The Correspondence 'Give south Indian authors their true names' (Nature 452, 530; 2008), incorrectly states that people from the south do not traditionally have surnames.

I am from southern India and have a proper surname — as do all the families in my region. Besides Patil, surnames such as Naidu, Reddy, Rao and Gouda are common in the different states of southern India. One of the authors of the Correspondence has the surname Kutty.

Surnames have widely fallen into disuse because our fathers and forefathers avoided using them to prevent discrimination on grounds of caste.

It doesn't make sense in this case to use only an author's first name in scientific publications and to devise a special system to accommodate a different naming format. Instead, editors should encourage these authors to revive the use of their surnames.

Readers are welcome to comment at the Nature India blog Indigenus,

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