Though you might think that “Your Name” is your proprietary and you own the rights to it, but no more. The Goa government has decided to amend a law to make change surname without following proper legal procedures a punishable offence with up to three months’ imprisonment.

State law minister Nilesh Cabral introduced a bill in the state Assembly on Friday to amend the Goa Change of Name and Surname Act.

“As per the amendment, changing one’s surname without following proper procedures would be a punishable offence with imprisonment of up to three months,” he said in the House.

The government’s move to amend the law came in the wake of complaints by civil society groups that several non-Goans, specially from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), were changing their names to local ones and enjoying the reservation benefits.

Cabral said not all changes to surnames, as advertised in newspapers, were done according to legal procedures.

“Only persons born in Goa will be eligible to change surname under the amended Act,” he said, replying to a question raised by Congress member Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco in the House.

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Lourenco claimed a large number of migrants in Goa were illegally changing their names and surnames to local ones.

Since the Goa Assembly’s monsoon session concluded on Friday, the bill to amend the existing law could not be passed and it would now be taken up during the next session.

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To throw some light about surnames, Indians particularly follow it with religious fervor and stringency. A society originating from a practice of the Caste system, is well understood to be following it this way.

Though everyone in India practices it, it is commonly believed that South Indians do not follow it. However closer studies suggest that even South Indians with the exception of Tamilians, practice it the way the North Indians do it. The Telugu use their family names, the Kannadigas – their village names and the Malayalis their caste names. However Tamilians are the only ones’ in entire India who do not use surnames and rather have their father’s name as their last name.

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