To which language should you translate to localize in India?
What we know from our community
There is an old Hindi saying about India and the languages spoken here, “Kos-Kos Par Paani Badle, Char Kos Par Vaani”, which means “After every 18 miles, water changes its characteristics, and Language is different at every 72 miles”. This stands very true for India, here the demography of languages is not linear, but dynamic. Due to the diversity here, the multi-lingual population is vast.
Hindi is one of the official languages (often dubbed as national, but it is not). According to 2011 Census (the latest one), the native Hindi speakers are 528 million, which was 43.63% of the population in 2011. 139 million people in the survey confirmed Hindi as their second language, and 24 million said Hindi is their third language. This essentially means 691 million people (57%) confirmed Hindi as their first, second, or third language. Considering the consistent rise of Hindi as a language — thanks to Bollywood movies — this percentage must have increased since 2011. In the Census 1971, there were 36.99% native Hindi speakers, which rose to 43.63% in 2011.
Different Variants of Tamil Language
It is fairly normal among languages spoken across the world to have multiple variants; however, in this connotation Tamil is noteworthy. Tamil, the native language of Tamil Nadu, India has widened its reach to various states within India and world countries including Northeast region of Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Indonesia, China, Australia, Canada, UK, South Africa, South Pacific, Caribbean, and more to list out.
The variants of Tamil is distinguished majorly by factors like community divisions, and regional dialects (a cause of geographic conditions) such as Kanchipuram Tamil, Chennai Tamil, Tiruvannamalai Tamil, Madurai Tamil, Thirunelveli Tamil, Coimbatore Tamil, Kanyakumari Tamil, Ramanathapuram Tamil, Pudhukottai Tamil, Chettinadu Tamil, and more. Tamil spoken at the borders of neighbouring states like Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has a different diglossia.
Similarly, Tamil used for writing, Television, Radio, and public speeches may vary from spoken Tamil. Tamil in literary works has a different style expressed. Perhaps, the face to face communication brings a different variant, which is quite interesting to listen to.
As per the Census 2011, Hindi has now 57 officially recognised dialects, and several unrecognised dialects. Out of 528 million native Hindi speakers, 16.7 million belong to these unrecognised dialects.
Most of the Hindi native speakers are found in the northern part of India, often called as Hindi belt.
Then, first of all, take a look at what the 100 top websites do
Of the 100 top website (Global by design ranking):
- 63/100 translate into English
- 8/100 translate into Hindi
- 7/100 translate into Tamil
- 6/100 translate into Bengali
- 6/100 translate into Kannada
- 6/100 translate into Telugu
- 6/100 translate into Malayalam
- 5/100 translate into Marathi
- 5/100 translate into Gujarati
- 5/100 translate into Punjabi
- 5/100 translate into Assamese
Of the 100 top website 8 do not localize in India; 1 translates just in English and Spanish; 1 translates just in English and German; in India Google, Microsoft, Wikipedia, Facebook, Amazon and BBC, are the ones which translate in more languages.
Now, if you need others information about that country to make your decision, below you can find a selection of economic/social/cultural data
Article 343(1) of the Indian constitution clearly mentions that “The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.” The business in Indian parliament or the offices of government can only be transacted in Hindi or in English. English is allowed to be used for official purposes throughout the country such as parliamentary proceedings, communications between the Central Government and a State Government and in judicial matters.
T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.
Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Assamese, Bengali, Marathi, Konkani, Kashmiri, Odia, Nepali, Khasi, Mizo, Manipuri, Ao, Nissi
Low proficiency (EF) – 50 of 100 countries/regions in the world- 8/24 position in Asia.
Capital: New Delhi
Currency: Indian rupees
Population density: 382/km2
GDP: 2 708.77 billion USD (2020)
GDP per capita: 2 099.60 USD (2019)
Exports: $330 billion (2019)
Internet users: 50% penetration, 687.6 million
Unemployment rate: 24% (May 2020)
Urbanisation: 34.03% (2020)
Literacy: 77.7% (2019)
Arabic numbering system and point as decimal separator.
Date format: yyyy-mm-dd / dd-mm-yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 009
Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal
Facts and data
$474 billion (2019). Crude Petroleum ($92.7B), Gold ($33.8B), Coal Briquettes ($24.9B), Diamonds ($21.4B), and Petroleum Gas ($16.4B). Partners: Brazil ($9.85B), China ($8.47B), United States ($6.82B), Germany ($2.73B), and Paraguay ($1.74B).
Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of age)
• 80% have an account with a financial institution
• 3% have a credit card
• 2% have a mobile money account
• 4.3% make online purchases
Ease of doing business
Easy to conduct business (71 out of 100) 1st out of 8 South Asian countries 77th worldwide out of 190 countries (2019, World Bank).
Global Innovation Index
Ranked 1st out of 10 Central and Southern
Asian countries, 46th out of 132 worldwide.
The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.
$330 billion (2019).Refined Petroleum ($39.2B), Diamonds ($22.5B), Packaged Medicaments ($15.8B), Jewellery ($14.1B), and Cars ($7.15B). Partners: United States ($55.3B), United Arab Emirates ($28.6B), China ($17.4B), Hong Kong ($11.5B), and Singapore ($9.53B).
