Vivek Murthy, Obama's Man With Roots in Karnataka, is Biden's Key Strategist in US Presidential Polls

D P Satish
·3-min read

If Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump and makes it to the US presidency, an Indian American of Karnataka origin is expected to occupy an important post in the new administration.

Dr Vivek H Murthy, who was President Barack Obama's youngest surgeon general in 2014, is one of the key strategists of Biden's election campaign.

The 43-year-old is originally from Hallegere village in Maddur Taluk of Mandya district in Karnataka. Vivek is the grandson of HT Narayan Shetty, a backward class leader and a close associate of former Karnataka chief minister late D Devaraj Urs. The people of Hallegere are delighted about the prospects of their man occupying a high post in the White House.

They say that he has not forgotten his mother tongue Kannada and still speaks it at home.

Dr Vivek Murthy has not forgotten his roots. He visits Hallegere every year and has donated millions of dollars to promote education in his ancestral place.

Dr Murthy is the son of Dr HN Lakshmi Narasimha Murthy, alumni of Mysore Medical College, who served in various capacities in the UK. Dr Murthy's sister Rashmi is also a physician in Florida. With his roots in Hallegere, he makes annual trips and conducts free camps under his family-funded Scope Foundation. A team of doctors, along with his family members, have conducted free eye camps and operated on 60 people in the past.

They also presented 100 computers to government schools in and around Maddur Taluk. Although Vivek Murthy and his family had plans to donate computers to all schools in Mandya district, they decided to go slow as many of the systems were not being put to use due to the lack of power supply and maintenance.

However, the Scope Foundation has decided to provide solar kits so that computers can be used in schools. Dr Murthy had also expressed his desire to give suggestions to the central and state governments on the execution of free health cover and ways to improve services.

Dr Murthy was born in London and brought up in the US. He did BA from Harvard University, an MBA from Yale School of Management, and an MD from Yale School of Medicine.

Murthy was a hospitalist at The Brigham and is co-founder and president of Doctors for America, a Washington, DC-based group of 16,000 physicians and medical students that advocates for access to affordable, high- quality healthcare. His group, Doctors for America, was originally called Doctors for Obama and helped to campaign for Obama's election in both 2008 and 2012.

In 2011, Murthy was appointed a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. He has been the co-founder and chairman of the board of Trial Networks, formerly known as Epernicus, since 2007.

Despite stiff resistance by the powerful gun lobby in the US, Obama had appointed him as his surgeon general at just 37 in 2014. The US Senate had approved his appointment after a voting in the house.

As surgeon general, Murthy served as the nation's top spokesperson on public health issues. Boris Lushniak had served as acting surgeon general before him.

Senators in both parties had questioned whether Murthy was too inexperienced for the job, or whether his efforts to get Obama elected and support for the President's healthcare law made him too polarising a figure.

If Biden makes it to the most powerful job in the world, it will be party time for Dr Murthy's folks back home in Karnataka.