According to a recent analysis of the 2011 census, with over 107 languages spoken, Bengaluru is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in India.
The analysis, conducted by Shamika Ravi, a non-resident senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, and Mudit Kapoor, an associate professor of economics at the Indian Statistical Institute, pointed out that these 107 languages include 22 programmed languages and 84 non-programmed languages. .
The analysis also indicated that Kannada, which is the city’s official language, was listed as a mother tongue by 44.62% of the city’s population. The other main languages are Tamil (15%), Telugu (14%), Urdu (12%), Hindi (6%) and Malayalam (3%).
Apart from them, the townspeople also speak Maithili, Odia, Punjabi, Kashmir, Sindhi, Konkani, Santali, Marathi, Manipuri and Nepalese. Unscheduled languages include English, Kabul, Pashto, Tibetan, Arabic, Nishi, Mundari, Lushai, Nicobarais, Sherpa, Nagaland languages, among others.
Historians and experts attribute this linguistic diversity to the multiple waves of migration that the city has experienced over the centuries, in particular three particular incidents in history.
In the 2001 census, inter-district and inter-state migrants represented 30.27% of the city’s population. Over the next decade, the migrant population grew by more than 12%, making it the fastest growing community in the city.
Historian Suresh Moona said that shortly after Bengaluru was formed, there was a call for people to come to the city to trade. “When Kempegowda built its mud fort in 1537, there was a call for traders and other artisans to move to the new town. He knew that if there is no flourishing trade, a city cannot develop. Many areas of Bengaluru have been named after occupations such as Akkipet (rice), Ragipet (millet), among others.
He said the tradition continued with Tipu Sultan, who invited artisans from different parts of the country to live in Bengaluru. Most of these skilled workers migrated to Bengaluru to support Tipu’s military industry. The afterglow of the Tipu era migration remains in Bengaluru, the areas of Kalasipalaya in the heart of the city, was a settlement of Kalsi, expert tent planters and military camp organizers of the Tipu army.
But the first major migration that changed the linguistic character of the city occurred during the time of British India. After military engineers discovered that Bengaluru’s topography and its proximity to other towns were good for developing cantonment, manpower was needed.
“When the British started building the cantonment area since they had a base under the Madras presidency, they brought in skilled laborers and traders as part of the cantonment development. This is one of the reasons why the cantonment area of Bengaluru has a large Tamil-speaking population, ”Moona said.
“While pre-independence migration was largely confined to the Tamil-speaking region, after independence the emergence of industry and public sector enterprises changed migration patterns,” Janaki Nair said, professor of modern Indian history at the Center for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
After independence, Bangalore became the ideal location for strategic industries as it was far from international borders and its proximity to other major cities. The next big wave of migrants hit Bengaluru in the 1950s and 1960s, when large public sector companies – such as Bharat Electronics and Hindustan Aeronautics – made the city their home base.
Research by the Times Research Foundation in the 1980s shows that at the height of Bengaluru’s industrial age in the 1980s, 14% of the population was engaged in industrial work associated with the large-scale manufacturing economy. run by public sector companies.
Moona and Nair agreed that due to significant migration from Tamil-speaking areas, the emergence of industries has resulted in a larger pool of migrants, especially from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Linguistic influences in the city also changed during this period.
Decades later, open markets and globalization made Bengaluru the global back office. The city, which has an ecosystem developed by industries and institutes of science and technology, has quickly become the hub of information technology, being among the global cities known for their innovative technologies.
When Bengaluru became India’s Silicon Valley, the city’s migration patterns also changed. “Having a large Tamil population after independence, the service industry is now witnessing a significant migration of citizens from northeast India,” Nair added.
“Bengaluru is one of the few cities where you could survive without knowing the local language or with your native language. This is because migration has made the city a multilingual and multicultural city. These concepts are common in new globalized worlds, but Bengaluru had such a culture even before many other cities, ”Moona said.