Why is Vivek Murthy misleading us about his background?

3 min readDec 18, 2020

Vivek Murthy has been nominated to the top medical post in the US by the Biden-Harris team. Here is an extract from a statement released by him upon his nomination. “I will dedicate myself to caring for every American, driven always by science and facts, by head and heart- and endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India can be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of the entire nation.”

This set me thinking. I took a quick glance at Wiki and realized that Dr. Murthy was a highly educated and accomplished person. He also struck me as someone with a privileged background. Why did Vivek Murthy use the words “grandson of a poor farmer” to describe himself? I was curious to find out more. Turns out he was indeed the grandson of a farmer. However, his grandfather was far from poor. He was a farmer in Mandya district in the state of Karnataka. This is one of the most valuable agricultural districts in the state. His grandfather was a director in two large companies. Not exactly credentials of a poor farmer. One of Dr. Murthy’s uncles was the Managing Director (CEO) of a public company. All of this contradicts the notion of a toiling farmer sweating away in the hot sun trying to eke out a living. This was presumably, the image that Dr. Murthy intended to convey when he used the expression ‘poor farmer’

Dr. Murthy’s own parents were doctors. They migrated to Yorkshire in England where Vivek was born. They then decided to migrate to the US and establish their practice in Miami. The point is about mobility. Dr. Murthy’s father had a choice of becoming a successful doctor in India and making a lot of money. But he chose to go to the UK. For some reason he felt the US may be a better place and chose to cross the pond and settle down in the US. The point is that his family including his grandfather had choices. Without these choices, who knows where his brilliance may have led him?

All the above information is publicly available. Then why is Dr. Murthy trying to paint a humbler picture of his background? I think we all love a “rags to riches” narrative. The reference to the poor farmer helps this theme. This also supports the notion of the US as a haven for the poor and struggling. Here is the ugly truth- most of the Indians that migrate to the US especially in the past two decades or so do not fit this description at all. A majority are educated folks coming from upper- or…


Ever learning and ever curious wannabe businessman