A. Number of Speakers

The total number of English speakers in India according to 2001 census report is 226,449.

1. Main Habitat

The main inhabitat of English speakers are found in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh

a. Male/Female

The table shows the Male/Female distribution of English speakers in the states and union territories of India according to 2001 census.

India/State/Union Territory# Persons Male Female
India 226,449 112,604 113,845
Maharashtra 96,486 47,108 49,378
Tamil Nadu 25,151 12,892 12,259
Karnataka 17,773 8,724 9,049
West Bengal 15,681 7,827 7,854
Uttar Pradesh 11,163 5,830 5,333
Andhra Pradesh 10,281 5,150 5,131
Goa 8,190 3,844 4,346
Gujarat 5,878 2,996 2,882
Delhi# 5,111 2,586 2,525
Kerala 5,087 2,398 2,689
Bihar 4,534 2,367 2,167
Madhya Pradesh 2,714 1,344 1,370
Rajasthan 2,389 1,267 1,122
Jharkhand 2,370 1,166 1,204
Assam 1,736 938 798
Orissa 1,498 737 761
Chhattisgarh 1,450 747 703
Punjab 1,394 725 669
Haryana 1,290 697 593
Uttaranchal 1,107 558 549
Daman & Diu# 1,020 505 515
Jammu & Kashmir 999 575 424
Meghalaya 501 269 232
Pondicherry# 454 205 249
Himachal Pradesh 452 219 233
Nagaland 413 233 180
Manipur 359 174 185
Chandigarh# 356 177 179
Dadra & Nagar Haveli# 192 104 88
Tripura 183 92 91
Mizoram 106 78 28
Sikkim 61 35 26
Andaman & Nicobar Islands# 36 19 17
Arunachal Pradesh 33 17 16
Lakshadweep# 1 1 0

b. Rural/Urban

The following table shows the rural/urban distribution of English speakers in the states and union territories of India according to 2001 census.

India/State/Union Territory# Persons Rural Urban
India 226,449 28,880 197,569
Maharashtra 96,486 2,843 93643
Tamil Nadu 25,151 3,299 21852
Karnataka 17,773 1,061 16712
West Bengal 15,681 1,623 14058
Uttar Pradesh 11,163 3,749 7,414
Andhra Pradesh 10,281 899 9382
Goa 8,190 2,124 6066
Gujarat 5,878 940 4938
Delhi# 5,111 405 4,706
Kerala 5,087 1,777 3310
Bihar 4,534 2,923 1,611
Madhya Pradesh 2,714 259 2455
Rajasthan 2,389 622 1,767
Jharkhand 2,370 582 1788
Assam 1,736 1,127 609
Orissa 1,498 439 1059
Chhattisgarh 1,450 315 1135
Punjab 1,394 537 857
Haryana 1,290 774 516
Uttaranchal 1,107 414 693
Daman & Diu# 1,020 424 596
Jammu & Kashmir 999 569 430
Meghalaya 501 354 147
Pondicherry# 454 6 448
Himachal Pradesh 452 180 272
Nagaland 413 229 184
Manipur 359 128 231
Chandigarh# 356 9 347
Dadra & Nagar Haveli# 192 37 155
Tripura 183 157 26
Mizoram 106 17 89
Sikkim 61 33 28
Andaman & Nicobar Islands# 36 6 30
Arunachal Pradesh 33 19 14
Lakshadweep# 1 0 1

2. Decennial Growth

The following table shows the Decennial growth of English speakers in India in 4 consecutive census.

Year English Speakers Decadal Percentage Increase
1971 191,595 -
1981 202,440 5.66
1991 178,598 -11.78
2001 226,449 26.79

B. Settlement pattern

The following table shows the rural-urban and male-female distribution of English speakers in India in 2001 census.

Total Male Female
Total 226,449 112,604 113,845
Rural 28,880 15,343 13,537
Urban 197,569 97,261 100,308

C. Literacy and Education

1. Literacy

a. Rate

Many people identify language with literacy and hence will not describe themselves as knowing a language unless they can read it and, conversely may say they do not know a language if they can make out its alphabet. Thus people who speak English but are unable to read or write it may say they do not know the language. It is estimated that about 3 per cent (some 27 million people) of the Indians may be fully literate in English, but even if this percentage is valid, the number of people with a speaking knowledge is certainly higher than of those who read it, and the figure of 3 per cent for English literacy may be low.

