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S Asia Keeping Up With The Singhs! Third Most Common Surname In Victoria, Australia

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Jun 17, 2004
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Keeping up with the ... Singhs!

by MANPREET KAUR SINGH


The makers of the Bollywood flick Singh is Kinng may have known something about Australia when they chose to shoot the film here.

In a case of real life taking a direct cue from the reel, Singh is now one of most common surnames in Australia, and in some localities, it is the most prevalent surname, surpassing the traditionally common surnames like Smith, Jones, Williams and Brown.

According to the latest figures released by Sensis (which creates the White Pages telephone directories around Australia), Singh is now the third most common surname in the state of Victoria (of which Melbourne is the capital). There are more than 4,300 phone listings of "Singhs" across the state, with almost 4,000 in Melbourne and its suburbs alone.

What's more, there are over 9,300 Singhs listed in telephone directories around Australia; if we consider that each of these telephones belong to a household with an average of three - four people in the family, then we are talking about close to 40,000 people across Australia with the surname Singh.

And this doesn't even take into account an equal number of people (if not more) who write Singh as a middle name and are listed under a different surname!

Putting all of that together, as well as a considerable number of people who may not be listed in the White Pages at all, then there could be close to 125,000 people in Australia with "Singh" either as their middle name or surname! Surely that proves beyond doubt that Singh is truly becoming King in the land Downunder.

Even more telling are the statistics from the Darebin area, situated in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. There are over 320 Singhs listed in the suburbs of Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir, Bundoora, Alphington and Fairfield, making "Singh" the most common surname in this area - there are almost 50% more Singhs than Smiths living in this area, and twice as many Singhs as there are Joneses, Browns, Williams' and Wilsons.
Amazingly, even as recently as five years ago, Singh wasn't even among the top ten surnames of this area in 2004-05! Demonstrating a true multicultural demography in this area, the top ten surnames currently are -

Singh
Smith
Nguyen
Jones
Brown
Williams
Wilson
Zhang
Wang/Chen, and Li, respectively.

Statewide in Victoria, Smith is still the most common surname, followed by Nguyen (a common Vietnamese surname pronounced phonetically as Nu-wen), and at number three is Singh.

This is a clear reflection of the magnitude of migration of Sikhs into Australia, especially in Melbourne, and their predisposition to live close to each other in suburbia.

Going by the statistics alone, its not the Joneses that you need to keep up with in Australia today; it's the Singhs!

And more than anyone else, it's the Smiths who need to watch out most, since they may well be outnumbered in the land of Oz, too.

As for the Singhs themselves, so far they don't need to stand up to be counted; the numbers are speaking for themselves. Surely, the next step from having the most common surname in Australia would be to becoming the most recognizable surname in the country - by contributing actively to public life, sport, academia, business and other fields.

Through achievement alone can they give Australia a song to Singh about. And they do!
 
[This article first appeared, in its original form, in the Hindustan Times]
 

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