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According to the 1991 census, 22 languages had more than a million native speakers, 50 had more than 100,000 and 114 had more than 10,000 native speakers.
The remaining accounted for a total of 566,000 native speakers (out of a total of 838 million Indians in 1991).
The 447 living languages are further subclassified in Ethnologue as follows:- The People’s Linguistic Survey of India, a privately owned research institution in India, has recorded over 66 different scripts and more than 780 languages in India during its nationwide survey, which the organisation claims to be the biggest linguistic survey in India.
The Census of India records and publishes data with respect to the number of speakers for languages and dialects, but uses its own unique terminology, distinguishing between language and mother tongue.
Classical language status is given to languages which have a rich heritage and independent nature.
According to the Census of India of 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages.
Hindi, the most commonly spoken language in India today, serves as the lingua franca across much of North and Central India.
The northern Indian languages from the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family evolved from Old Indic by way of the Middle Indic Prakrit languages and Apabhraṃśa of the Middle Ages.
Many of the mother tongues so defined could be considered a language rather than a dialect by linguistic standards.
English continues to be an important language in India.
It is used in higher education and in some areas of the Indian government.
This is especially so for many mother tongues with tens of millions of speakers that are officially grouped under the language Hindi.
Separate figures for Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi were not issued, due to the fact the returns were intentionally recorded incorrectly in states such as East Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, PEPSU, and Bilaspur.
Later, a constitutional amendment, The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English in the Indian government indefinitely until legislation decides to change it..