Indian-American Commissioner Ajit Pai likely to be Interim FCC Chair

President-elect Donald Trump and Indian-American commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai’s meeting on January 16 has fueled speculations about his role in the incoming administration.

Pai is widely expected to be tapped as interim FCC chair and could be named permanent chair as well. Michael O’Rielly – Pai’s fellow Republican commissioner is also in the conversation for the same position.

Ajit Pai is the Indian-American commissioner of the FCC
Ajit Pai – Indian-American commissioner of the FCC. Photo courtesy: ​

Currently, Tom Wheeler heads the FCC — the federal authority regulating radio, television, phone, cellphone spectrum and services, internet and satellite and cable. He is a nominee of the Democratic Party, and a change in leadership is due to the election of Trump.

The president-elect has been holding meetings at Trump Towers in New York with those whom he intends to appoint to senior positions in his administration beginning January 20.

The FCC chairman has to be approved by the Senate.

Pai, a free enterprise advocate in the Republican mold, has been a critic of the functioning of the FCC and has clashed with its leadership.

Recently, he took issue with an FCC report that questioned the legality of offerings that are used by people to access online music, videos, and other content free of charge.

He was nominated to the FCC by President Barack Obama and was confirmed unanimously by the Senate on May 7, 2012.

Pai, a lawyer who has served with the government, Congress and the private sector, was born in the U.S. after his parents, both doctors, moved to the country from India in 1971. His mother grew up in Bangalore, and father was raised in Hyderabad.