Congressman Dalip Singh Saund
The Global Punjabi Diaspora, Inc. recently (January 13, 2002) joined the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and the Indian American Friendship Council in sponsoring a tribute banquet dinner celebrating the 45th anniversary of the swearing in ceremony of the first Sikh, the first Punjabi, the first Indian and the first Asian American, late Dalip Singh Saund as US Congressman.
The gala banquet was organized at Cerritos Sheraton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA. The banquet was followed by a 3-hour seminar on the contributions of American pioneers from Indian subcontinent. Two congressmen, who currently share the old 29th congressional district of late Congressman Saund, were invited in addition to several state legislators and many other dignitaries.
Saund family members met the participant and shared their memories of the congressman. Several scholars presented research on our unsung pioneers, including Dalip Singh Saund, their contributions and the lessons we can learn from their remarkable achievements.
Congressman Dalip Singh Saund is the only Sikh to be elected to the US Congress. Thus far, he is the only Indian American who occupied this highly visible and honorable position. He was first elected in 1956 and reelected in 1958 and 1960 and, while contesting election in 1962 he suffered a stroke and could not be elected for his fourth term.
Dalip Singh Saund came to USA in 1920 and received MA in 1922 and PhD in 1924 in Mathematics from UC Berkley. On graduation, his choice of professions and jobs in those days was very limited. He started his first job as a foreman of a cotton-picking gang at a farming ranch, a job that hardly required any schooling much less a college degree. A few years later, he himself became a farmer and ventured into growing of lettuce. But being a foreigner in USA from India, he was not allowed to become a citizen or own a home or land. So, to make a living as a farmer, he had to lease the land and that too, in the name of someone else who was a citizen.
It was at a time when Indian immigrants were not welcomed in the United States. Saund along with some others championed the cause of citizenship for East Indians, which after a long struggle was granted in 1946 by Congress.
Dalip Singh Saund became a U.S. citizen in 1949 as one of the early Sikh pioneers, got elected as judge and then U.S. Congressman. Sikh Americans take pride in his accomplishments and invoke his accomplishments in every Diaspora discussion or conference. He is in every book published on that subject. Till this day, no Indian American has yet matched his political success. But, every Indian American seeking political office invokes Saund's name. He is a source of inspiration and a worthy role model to look up to.
3818 Gleneagles Drive, Tarzana, CA 91356
Tel: 818 708-3885, Fax: 253-540-3856
Harbans Lal, Ph.D., D.Litt (hons)
6415 Amicable Drive, Arlington, TX 76016
Phone: 817-654-0844, Fax: 707-922-7724