Indian-American Vivek Murthy takes over as U.S. Surgeon-General

Updated - April 24, 2015 08:05 am IST

Published - April 24, 2015 12:21 am IST - Fort Myer (Virginia):

Thirty-seven-year-old Indian-American Vivek Murthy was sworn-in as the U.S. Surgeon-General by Vice-President Joe Biden at a ceremony here on Thursday, becoming the youngest-ever in-charge of the country’s public health.

Dr. Murthy, who took the oath on the Gita, is now the highest ranking Indian-American in the Obama administration.

“To have the opportunity to serve as Surgeon-General is an extraordinary honour and a profound responsibility, and I want to thank President Obama for entrusting me with the stewardship of this office,” he said in his address on the occasion at Fort Myer military base.

Dr. Murthy is the country’s 19th Surgeon General.

According to the Surgeon- General’s website, Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard. From there, he earned his medical degree and master’s in business administration at Yale University. In addition to practising internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he in 2009 started a non-profit, Doctors for America, composed of thousands of doctors supporting President Barack Obama’s healthcare initiatives.

“He is eminently qualified for the job,” Mr. Biden said on the occasion and described his family as “incredible,” in particular, his grandmother, who was also present. “I am who I am because of my grandmother’s faith, my father’s strength, my mother’s love, my sister’s support and my fiancee's unyielding belief in me. I am blessed to have all of them here with me today. I will always be grateful to them for the sacrifices they have made,” he said.

“My family was never supposed to have left our ancestral village. My father is the son of a farmer in rural India. He was supposed to have been a farmer, as was I. But for my grandfather’s insistence that his son get an education — even if that meant going into debt — we might have never left that village to go out in the world and — as my grandfather also insisted — start fixing what needed fixing,” he said.

“We were not supposed to have become Americans. My parents stopped in three other countries — including a brutal dictatorship — on their journey to get here. They saved up money and scrounged for information about job opportunities, always knowing that America was the destination,” Dr. Murthy said.

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