Indian-American Vivek Murthy was on Wednesday administered the oath for the top post of US Surgeon General by Vice President Joe Biden at a ceremonial ceremony here, becoming the youngest-ever in charge of the country’s public health.
37-year-old Vivek Hallegere Murthy 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,” Murthy said in his address on the occasion.
Attended by eminent Indian-Americans, who flew in the military bastion from across the country to attend the Commissioning and Change of Command Ceremony, Murthy took the oath on the holy Gita.
As the US Surgeon General, Murthy carries the rank of Vice Admiral.
Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell also participated in the event.
“He is eminently qualified for the job,” Biden said on the occasion and described his family as an “incredible” family in particular his grandmother who was present on the occasion.
“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 fiance’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, with his parents and family members seated in the audience.
“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,” Murthy said.
In his first major policy speech, Murthy vowed to improve the public health of the country. “Here’s the thing: even as millions of Americans get covered through the Affordable Care Act, we still have much more to do,” he said.
“Public health does not exist in a vacuum. It is intrinsically linked to education, employment, the environment and our economy. There is a whole world beyond hospital corridors and clinic waiting rooms where people are struggling with issues of transportation, housing and development,” he said.
“The point is, we cannot effectively address the challenges before us until we treat health as a shared responsibility. That is why we have to build the great American community,” Murthy said.
Murthy was officially sworn in at a closed ceremony on December 18, 2014. He is the country’s 19th Surgeon General.