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Rediff.com  » News » Trump names Indian-American Ajit Pai to head US communications commission

Trump names Indian-American Ajit Pai to head US communications commission

January 24, 2017 12:51 IST

United States President Donald Trump has picked Ajit Vardaraj Pai, an outspoken opponent of new net neutrality, to head the crucial Federal Communications Commission, making him the fourth Indian-American in the administration at the senior level.

"I am deeply grateful to the President of the United States for designating me the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission," Pai said in a statement.

"I look forward to working with the new administration, my colleagues at the commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans," the 44-year-old said.

Congratulating Pai on being named Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, its Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said he is bright, driven and committed to bringing connectivity to all Americans.

"I am hopeful that we can come together to serve the public interest by supporting competition, public safety, and consumer protection," Clyburn said.

Republican Senator Jerry Moran said Pai is an excellent choice to lead the FCC.

"I know him to be a capable and talented leader and one of the smartest people I have ever met when it comes to public policy," he said.

"Ajit understands the importance of quality access to broadband and wireless connectivity, and I believe growing up in Kansas makes him uniquely qualified to advocate for rural America. I look forward to continuing to work with him to make certain we can improve connectivity and bring critical updates not only to our homes and businesses but also to our hospitals and schools," he added.

"Commissioner Pai's expertise on the issues has been well documented and we're looking forward to working with him to advance conservative, thoughtful solutions at the FCC," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn in a joint statement.

Republican Congressman Tom Graves said Pai has the type of experience and no-nonsense attitude that will help reset the FCC's relationship with Congress.

"Further, I am confident that he will work on a nonpartisan basis to stop harmful regulations, develop lawful and Constitutional solutions to 21st Century problems, and protect the American people's access to information while allowing the industries under his purview to grow and prosper," he said.

Pai is the fourth Indian-American to become part of Trump's administration, following Nikki Haley, nominated US ambassador to the United Nations, Seema Verma, head of medicare and medicaid and Preet Bharara, US attorney for the southern District of New York.

The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the US government to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

Pai's deep knowledge and experience at the commission makes him the right person to begin undoing the damage of the previous administration and rolling back the harmful, partisan regulations that choke investment and innovation in the communications sector, said Congressman Ron Johnson.

However, Democratic Senator Edward Markey said that he will oppose Pai as FCC head.

"We need an FCC that protects consumers, promotes competition, and spurs innovation," he said.

"I will vigorously oppose any efforts by leadership at the FCC to undo net neutrality and broadband privacy rules, undermine E-Rate, or roll back any fundamental consumer protections," Markey said.

Pai, a Republican, was nominated by the previous US President Barack Obama, as a FCC Commissioner and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on May 7, 2012.

Pai's regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles.

Rules that reflect these principles will result in more innovation, more investment, better products and services, lower prices, more job creation, and faster economic growth.

He believes that consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulation.

Free markets have delivered more value to American consumers than highly regulated ones.

He believes that no regulatory system should indulge arbitrage, regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals, dispense favours, or otherwise afford special treatment.

Pai believes that particularly given how rapidly the communications sector is changing, the FCC should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of economics.

Pai was born in the US after his parents moved from India to the US in 1971.

His mother grew up in Bangalore, and father was raised in Hyderabad.

Lalit K Jha
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