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Late Sh. Dalip Singh Saund

Late Sh. Dalip Singh Saund Member of the United States House

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Late Sh. Dalip Singh Saund
Member of the United States House


Dalip Singh Saund was born on September 20, 1899, in a small village called Chhajalwadi, in northwestern India's Punjab region. He was raised in the Sikh faith and wore a turban, required of some Sikh men, for much of the first part of his life. Saund's family, relatively prosperous, was involved in farming and construction, and one of his brothers went on to become chairman of India's railway board. Saund received the best education India had to offer, attending a boarding school in Baba Bakala, near Amritsar, and Prince of Wales College in Jammu Tawi (now the University of Jammu), and graduating in 1919 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Panjab University in Chandigarh.

Although his parents wanted him to enter the service of the British government in India, Saund was determined to go to the United States. He told his parents that he wanted to study food preservation and then return to India to help develop the country's canning industry, and he promised to stay in America for only three years at the most. Saund sailed for the United States in 1920, was processed for admission at Ellis Island in New York, and took a train across the country to San Francisco, eating only milk and bread because he was unfamiliar with the American foods around him.

After a night in a bedbug-ridden hotel room in San Francisco, he settled into a boarding house in Berkeley that had been established by a Sikh temple in Stockton, California. He was almost penniless, but a fellow Indian student told him that since he had an undergraduate degree from India he could enroll at the University of California as a graduate student and pay no tuition charges. Saund studied agriculture for a year but then switched to his earlier passion, mathematics, when he discovered that his previous coursework in India would be accepted by the university. He received his M.A. in 1922 and went on for a Ph.D., mastering the French and German languages as required and receiving his degree in 1924.

He was an American politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He served the 29th District of California from January 3, 1957 to January 3, 1963. He was the first Sikh American, the first Asian American, the first Indian American and the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to Congress.

Born in Chhajulwadi, Punjab, India, to a Sikh family, he received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Punjab in 1919. He immigrated to the United States (via Ellis Island) originally to study agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley. While at the university, he obtained a master's degree (1922) and a PhD (1924), both in mathematics. His studies were sponsored by Stockton Gurdwara as he lived in the gurdwara-owned Guru Nanak Khalsa Hostel. Stockton Gurdwara was "the first permanent Sikh American settlement and gurdwara in the United States.He thereafter remained in the United States, becoming a successful farmer.

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