Names currently used in South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora follow dozens of complex rules and vary by community. As a general rule, it is a good idea to ask an interview subject which name is his or her the first name and which is the surname. One Hindu may follow old caste traditions and have what he considers a first name and a last name, but his biological son may have a different name. Similarly, Sikh and Muslim names can vary by generation. Also, names and orders of names that were used in South Asia often get confused when immigrants arrive in the United States, forcing them to adopt names and spellings more “convenient” for mainstream America. Be careful about generalizing about South Asian names, not all of which are Hindu or Muslim names. There are many South Asian Christians, as well as South Asian Jews, and it may not be obvious from their names that they are South Asian. Moreover, there are some South Asians who have a one-word name.
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REFERENCE: AAJA Handbook to Covering Asian America