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Get rid of Caste Names

September 23, 2009

As a small but significant step towards casteless society, why not get rid off caste names, mostly the last names? Name is an important identification tool for a person and why should that be used to identify the caste one belongs to? Long back I asked some self proclaimed people I met online (of course they were strangers to me and expected the kind of reaction I could get), why the last name is important for you that identify you with your caste? Following were some of the interesting answers I got back,

  • My last name rings bell?
  • It is none of your business and mind your own.
  • Hell, No. I don’t give a damn to caste and religion.
  • This website doesn’t allow me to register without my last name.

In Tamil Nadu, it is very rare to see people identify themselves with caste names. It may be due to fear of being ridiculed by others or of self – embarrassment. Thanks to the great social reformer ‘Periyar’ and his ‘Self Respect’ movement. Still the caste and social prejudice is very much prevalent across Tamil Nadu. Blame it on politicians and self proclaimed Periyar followers for not doing enough to take his crusade forward but pocketing their own wealth by using his name.

So how the buzz about last name got settled?

Many people started using initials instead of last name. Initial is something that you put before your first name and it is usually a first letter of father’s first name.

For Example,

P.Chidambaram which expands as Palaniappan Chidambaram

M. Karunanidhi which expands as Muthuvel Karunanidhi.

Many others used father’s / husband’s first name as their last name mostly for passport and similar official documents.

For Example,

Karti Chidambaram

Sudha Ramalingam.

So what are your thoughts about it?


21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2009 10:32 PM

    I can imagine this being an issue there. I hope you guys are able to get out of that mind set soon 🙂
    Good effort 🙂

  2. September 25, 2009 9:05 AM

    I am of the opinion that India really needs to get rid of the caste system all together ! This is because the meaning of caste system has changes for the bad in what we call modern times !! Of course originally it had a lot of goodness for the society !

    I think that all citizens of India should be identified by only one parameter – "Indians" !! That way we will be able to solve many problems instantly … but politicians wont let this happen ! its their loss 🙂

    BTW, I have not been able to email you in the two trails I made. Thanks for your visits and comments 🙂

  3. October 8, 2009 3:34 PM

    yeah you are right in this case…
    can that be possible??

    You got a nice blog…see you around 🙂

  4. October 17, 2009 7:42 AM

    this caste thing is too deep rooted a thing in our India, it cnt abolished easily. For some ,I know, Their surname is their identity(Pitri parichay), class, strata in the society.
    We todays' generation may think it otherwise…. but from our early childhood we r used tio using it and used to thinbk ourselves along wid it…

    Even at times its seen , people not using their surnames are looked down upon by the so-called-conservatives of the society….!!!!

    kip writing..
    tk cre…:)

  5. October 19, 2009 1:16 AM

    I feel caste names are best avoided. But I also feel husband's or wife's names are inconvenient – because that requires changing once one is married. If at all one could have both the parents names (unchangeable) after one's names.

    Interesting post!

  6. October 20, 2009 11:30 AM

    While I agree with your idea of abolishing surnames, I also agree with indianhomemaker above: using only a male relative’s name (father/husband) perpetuates sexism and misogyny, following the old idea that women are property.

    • October 20, 2009 5:26 PM

      I am only against using caste names as surnames and i strongly believe the rest should be left to one’s choice.

  7. October 22, 2009 10:01 PM

    I would support this if all our important forms stop asking us the same.

    It is still necessary to fill religion and caste in school/college and all others forms because that ensures reservation.

    Communist influence prompted our parents’ generation ( in Kerala) to do away with caste names and add their first name as a child’s last name. Still the forms continues to ask all the details from Caste to subcaste.

    • October 22, 2009 10:57 PM

      Indian politics ruins everything 🙂

    • October 23, 2009 11:00 AM

      On a serious note, life in India is always a challenge. If you wanna rebel you should be prepared to confront. Many given up. Thats why we see them abroad and our political space full of goons.
      Even though i am fully in agreement with communists, it is commendable that they confront the system.

  8. October 22, 2009 11:16 PM

    Shared this post on twitter by using Addtoany!! ….let me see if I can get this on my blog now 🙂

    • October 23, 2009 11:04 AM

      Ah.. now i see where from i got the below audience 🙂 Thanx IHM

  9. October 22, 2009 11:20 PM

    I wondered about this long back. But we need a huge movement to get rid of it. The first step should also be to get rid of caste-based reservations, after all they make our castes our identity.

    Also, getting rid of surname would cause a practical problem: There will be let’s say too many Poonam’s, how to distinguish? Maybe then we all will adapt to a pseudonym or a new surname like ‘bachchan’! 🙂

    • October 23, 2009 11:16 AM

      Poonam: I think you didn’t get my points clear. Reservations are all together different matter. What i am talking about here is in our individual capacity what we can do as a first step to get rid of caste identities.
      You are talking about getting rid of surname, where did i ask for that? 🙄 i am only asking for abolishing caste names as surnames or any other names. Here i see the mindset of surname = caste name.
      Thanx for dropping by 🙂

  10. October 22, 2009 11:26 PM

    Lovely post !! I totally agree !! 🙂

  11. October 22, 2009 11:54 PM

    I totally agree! My grandparents – both maternal and paternal did this already – one on a Gandhian concept of equality and the other on Communist lines. We have our ancestral house names with our names, so our caste is not on show.

    How I wish caste and religion were not part of the mandatory columns in every govt form. Everything in India, revolves around caste doesn’t it? Right from education!

    • October 23, 2009 11:29 AM

      If your grandparents could do their bit long back i am sure we could do even better now, isn’t it? My greets to your GPs :-bd

  12. June 7, 2010 10:57 AM

    I never see your photo in any form in my ‘follower’s list’. So just wondered who you are.

    I like this post of yours. Tamilians have stopped long back, adding their caste names like Mudaliar, Pillai, Iyer etc. long back. Here it is only father’s or husband’s name as surname. Some girls don’t bother to do the change over from their father’s name to husband’s name after marriage. Nothing is lost!

    I like this post. Why are you not writing now?


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