MHA Mother Tongue Survey

The Indian Government recently completed the Mother Tongue Survey of India (MTSI) project.

What is the MTSI project?

The Mother Tongue Survey of India (MTSI) project is implemented by the Central Government to conduct surveys of mother tongues that are returned consistently across 2 or more Census decades. It also records the linguistic features of select languages.

According to the Home Ministry’s annual report for 2021-22, the MTSI project was successfully completed, with field videography of India’s 576 languages. The report also stated that, to preserve and analyse the original flavour of each indigenous mother tongue, The NIC and the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) is currently documenting and preserving the linguistic data of the surveyed mother tongues in video-audio files. The data will be stored in the web-archive that will be set up at the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

Mother tongues in India

According to the 2011 linguistic census data released in 2018, more than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken as mother tongues in India. These were grouped into 121 mother tongues after the census data underwent linguistic scrutiny, editing and rationalisation. “Mother tongue” is a designation provided by the survey’s respondent. It need not be identical to the actual linguistic medium.

43.6 per cent of the population (52.8 crore people) declared Hindi to be their mother tongue, making the most widely spoken mother tongue in India. The second highest spoken mother tongue is Bengali. 9.7 crore people or 8 per cent of the population speak the language.

Mother tongue in education

National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for the foundational stages of education recommended mother tongue as the primary medium of instruction in schools for children up to the age of 8. This recommendation seeks to ensure that children in primary school acquire significant skills in the “home language”. It will also help children to strengthen their basics in education.

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