Saund's picture okayed for Capitol Hill
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Saund's picture okayed for Capitol Hill

Dalip Singh Saund was the first Indian American ever elected to the US House of Representatives.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2005 10:50 IST

The US House of Representatives has authorised monies for commissioning a portrait of late lawmaker Dalip Singh Saund, the first Indian American ever elected to that body.

Congressman Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, had introduced a resolution in January this year to put up a portrait of Saund in the US Capitol Building in recognition of the California legislator's legacy as the first Asian American ever to be elected to the national legislature back in 1956.

The portrait will be completed in approximately one year, followed by an unveiling ceremony on Capitol Hill.

"From a small village in India to the halls of Congress, Dalip Singh Saund demonstrated that a person with perseverance and optimism can overcome tremendous obstacles and achieve remarkable successes," said Rep Wilson announcing the House authorisation.

"Today, I am thrilled to announce a tribute to Dalip Singh Saund and his extraordinary legacy. By permanently placing his portrait on Capitol Hill, we will commemorate his service and recognise America's unique culture, which enables all Americans regardless of race, religion, or national origin, to reach the very heights of success," Wilson added.

He particularly thanked clerk of the House Karen Haas, house curator Farar Elliott and his own legislative director Dino Teppara, an Indian American, "for their hard work during the commissioning process".

The late Saund was elected three times to the House from California, beginning in 1957.

Born in 1899, in Chhajulwadi, Punjab, Saund immigrated to the US, got a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1924, and was president of the Hindustan Association of America as a student there.

He was a successful farmer for nearly 30 years in Imperial Valley, California, and from 1946, played an important role in ending restrictions that prohibited Indian immigrants from becoming naturalised citizens.

In 1952, Saund was elected justice of the peace in Westmorland, California, and a Post Office in that state has already been named after him.

Saund visited India as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 1957.

Teppara told the agency: "After working for more than a year-and-a-half on this important project, we're proud that Dalip Singh Saund's portrait will soon be displayed on Capitol Hill.

"Now, when Indian American families visit Congress, they can see Saund's portrait, which will serve as a reminder of his legacy and proof that all Americans can achieve their dreams."

First Published: Dec 21, 2005 10:47 IST