US House Votes to Honour Dalip Singh Saund
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to honour Dalip Singh Saund by naming a California post office after the late Indian American congressman.

The Bill, which was passed 410-0, was sponsored by Congressman Darrell Issa and co-sponsored by Congressman Bobby Jindal, only the second Indian American Congressman in the history of the United States of America.

The act names a post office in Temecula, California, after the first Indian-American member of the U.S. Congress who represented California.

“Dalip Saund’s story is one of determination and true accomplishment,” Mr Jindal said. “He personifies the idea that every person can, through hard work and dedication, achieve amazing heights.”

Mr Saund was born in 1899 in the village of Chhajalwadi in Punjab. He came to the United States in 1920 to study food preservation at the University of California at Berkeley. He eventually switched to mathematics and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D in the subject.

Despite his educational qualifications Mr Saund worked as a lettuce farmer as the only work South Asians were permitted to do in the United States in the 1920s was in the field of agriculture. Indians were also not eligible for U.S. citizenship.

Following an amendment to the law, Mr Saund became a citizen in 1949 and in 1956 was elected to Congress, where he served three terms.

“Dalip Saund’s election to Congress brought pride and joy not only to Indian-Americans, but to all Americans,” Mr Jindal said. “Each of us owes a debt of gratitude to his trailblazing efforts, so that America could continue to be a land of opportunity.”

Former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressman Joe Wilson said renaming the post office for Mr Saund would “properly honour and remember one of California’s most respected and accomplished leaders.”

Mr Wilson also introduced a Bill in the House calling for a portrait of Mr Saund to be displayed on Capitol Hill.

“The ‘Dalip Singh Saund Post Office Building’ will honour an American who followed his dream to the United States, broke barriers, and served as a representative of the people,” said Mr Issa.

“This act of Congress will preserve Congressman Saund’s legacy and honors the success of all immigrants from India and their accomplishments.”

The House resolution now heads for the Senate where it is expected to be promptly passed and signed into law by President George W. Bush.