A very interesting correspondence in Nature last week has stirred me into thinking hard about the naming conventions in South India. While north Indians generally follow the western naming patterns with the surname in the end preceded by the name of the person (Jagdish Yadav or Hari Prasad Singh), south Indians don’t follow this pattern. They generally have no family name. Instead they have a given name preceded by the name of the family’s ancestral village or town and father’s name. These are abbreviated into initials (J P Ramanathan, the last being the person’s actual name and the initials his father’s given name and ancestral village name).
To follow conventions, scientific publications have to pull out these initials from south Indian authors’ names and expand them to make up for the lack of a surname. As such, the merit of all their hard work is actually either credited to their father or ancestral village! I have been thinking what could be a reasonably good way to go around this problem. Any suggestions?
The Asian author name conundrum does seem a real concern and the sooner publications devise a way to address it, the better.