The Language Division of the Office of the Registrar General, India was established in August, 1961 to assist the Registrar General, India for the systematic presentation of Language Tables through the process of rationalisation and classification of the mother tongue returns derived during Census enumeration. The scrutiny and organizational findings of these returns by this Division was the basis of the rationalisation and classification. The scheme of classification established by Grierson for Indian languages and dialects in Linguistic Survey of India was accepted as the basis of the scrutiny allowing the modification in the line of relevant reclassification of the mother tongues based on the continuous researches have been carried out on Indian languages by this Division as well as by other Organisations.

The conformation of the vast majority of mother tongues of 1961 Census to the pattern of classified languages dialects led the path to subsequent researches to Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India and a series of grammatical descriptions were published by this Division under monograph series. Thus, in addition to the scrutiny and classification of mother tongues in Census, this task of research also became the principal activity.

Simultaneously a fresh need was felt to supplement Grierson’s Linguistic Survey of India by conducting new survey in the post-independence India to assess and trace the changes in the linguistic scenario of the country. To fulfil this need, this Division was approved with the Project Linguistic Survey of India where the state-specific languages of the Indian States and Union Territories are under survey since 1984. The Census inventory of the identified and classified languages mother tongues is the basis of this survey operation discontinuing the earlier researches on individual languages in the form of monograph series publication. Under this post Griersonian Linguistic Survey of India Project the grammatical sketch of the state-specific languages along with their demographic, bilingual-trilingual, sociolinguistic information including the information of the previous studies are presented in the form of state by state Volumes.

The survey had been carried out state by state under this Project using one uniform devised questionnaire and survey results are being published following one common survey template. So far, the published results under the Project LSI-Orissa, LSI-Dadra & Nagar Haveli, LSI-Sikkim (Part I & II), LSI-Rajasthan (Part-I). The LSI-West Bengal and LSI-Bihar & Jharkhand are in the pipeline.

In course of survey operations under the post-Griersonian Linguistic Survey of India Project the need of identification of a good number of unclassified mother tongue returns recorded in the Censuses subsequent to 1961 Census has been emerged. Accordingly, one Project entitled Mother Tongue Survey of India has been approved and assigned to Language Division since 2007 where along with identified classified mother tongues the unclassified mother tongues are also surveyed for establishing their linguistic identity through a full-fledged grammatical sketch of the mother tongues using sex-age-rural urban wise collected synchronic documented data with all its possible varieties.

The result of the survey conducted variable wise for identified mother tongues under the Mother Tongue Survey of India Project is the basis of the publication of state specific Volumes under ongoing Linguistic Survey of India Project. In this process the languages mother tongues distributed significantly in contiguous states are studied and the results are brought under special Volumes to present the linguistic changes that have taken place in a single language mother tongue by its dispersed concentration to establish ‘India as a linguistic area’.

The country wide linguistic experts and stalwarts of Indian Universities and Institutions (where linguistics and language oriented studies are conducted) are continuously a source of inspiration to the Linguistic Survey of India and Mother Tongue Survey of India Project of the Language Division of the Office of the Registrar General, India by way of extending guidance for better mannered survey as well as presentation of survey result and editing of the State Volumes.

This Division of Office of the Registrar General, India (ORGI) is accredited with the pioneering sociolinguistic survey of the classified languages of India, based on 1971 Census inventory, under the title The Written Languages Of The World – A Survey Of The Degree And Modes Of Use, Book 1 & 2 following the sociolinguistic model of Heinz Kloss produced in collaboration with Laval University, Canada in 1989.

The Language Atlas of India, based on the classified language inventory of 1991 Census, showing the geographical distribution of the languages of India along with one introductory note for all languages there, is also another remarkable achievement of the Language Division of ORGI produced in coordination with Map Division of ORGI.

The Registrar General, India through his Language Division is taking the steps for the development, preservation and documentation of Indian languages and mother tongues through the presentation of decennial language profile of the country as well as bringing out the publications of separate grammatical structures of Indian languages mother tongues based on the studies conducted through several projects undertaken time to time especially Linguistic Survey of India and Mother Tongue Survey of India Projects along with providing all information against questions raised by Parliamentarians and queries raised under RTI Act, 2005.