Are regional languages dying in India?

Sonal Panchal Shah
4 min readAug 7, 2020


You come home one day to see your child almost in tears; the reason — she has Hindi exams the next day! No matter how much you console her and sit with her to coach her in the subject, she still lacks the confidence to do well in the exam. And this gradually becomes the norm in all the subsequent exams she has to appear in school, till the day when Hindi is no longer a compulsory subject in her curriculum. Oh, there is so much of rejoicing among her friends!

This takes you back to your own school years. You remember you were quite good in Hindi and had absolutely no qualms when it came to studying the subject or giving exams. In fact, it had been a natural progression for you to learn Hindi. You had interacted with your friends and neighbours in Hindi as you had grown up. The language was an integral part of you; studying the subject and giving exams was just an extension. You wonder what had gone wrong with your child.

It must have started gradually when she was in kindergarten and maybe your intention to improve her English speaking skills was the reason behind it. The initiative had certainly proved to be fruitful as your child can now converse and debate over any topic like a professional. But in the process, she had completely lost touch with Hindi. The language seemed totally alien to her and she could not read, write or speak in it.

In fact, Hindi is not the only language which is dying; the same is the case with most regional languages. This can largely be attributed to the change in the definition of ‘mother tongue’. Since mother was the primary caregiver of the child during the formative years, the child was introduced to the native language of her mother early in life. The language became core to her being. But with mothers now having a career of their own that keeps them away from the child for almost throughout the day, the child is left primarily in the care of maids, at home or in a crèche. Thus, she learns the language that the maid speaks or the teachers at the crèche or school do.

So, what’s wrong if children do not learn regional languages?

When children are born in nuclear families staying in the buzzing metros of India, they hardly get to interact with any other member in the extended family. Their daily routine reads something like this: get up in the morning and rush to an English-medium school, interact with teachers and friends in English, rush to a hobby class after school which also involves interacting in English, come back home and complete the homework, play with friends and converse also in English, watch some English content on TV and then go to sleep reading an English storybook. They don’t find the need to learn any other language other than English. So what are they missing out by not learning Hindi or the regional languages of our country?

Hindi and all the regional languages have their root in Sanskrit which has been described as ‘more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin and more exquisitely refined than either’. When someone speaks in Sanskrit, it is said that all the neurons of his body get stimulated. It has a regular structure and is governed by a set of rules that are technically sound; good enough for NASA to declare that Sanskrit is the best programing language to develop programs based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). This goes to show the importance of Sanskrit and all the Indian languages that have developed from it.

Let’s also discuss the literature. There were such renowned poets and writers in every part of India who have left behind a treasure trove of stories and poems. Every line that they wrote gives us a deep insight into the rich culture and traditions of our country that used to exist in that area. It gives us knowledge about every aspect of our country — geography, history, economics, politics, science, food, travel, lifestyle — everything. Not reading this literature certainly disrobes every child’s spirit from its ‘Indianness’, and leaves her without any distinct cultural identity, grappling with a confused ‘Englishness’; a detrimental cascading effect.

Is there any way to deal with it?

Not having your own cultural identity can impact the present and upcoming generation in more ways than anyone can imagine. Hence, dealing with the problem is extremely necessary and it has to begin at home. Parents can consciously try to converse with their children in Hindi or their own mother tongue. They can ensure that the child’s TV time involves more Hindi content; there are many interesting short movies and serials in Hindi on YouTube today that the child can watch. At the same time, parents have to be careful that the child does not pick up the locally tweaked Hindi, which is very different from the original one and very catchy as well.

It must be kept in mind that promoting regional languages does not necessarily mean that we have to downplay English. We have to think of achieving the right balance so that our children can enjoy the richness of English, Hindi and their own native languages. After all, India has always been a country that takes pride in its ‘unity in diversity’. We only need to consciously take it forward.



Sonal Panchal Shah

An adventurous professional, an imperfectly perfect mom or a WooMAN with special interests! I live life at the mercy of words-it pays my bills after all:)