Personal Experiences and Views on Surnames


Many individuals feel proud to tell their name if it has Surname. This is mainly because Surname talks of their caste. However, this holds good if the person belongs to the so-called higher caste. On the other hand if the person belongs to the lower caste, the inferiority complex engulfs him as he feels embarrassed due to the reason that it gives room for discrimination and ill treatment.

We were named as Harijan but not treated as God’s children. We used Harijan as our surname. In fact, even my father had same Surname. Educated class in my village enlightened my father about the adverse effect on children’s life due to the disclosure of caste through surname. Hence, my father changed his surname to Lingayat Surname and my uncle changed to Brahmin surname. This is my personal experience with surname. Surname is not only being carried to child’s name but also to the girl who marries. This has made me think why should we use surname? Is Surname so necessary? Can’t we not stop using surname atleast from next generation?

Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar worked on the feminist ideology. But, how far have we done justice to his thoughts. Are we not forcing the girls to accept the Surname of the guy whom she marries? By doing so, we not only force a girl to compromise on her identity, but also snatching her liberty. Such an act is a symbol of patriarchal society.

Are men ready to accept women’s Surname/family name with pride? I feel there is less men who accept this. Recently, a case has been filed in court and the issue pertains to   the use of last name/Surname. While the girl is not willing to give up her family name after marriage, husband is forcing her to use his last name/Surname along with her First name.

A way forward:

We are the people oppressed and depressed by Higher Caste. People talk about Dalits rights and women’s rights, but continue to deny rights and privileges. To build a socially egalitarian world there is a need for massive change in our thoughts.

The southern part of India experienced this surname issue and found solution for it. Both men and women should stop using their last name/Surname from next generation.  This will help us to be united. This will also save us from clutches of manu’sthoughts.I would conclude my article by telling that Manu is still ruling even after his Smritis were burnt  by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The onus now lies on us to carry forward the thoughts of Baba Saheb.

Author – Manjunath Hosamani

Read also – What Is In The Name? Everything Is In Surname

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