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Saund with President Kennedy
Saund with President Kennedy

Stockton was the political and intellectual center of the colony. Imperial Valley was one of its concentration areas.

The Hindustani Association of America was active in Berkeley. After two years, young Saund was elected as its national president. "All of us," he wrote later, "were ardent nationalists and we never passed up an opportunity to expound on India's rights." Here he learned at least one lesson in tactics. A political science professor was invited to speak. "First," wrote Saund, "I delivered a half-hour talk on the right of India to independence and the inequities of English rule. He floored me with questions that I couldn't promptly answer."

From such defeats smart politicians learn. By the time he had launched his career in American politics, Saund was usually in possession of more relevant facts than were his opponents.

He spent summers working for canneries, for McNeill, McNeill and Libby and for California Packing Corporation (Del Monte), in Sacramento and Emeryville. According to his own later recollection, he was highly rated as a management prospect in canning but downgraded because he expressed a consuming interest in Indian liberation.

The Saund Family
The Saund family

Added Master's and Doctorate

In addition to technical studies in the College of Agriculture, Saund took courses in mathematics, his major field at Amritsar. The upshot was that, on invitation, he switched to that field, earning both a master's and a doctor's degree.

The doctorate was granted in May 1924. Having overstayed his intended time limit, he later wrote: "Even though life for me did not seem very easy, it had become impossible to think of life separated from the United States... The only way Indians in California could make a living at that time was to join with others who had settled in various parts of the state as farmers."

The Saund for Congress campaign
The Saund for Congress campaign

Probably Saund had long been in touch with Hindus in Imperial Valley some of whom, despite menial beginnings, had become wealthy farmers. One of them offered him a summer job as foreman of a cotton-picking crew. "And so," he wrote, "in the summer of 1925 I decided to go to the Southern California desert valley and make my living as a farmer. "

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As a Congressman, Saund made some notable contributions. In February of 1961, he led a House delegation of 11 members to the first conference of the Mexico-United States Interparliamentary Group in Guadalajara. Many believe he was almost prophetic in his views about channeling foreign aid through central governments. He was convinced it would lead to corruption and fought to add the Saund Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 over the objections of the Kennedy administration.

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