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Hindi Belt

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Hindi Belt
Area (red) where various languages considered by the census as Hindi are spoken natively
Area (red) where various languages considered by the census as Hindi are spoken natively
Country India
Major urban agglomerations (2011 census)
States and Union Territories
 • Total1,355,456 km2 (523,344 sq mi)
 • Total563,766,118
 • Density420/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
DemonymHindi Bhashi
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Scheduled Languages
States and union territories of India by the most spoken language[3][a]

The Hindi Belt, also known as the Hindi Heartland, is a linguistic region encompassing parts of northern, central, eastern, and western India where various Northern, Central, Eastern and Western Indo-Aryan languages are spoken, which in a broader sense is termed as Hindi languages, with Standard Hindi (based on Dehlavi) serving as the lingua franca of the region.[4][5][6][7][8]

The term "Hindi belt" is sometimes also used to refer to the nine Indian states whose official language is Modern Standard Hindi, namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as well as to the union territory of Chandigarh and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.[9][10][11][12]

It is also sometimes broadly referred to as the "Hindi–Urdu Belt" or "Hindustani Belt".[13]

Hindi as a dialect continuum[edit]

Hindi is part of the Indo-Aryan dialect continuum that lies within the cultural Hindi Belt in the northern plains of India. Hindi in this broad sense is a sociolinguistic rather than an ethnic concept.[citation needed]

This definition of Hindi is one of the ones used in the Indian census, and results in more than forty per cent of Indians being reported to be speakers of Hindi, though Hindi-area respondents vary as to whether they call their language Hindi or the actual name of their language. As defined in the 1991 census, Hindi has a broad and a narrow sense. The term "Hindi" is thus ambiguous. Before being identified as a separate language, Maithili was identified by the census as a Hindi dialect. Many such languages still struggle for recognition.

The broad sense covers a number of Central, East-Central, Eastern, and Northern Indo-Aryan languages, including the Bihari languages except Maithili, all the Rajasthani languages, and the Central Pahari languages.[8] This is an area bounded on the west by Punjabi and Sindhi; on the south by Gujarati, Marathi, and Odia; on the east by Maithili and Bengali; and on the north by Nepali, Dogri, Kashmiri, Western Pahari and Tibetic languages. The varieties of this belt are usually considered separate languages, as opposed to dialects of a single language as considered by the Indian census.

In a middle sense, Hindi is equated with the Central Indo-Aryan languages. Based on their linguistic features, these are divided into Western and Eastern Hindi languages. The narrowest definition of Hindi is that of the official language, Modern Standard Hindi, a standardised register a Western Hindi language spoken around Delhi and Western UP. Standardised Hindustani—including both Standard Hindi and Urdu—is historically based on the Khariboli of 17th-century Delhi.

In many states like Himachal Pradesh, Hindi is the official language despite large resistance due to the region being part of the Western Pahari linguistic belt which also includes Jammu areas of the Jammu and Kashmir (princely state) further extending to Pakistan's Pothohar Plateau.[14][15]

Number of speakers[edit]

Population data from 2011 Indian Census is as follows:

According to the 2001 Indian census,[16] 258 million people in India (25% of the population) regarded their native language to be "Hindi", however, including other languages considered by the census as Hindi, this figure becomes 422 million Hindi speakers (41% of the population). These figures do not count 52 million Indians who considered their mother tongue to be "Urdu", which is mutually intelligible with Hindi. The numbers are also not directly comparable to the table above; for example, while independent estimates in 2001 counted 37 million speakers of Awadhi,[17] in the 2001 census only 2½ million of these identified their language as "Awadhi" rather than as "Hindi".

There have been demands to include Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Kumaoni, Bundeli, Chhattisgarhi, Garhwali, Kudmali/Kurmali, Magahi, Nagpuri, and Rajasthani in the Eighth Schedule; these are otherwise regarded as dialects of Hindi by the government, although they have varying levels of mutual intelligibility with standard Hindi.[18] Some academics oppose inclusion of Hindi dialects in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution as full-fledged Indian languages. According to them recognition of Hindi dialects as separate languages would deprive Hindi of millions of its speakers and eventually no Hindi will be left.[19][20]

Outside the Indian subcontinent[edit]

Much of the Hindi spoken outside of the subcontinent is distinct from the Indian standard language. Fiji Hindi is a derived form of Awadhi, Bhojpuri, and including some English and very few native Fijian words. It is spoken by majority of Indo-Fijians. In Mauritius, Bhojpuri is the most commonly spoken Hindi dialect. Once widely spoken as a mother tongue at 31.7% in 1972,[21] it has become less commonly spoken over the years. According to the 2022 census,[22] Bhojpuri was the most commonly spoken language at home for only 5.1% of the population, though the per cent of the population fluent in the language is likely still around 36.7%, according to Anjani Murdan of the Mauritius Times.[23]

Geography and demography[edit]

