The Commitment of Dalip Singh Saund

Uploaded by OnTargetEnglish on 19.03.2011

The theme for this month is commitment. A commitment to change is different from just
a hope for change. A commitment to change is deeper than just an interest in change.
Many who are watching this video want to see some big changes in their lives. I recently
learned about the life of Dalip Singh Saund. He became the first Asian-American member
of the United States Congress in 1957. His story of determination inspired me to show
a deeper level of commitment, and I want to share some of his story with you.
Dalip Singh Saund moved from India to the United States in 1920, and he studied mathematics
at the University of California, Berkeley. There, he earned a master's degree in 1922
and a Ph.D. in 1924.
But there was strong prejudice against Asian Indians. A national law ordered that they
could not become citizens of the United states. In fact, his wife, an American citizen, lost
her citizenship because she married Saund.
He worked as a farmer and then as a fertilizer distributor until the 1950s. During these
decades, he was committed to improving opportunities and gaining American citizenship for Asian
Indians in the United States.
In the late 1940s, a new national law allowed Indian Americans to become citizens, and Saund
became an American citizen in 1949. A few years later, he was elected as a judge in
his town of Westmorland, California.
In 1955, he announced that he was seeking an office in the United States Congress. In
the preface to his book Congressman from India, he wrote,
Two of the greatest satisfactions in my professional life came first, when my children, together
with my daughter-in-law and son-in-law, volunteered to ring doorbells for me in the campaign in
1956, and second, when in that same election the citizens of my own small home town of
Westmorland, my neighbors of thirty years, voted over 80 per cent in my favor as an expression
of their confidence.
After thirty years of working to advance opportunities for Indian Americans, Dalip Singh Saund became
not only the first Indian American member of Congress but also the first Asian American
member of Congress.
In the United States Capitol building hangs a portrait of Saund painted by Jon R. Friedman.
A well-known quotation by Saund appears at the bottom of the painting: "There is no room
in the United States of America for second-class citizenship."
When this portrait was first displayed at the United States Capitol, Dalip Saund’s
grandson Eric Saund said that his grandfather “took a positive attitude to everything.
He encountered barriers and he acknowledged them, but he didn’t dwell on them.”
Dalip Saund displayed a remarkable level of commitment. His story is a reminder that making
significant change is possible.
Now, I have two questions for you. First, what are some common excuses that people give
for avoiding necessary changes in their lives? Second, how can the story of Dalip Singh Saund
inspire them to make the changes that they need to make? Add your comment to the discussion
below this video.