of India

While Census provides high-level insights, India has not witnessed large scale dedicated survey mapping linguistic diversity at district level post the monumental Linguistic Survey of India undertaken before independence by British scholar George Grierson.

Nearly two decades since, the need for contemporary mapping to preserve and promote indigenous languages has arisen again considering the rich linguistic pluralism spanning 22 scheduled languages written in 13 different scripts plus hundreds of unlisted dialects at extinction risk.

Key Objectives

The proposed survey by IGNCA aims to enumerate how many languages are spoken and in which States and regions. It strives to create detailed linguistic maps across India highlighting language overlaps, usage dominated areas, dialect continuums and discontinuities through field studies in over 780 districts to evolve policy perspectives.

Importance of Documenting Linguistic Diversity

Language mapping would help better streamline governance-to-citizen communication, enrich cultural capital through appropriate policy interventions prioritizing vulnerable indigenous tongues and formally acknowledge micro language communities.

Proposed Modalities

IGNCA plans roping specialized linguistics institutions like Deccan College and utilizing latest technologies including AI alongside ground surveys for collating and analysing complex language data ultimately culminating in a multi layered national language atlas with search functionalities.
Systematically documenting fragile linguistic assets through district-level mapping would linguistically bind India’s extraordinary diversity more cohesively while adding hugely to scientific heritage.


The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) is an autonomous institution under the Indian Ministry of Culture established in 1987 in memory of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Headquartered in New Delhi, IGNCA’s vision focuses on nurturing, preserving and promoting India’s cultural resources including heritage across arts, humanities, and science disciplines.
Key activities include academic research, exhibitions, training programs and grants supporting cultural endeavors. With centers across India, IGNCA undertakes projects like cataloging cultural assets through digital repositories and geospatial mapping thereby amplifying awareness regarding rich indigenous knowledge systems.


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