Main local online stores
Amazon, Flipkart.com, Snapdeal.com, PaytmMall.com, ebay.in, jabong.com, myntra.com, shopclues.com, pepperfry.com, homeshop18.com
Mostly not free (55.2nd out of 100) 33rd out of 45 countries in Asia Pacific 129 worldwide out of 186 countries (2019, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal).
Service Imports (2018)
Service Exports (2018)
Most Complex Products by PCI
Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters
Most Specialised Products by RCA Index
Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between India observed and expected exports in each product
Export Opportunities by Relatedness
Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that India is not specialized in
Preferred digital payment methods in 2015 and 2020
Sources: A.T. Keamey; GfK; Google
Media main languages Hindi, English
36 newspaper in Punjabi
25 newspaper in Marathi
23 newspaper in Kannada
16 newspaper in Malayalam
18 newspaper in Tamil
India has a flourishing media scene, with thousands of outlets operating in multiple languages. There are around 197 million homes with TVs, many of them using direct-to-home satellite and cable services. Nearly 900 private satellite TV stations are on the air, around half of them devoted to news coverage. Doordarshan, the public TV, operates multiple services, including flagship DD1, which reaches hundreds of millions of viewers. Multichannel satellite TV is a huge success. Leading platforms have millions of subscribers. State-owned Doordarshan runs a free-to-air platform, DD Free Dish. Over The Top (OTT) streaming platforms have a large following. Music-based FM radio stations abound. But only public All India Radio can produce news programming. AIR stations reach more than 99% of the population. India’s press is lively and there are around 17,000 newspaper titles. Driven by a growing middle class, the cumulative newspaper circulation figure is more than 400 million. International organisations give a mixed assessment of media freedom. Privately-owned media are “vigorous and diverse” says US-based Freedom House. But it states that the authorities use security, defamation and hate speech legislation to curb critical voices. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) highlights the problem of violence against journalists, especially those working for non-English-language-media in rural areas emphasizing how reporting in regions that the authorities deem to be sensitive, such as Indian-administered Kashmir, is difficult.
There were 560 million internet users by March 2019 (InternetWorldStats.com, citing the Internet and Mobile Association of India, IAMAI), the second largest number of internet users in the world after China. Internet use has been slower to take hold in rural India. Facebook is the leading social network, with around 300 million users by 2019. Twitter is used by celebrities, journalists and politicians. Some of them have a mass following. There is no systematic filtering of the web. The authorities have clashed with leading social networks over censorship of content deemed to be offensive. Freedom House in its “Freedom of the Net 2018” report noted a large rise in “local internet shutdowns” and “the proliferation of misinformation and fake news across social media”. The authorities routinely suspend internet services in Indian-administered Kashmir at times of tension.
The Times of India – Mumbai-based daily
The Hindu – Chennai-based daily
The Hindustan Times – New Delhi-based daily
The Pioneer – New Delhi-based daily
The Indian Express – New Delhi-based daily
The Statesman – Kolkata-based daily
Deccan Herald – Bangalore-based daily
The Asian Age – New Delhi-based daily
India Today – New Delhi-based news magazine
Outlook – New Delhi-based news magazine
Doordarshan – public; national, regional, local and satellite services
New Delhi TV (NDTV) – operates NDTV 24×7 and NDTV-India news channels in English and Hindi
Star TV – satellite, cable
Zee TV – satellite, cable
Aaj Tak – news channel in Hindi
Media data source: BBC
50% penetration, 687.6 million
Share of web traffic by device
74.3% mobile phones, 25.4% computers (laptops and desktops), 0.3% tablet devices
Average speed of mobile Internet connection
Average speed of fixed Internet connection
Mobile connection as a percentage of total population 78%
Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 67%
Most popular web search engines
Google (98.73%), Bing (0.74%),Yahoo (0.42%), Duckduckgo (0.08%), YandexRu (0.01%), Ecosia (0.01%)
Most used social media
Facebook (82.11%), Instagram (7.94%), Pinterest (4.59%), YouTube (2.64%), Twitter (2.43%), reddit (0.08%)
69.73 yrs (2020)
Average age of the population
28.4 yrs (2020)
1.28% of GDP (2018)
Graduates (tertiary education)
Despite the lower share of adults with tertiary education, India has a relatively balanced gender distribution across the various fields of tertiary education compared to other OECD and partner countries, especially in fields such as education, humanities and arts, and health and welfare.
Impact on unemployment rate due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in India from January to May 2020
Share of unemployment across India in 2019, by educational qualification
Level of education of the young male and female population (15-32 years)
|Level of education||Rural areas||Urban areas||Total||Rural areas||Urban areas||Total|
|Level of education||Rural areas||Urban areas||Total||Rural areas||Urban areas||Total|
|Primary education cycle||18.3%||13%||16.9%||16.6%||15.5%||16.4%|
|First cycle secondary school||13.5%||16.7%||14.3%||9.3%||13.9%||10.4%|
|Second cycle secondary school||7.6%||13.5%||9.1%||5.5%||12%||7%|
Student enrolment in India
Distribution of enrolment among various categories
Level- wise enrollment and its compund annual growth rate
Enrolment at all the levels has increased over the years. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is 1.8 during the last 5 years, but in case of integrated courses, the CAGR is 11.2.
|Year||Ph.D.||M.Phil||Post graduate||PG Diploma||Diploma||Certificate||Integrated||Grand Total|
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Languages spoken in India
The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to email@example.com
Photo credit: Abhay Singh, Unsplash