(Source: Anthropological Survey of India, 1991)

b. Agencies Involved

The central government continues to play the lead role in the development and dissemination of English. In recent years of course, the State governments have also taken major initiatives by introducing English as a subject in the Primary school itself. The Central Institute of English and Foreign Language (CIEFL), Hyderabad, a fully funded autonomous organization is working for the development of English and foreign languages. CIEFL has several regional centers including those at Shillong and Lucknow. The main purpose of this institute is to bring about substantial improvement in the standards of teaching/learning of English. The recent NCERT National Focus Group on the Teaching of Indian Languages set up by the Government of India has treated English as an Indian language and has suggested that though the medium of instruction throughout school in all educational institutions should be the mother tongue, English may be introduced as a subject from Class 1 if adequate facilities are available.

c. Impact


In different regions of the country, English has had different kinds of impact. At the national level, it is the Associate Official language. In some states in the North East, it is in fact the only official language of the State. In the urban metropolitan cities, institutions of higher education, bureaucracy, higher judiciary and administration, prestigious public (i.e. private) schools of the country, it is major language of instruction. Most of the important national dailies and mass media use English. In South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, it has acquired great importance. Yet, in all the regions of the country and in all spheres of activity, English survives and thrives in the company of other Indian languages. There has on the one hand been phenomenal growth in the writing in English at different levels; on the other, there has been a comparable growth in such regional languages as Hindi, Panjabi or Tamil and Malayalam.


In the cultural domain, those who live in nuclear families in urban areas and go through an exclusive English-medium education often tend to lose contact with their cultural roots. Many of course return to them later in their middle or old age. Though classical western music has not found any significant space in India, popular English music has a large following. Similarly, there are several cinema halls in cities that show English films exclusively. One should remember that English is also one's only window to other non-Indian languages and cultures. Similarly, English theatre has a substantial presence in the life of the universities and culture of the metropolis. It is infact in the field of literary writing, prose, poetry and fiction, that Indians writing in English have indeed made a mark. The 8th chapter on literature will provide some of these details.

Fairs and Festivals:

Religious celebration and popular festivals are typically carried on in the regional language, which may be unintelligible to many attendees. Except in the case of Christians perhaps, English has no role to play in this domain. Most ceremonies associated with birth, death and marriage, and all local fairs and festivals will be conducted in either Sanskrit or the local languages of the region. In fact, it is this domain of activity that appears to keep the local languages and cultures alive and kicking in spite of serious pressures to the contrary from both English and globalization.


AIR/DD/Other TV Channels

The non-print media, particularly television, and radio have also been extending their reach considerably in the last two decades. An idea of the current trends in media reach can be sought from the following:

Mass Media Reach All India (urban +rural) in percentage

All house hold44.449.5

(Source: India Readership Survey1995)

Of all the mass media, Radio still has the widest reach geographically, and probably also socially even though in terms of listeners it may be losing ground to TV. Like other mass media, radio has dual role related both to culture and information. Today AIR has 114 regional and local (district) stations and it broadcasts news and other programmes in English and also in other regional and several Tribal languages.


The national channel Doodarshan transmitted from Delhi holds the prominent position among the Television viewers. With the advent of cable operators, many new channels are also trying to win over many viewers but these channels still find it difficult to reach the common people of India.

Doordarshan over the years 198219921999
Population covered (%)268187.6
Area covered (%)146172.9
Programme output (hours per week)1844781393
Home viewers (millions)17195362

(Source: Doordarshan 1999)

However, the situation is changing very fast. Channels such as BBC, Star, Discovery, HBO, ESPN etc. are beginning to have a large viewing public. It is also interesting to note that most of these channels have started producing their programmes not only in English but also in regional languages.


In general, English has had very little impact on the demographic structure of the Indian population as a whole. It has of course created a small class of elite that wields power in some of the most important sectors of the Indian society. It has also made important inroads into mass-media and literary writing.

2. Education

In formal education system, English is a prestige language and continuous to serve as the medium of instruction in elite school at every level without apology. All large cities and many smaller cities have private, English-language nursery, primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools. Even some of the prestigious government schools basically run for the benefit of senior civil and army officers use English as their medium of instruction. There is no doubt that English has become a symbol power and upward social mobility in society undermining the interests of most underprivileged children.

According to the 1992 Fifth All- India Education Survey, only 1.3 per cent of primary schools, 3.4 per cent of upper primary schools, 3.9 percent of middle schools and 13.2 percent of high school use English as a medium of instruction.

School treating English as the first language (requiring 10 years of study) are only 0.6 per cent of rural primary schools, 2.8 per cent of rural high schools, and 9.9 per cent urban high schools.

English in India is offered as a second language (six years of study) in 51 percent of rural primary schools, 57 percent of rural high schools, and 51 percent of urban high schools.

In higher education, English continues to be the premier prestige language. Total number of enrollment in higher education also increased considerably in the 1990s from 5.3 million in 1991-1992 to 7.7 million in 1999-2000,distributed over various field of study.

(Source: University Grants Commission (UGC) cited in research and development statistics)


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