Washington, April 22
US surgeon general Vivek Murthy, who was dismissed on Friday by the Donald Trump administration as it transitions to a new leadership, has said being picked for the job was a “uniquely American story” for the “grandson of a poor farmer from India”.
Murthy was named America’s top doctor by President Barack Obama in 2014, making him the first Indian American ever named to the post, one among may growing achievement of a tiny but economically powerful ethnic community.
The US health and human services said in a statement on Friday he had been asked “to resign from his duties as surgeon general after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump Administration … (and stood) relieved of his duties”.
Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, a nurse by training and currently deputy surgeon general, was named to serve as the acting surgeon general and assume leadership of the US public health service commissioned corps.
In a post on Facebook, Murthy said. “For the grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story.”
“I will always be grateful to our country for welcoming my immigrant family nearly 40 years ago and giving me this opportunity to serve,” he added.
It wasn’t clear if the reference to his family arriving as immigrants was an indirect swipe at the Trump administration that has seemed to be both riding and stoking a wave of anti-immigrant feelings sweeping through the country. Murthy went on to recount his goals and achievements as surgeon general and said he “had hoped to do more to help our nation tackle its biggest health challenges, (but) I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have served”.
Murthy’s exit was the second of an Indian American in a high-profile position in the federal government following that of Preet Bharara, who was among several US attorneys asked to resign by Trump in March.
But Trump has named several Indian Americans to senior positions, including Nikki Haley as ambassador to the UN, a cabinet-level post that is a first for the community, Seema Verma at the human and health services and Ajit Pai as head of the Federal Communications Commission.
It wasn’t clear till hours after the announcement if there was more to the decision to remove Murthy, whose appointment was opposed aggressively by the gun lobby spearheaded by the powerful National Rifle Association for his anti-gun views.
Murthy’s parents are originally from Karnataka. Now 39, he came to the United States with his family at the age of three and grew up in Florida. He studied biomedical sciences at Harvard and medicine at Yale.
Murthy became an early supporter of Obama, starting a group of doctors supporting Obama in 2007-2008, which later became Doctors for America, a non-profit. His nomination as surgeon general was opposed by Republicans and took 10 months.
Washington, April 22