Tanglin Actress Caitanya Tan Called Racist for Having Hated Indian Name as a Child

Credit: Screengrab of Millennials of Singapore's video

“Growing up, I really hated my name because it is an Indian name, but I’m 100% Chinese.”

This is what actress and singer Caitanya Tan said in a video released by Millennials of Singapore yesterday. The performer, who is perhaps most well known locally for her role as Cpt Goh on Channel 5’s Tanglin, was flamed for her comments, which many took to be “counter-racist.”

Caitanya was born to musician Kenny Tan who gave all three of his children Indian names: Caitanya, Krsna and Govin.

In an interview to Millennials, Caitanya (pronounced Chey-Tan-Ya) described how difficult it was for her to explain her name to her primary school peers and how she began to hate her name because her peers bullied her for her different name.

A Chinese Growing Up With An Indian Name

"Growing up, I really hated my name because it is an Indian name, but I’m 100% Chinese. My name is Caitanya, and Chinese kids won’t get it. I’ll tell them that my dad gave me an Indian name, and then all the questions would come.. “But you’re Chinese right?”, “You take Chinese class right?” or “You don’t look Indian, are you Chindian?”I never really know how to answer these questions because you’re seven, you’re in a new school, people are getting to know you, but you don’t even know so much about yourself yet. And you have a strange name that doesn’t match your face."https://millennialsofsg.com

Posted by Millennials of Singapore on Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sharing that she once had a friend who stopped being her friend because of her Indian name, Caitanya said:

“Growing up with a name like this has helped me understand a little bit better what it feels like to be a minority.”

After adding that that does not mean that she completely understands what racial minority groups face, Caitanya shared that years later, someone pronounced her name as Kate-Anya.

She decided to adopt that pronunciation of her name as it had a more international feel to it.

“Don’t fight the old, build the new,” she said.

Her comments have drawn intense flak from netizens:

One Facebook user’s comment attracted the attention of Caitanya’s brother Krsna who responded, telling the user to “check” herself:


  1. Oh god. It’s not racist to want to be connected to your own identity. The issue is that she was subjected to a small taste of life for minorities in Singapore getting their names mangled.

    • So much bs from the haters.. fuck em….. i only see pride in life and indeed pride in being singaporean and her journey is awesome… in a way truly singaporean. If anyone is against it then i would argue they are not truly Singaporean and deluded (remember the pledge)… one love… she has my support!

    • I din feel there was anything wrong with what she shared. Key word… “shared”. Who are we to judge her experience. She just said that ppl made fun of her name… it so happened to be an indian name…n she being chinese just made it super easy for many “normal” ppl to bully her. She never said she hates indians… she jist said that it made her experience a slight tinge of what minorities feel.

    • Yes ye andre… true what you say however no idea what relevance your comment is within ths thread… nomsensical in fact unkess i am missing what u mean?

    • Stu Frost. I am just trying to agree with randeep and add on. I am however not very clear on ur comment. Pls pardon my english and lack of comprehension.

  2. Who are the swines who think that they have the right to judge her. She is being candid. And if the swines do not like what she said they should shove their opinions up their piggy ….

  3. The first gift from our parent when we were born is a “name”, throughout our life people know us by the name, we go through hard times and good times with the name, when we leave this world the only thing we bring with us is our “name”. Be proud of our name.

  4. Disliking or liking one’s name is one’s own preference.
    If a Chinese don’t like his/her Chinese name and preferred an Indian name, it this also racist?

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