The Indo-Gangetic Plain

The highly fertile, flat, alluvial Gangetic plain occupies the northern portion of the Hindi Heartland, the Vindhyas in Madhya Pradesh demarcate the southern boundary and the hills and dense forests of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh lie in the east. The region has a predominantly subtropical climate, with cool winters, hot summers and moderate monsoons. The climate does vary with latitude somewhat, with winters getting cooler and rainfall decreasing. It can vary significantly with altitude, especially in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

The Hindi Heartland supports about a third of India's population and occupies about a quarter of its geographical area. The population is concentrated along the fertile Ganges plain in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Although the vast majority of the population is rural, significant urban cities include Chandigarh, Panchkula, Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Raipur, Allahabad, Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Indore, Bhopal, Patna, Jamshedpur and Ranchi. The region hosts a diverse population, with various dialects of Hindi being spoken along with other Indian languages, and multi-religious population including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs along with people from various castes and a significant tribal population.

Political sphere[edit]

Over the years political development in some of these states has been dominated by caste-based politics, but this has changed somewhat in recent years with the BJP national victory in 2014 and state victory in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.[24] In 2019 election, 226 members from the Hindi belt states had been elected to the Lok Sabha.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  • Grierson, G. A. Linguistic Survey of India Vol I-XI, Calcutta, 1928, ISBN 81-85395-27-6
  • Masica, Colin (1991), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2.
  • Shapiro, Michael C. (2003), "Hindi", in Cardona, George; Jain, Dhanesh (eds.), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Routledge, pp. 250–285, ISBN 978-0-415-77294-5.


  1. ^ Some languages may be over- or underrepresented as the census data used is at the state-level. For example, while Urdu has 52 million speakers (2001), in no state is it a majority as the language itself is primarily limited to Indian Muslims.


  1. ^ "Largest State in India 2022: Check the list of all states by area and population". 16 February 2022.
  2. ^ "A-1 No of Villages, Towns, Households, Population and Area". Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  3. ^ "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  4. ^ B.L. Sukhwal (1985), Modern Political Geography of India, Stosius Inc/Advent Books Division, ISBN 9780865906082, ... In the Hindi heartland ...
  5. ^ Stuart Allan, Barbie Zelizer (2004), Reporting war: journalism in wartime, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-33998-7, ... located in what is called the "Hindi heartland" or the "Hindi belt" of north and central India ...
  6. ^ B.S. Kesavan (1997), Origins of printing and publishing in the Hindi heartland (Volume 3 of History of printing and publishing in India : a story of cultural re-awakening), National Book Trust, ISBN 81-237-2120-X
  7. ^ "Battle for the Hindi heartland: Will it favour the BJP again?". www.orfonline.org.
  8. ^ a b "Congress' revival in Hindi patti". www.nationalheraldindia.com. 8 February 2019.
  9. ^ "How languages intersect in India". Hindustan Times. 22 November 2018.
  10. ^ "How many Indians can you talk to?". www.hindustantimes.com. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  11. ^ "Hindi and the North-South divide". 9 October 2018.
  12. ^ Pillalamarri, Akhilesh. "India's Evolving Linguistic Landscape". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  13. ^ Khan, Abdul Jamil (2006). Urdu/Hindi: An Artificial Divide: African Heritage, Mesopotamian Roots, Indian Culture & Britiah Colonialism. Algora Publishing. p. 313. ISBN 9780875864389. In the 'Hindi-Urdu belt' also these variations are visible
  14. ^ Sharma, Vishal (14 September 2018). "Hindi Belt's Imposition Sparks Resistance in Himachal Pradesh". TheQuint. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  15. ^ Sharma, Vishal (7 June 2019). "Dreaming of Peace Dividends: Revival of Shimla-Murree Linkages". The Wire. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Census of India: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". censusindia.gov.in. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  17. ^ USCWM
  18. ^ "38 languages stake claim to be in Eighth schedule". www.dailyexcelsior.com. 15 August 2013.
  19. ^ Pathak, Vikas (20 January 2017). "Don't add Hindi dialects in Eighth Schedule, say academics". The Hindu.
  20. ^ "Linguists divided over inclusion of Bhojpuri in 8th Schedule". www.indiatoday.in.
  21. ^ "Housing and Population Census of Mauritius 1972" (PDF). Ministry of Economic Planning and Development. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  22. ^ "2022 Population Census - Main Results" (PDF). Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  23. ^ Murdan, Anjani (10 June 2022). "Is the Bhojpuri language spoken by only 5.3% of the Mauritian population, as stated by the 2011 Census report?". Mauritius Times. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  24. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (1 January 2000). "The Rise of the Other Backward Classes in the Hindi Belt". The Journal of Asian Studies. 59 (1): 86–108. doi:10.2307/2658585. JSTOR 2658585. S2CID 162845558.
  25. ^ "2019 elections may have no precedent in terms of past elections". @businessline. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  26. ^ "Why BJP is staring at a loss of nearly 100 seats from 2014 tally". 9 November 2018.

External links[edit]