Big deal? PM Modi lauded for saying women can retain their maiden names on their passport; but they could anyway!

Sriparna Ghosh
Indian passport

Women are now free to retain their maiden names on their passports after marriage or divorce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Thursday, April 13. He also added that women will also have the option to include their mothers' names on their passports instead of their father's name. Modi's comments, however, have left many confused, since women could retain their maiden name on their passports ever earlier. 

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The prime minister made the announcement while addressing a gathering of Indian Merchants Chambers' Ladies Wing in Mumbai through video-conferencing. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP's Lok Sabha MP Poonam Mahajan also attended the event. 

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Many people took to social media to question whether Modi was indeed talking about a new set of rules. According to the instructions booklet of the passport application form on the Passport Seva website, the requirement to change the surname is only applicable to "an applicant who has even marginally changed the name or a female who has changed her name or surname after marriage".

Therefore, a woman who has retained her maiden name doesn't need to apply for a change in the name on her passport. 

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