Every ten years the literate population of India goes up by about 10%. During its independence, there were only 12% literate Indians, according to the 1991 census there are 52% literate Indians, meaning that over half a billion people are literate. Education is monitored in India by state governments and this finds its expression in different figures for different states. Kerala in south India, with a population of 30 million, has the highest literacy rate in India of about 90%. Rajasthan in north India, with a population of 45 million, has the lowest literacy rate of about 40%.
The literacy rate among the urban population is higher than among the villagers. It is also higher among men than among women. In some states, the gap between literate men and literate women is very salient. For example, in Rajasthan and Bihar, the gap is about 30%, while in Kerala and Mizoram it is about 7%. The literacy rate among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (see Caste system in modern India) is lower than in the general population. Among the Scheduled Tribes it is the lowest because many tribes still prefer to stay away from the mainstream population. But since independence, the literacy rate among the women and the lower castes has grown up at a much higher rate than among the general population.
The state governments allow free education at the primary level. But, not all Indians get the opportunity to go to school. Schools are funded from different sources like government, local bodies, and private funds. The smaller the funds the less the students receive. School institutions range from schools without any building to schools with all the hi-tech facilities and even sites on the internet.
According to researches made in the 1980s about one-third of Indians study or studied in schools, which have English as medium of instruction. This number has gone up in the 1990s. For these people, English is in many senses their first language and it is easier for them to read, write and even communicate in English than in their own Indian languages. This makes India the second largest English speaking country in the world after the USA.
At the time of independence in 1947, there were 19 universities in India. In 1997 there were 219 universities or institutions at university levels. The larger universities have many colleges affiliated to them. The language of instruction at the better-rated colleges is English. Among the universities, some universities are considered as high standard good level universities. In 1995 there were over 5 million students in Indian universities. In general, less then 3% of India’s population has academic education, which is very low compared to world standard. But numerically India has almost 24 million university graduates. India is also among the few countries in the world to launch a satellite and has proven its nuclear capability. Because of this high number of academicians and their good knowledge of English, many technology companies (especially in the computer field) from around the world have arrived in India.