How many people speak HO? Where do they live? Finally the Language report of the Census of India 2011 is out. Here we find the numbers of people who filled in the HO language as their mother tongue.
The jump is remarkable. The growth fluctuates strongly over the last decades. In 1981 the growth over the last ten years was still a meagre 4.25%; in 1991, it had climbed to 21.18%; in 2001 it went down to 9.85%. That puts the present growth of 36.32% in perspective. It is not, I suspect, only the natural increase. More people are now coming forward and state their language to be HO. The Census figures need to be taken as a phenomenal growth of HO self-awareness.
+ Most HO speakers live in Jharkhand: 994,302 or some 70%. A further 411,724 or 29% of the HO speakers live in neighbouring Odisha.
+ Under the HO speakers is a small number of Lohara: 10,422. It does not significantly change the overall picture.
+ A slight majority (50.5%) of HO speakers is female: 717,880 as against 703,538 males. This is a very healthy situation.
+ HO is now the fastest growing language of Jharkhand and northern Odisha.
Despite all its adverse circumstances, such as lack of vernacular press, school books, literature, the HO language is vibrant and fast growing.
This gives an excellent start position to further strengthen the HO language and extend its use into other spheres of life.
Here I give the figures as in the 2011 census. I have rearranged the states and Union Territories in a descending order of the number of Ho speakers. This is what people have told the Census. The figures seem to be small in a metropolis like Delhi. I have no doubt that the Census figures will give rise to some debate, especially on the figure of HO speakers in Odisha.
Andaman & Nicobar Island 3
Source: CENSUS OF INDIA 2011, PAPER 1 OF 2018, LANGUAGE