Shyam Saran Negi: India's First Voter

Shyam Saran Negi is a historic figure in India's democracy for casting his vote in the country's first general election in 1951. A school teacher in Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh, Negi was a member of the polling team and cast the first vote on 25 October 1951. Since then, he has voted in every general election until his death in 2022. Negi was not only the country's oldest voter, but also the first. Shyam Saran Negi also made a special appearance in some Bollywood movie like Sanam Re. At the age of 105, he exercised his right to franchise for the 34th time for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections through a postal ballot at his residence in Kinnaur district. Negi hailed from the tribal district of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh and was a teacher by profession. He cast his vote through a postal ballot for the first time during the 14th Vidhan Sabha elections. 

Postal Ballot: It refers to the distribution of ballot papers to registered voters by post instead of people coming to the polling booth directly to vote.These votes are returned in the post or handed in person in the elections office or at a polling station .

The 1951 general election was India's first election since the end of British rule in 1947. Most of the polling for that first election took place in February 1952. However, Himachal Pradesh went to the polls six months early because the weather there tends to be inclement in February and March, and heavy snowfall during that period would have made it impossible for citizens to reach the polling stations.

The Indian National Congress won a landslide victory, and Jawaharlal Nehru became India's first democratically elected prime minister after nearly 100 years of British rule from 1848 to 1947. 

Negi cast his first vote in Shonthong polling station. His polling party had to trek long distances to conduct polling in Purvani-Ribba-Moarang-Nesong over a period of 10 days. Negi's dedication to his duty was remarkable, and his enthusiasm for voting remained undiminished for over seven decades.

Honours and Acknowledgements

The Election Commission's diamond jubilee celebrations

In 2010, the then Chief Election Commissioner of India, Navin Chawla, visited Negi's village to honor him as part of the Election Commission's diamond jubilee celebrations. 

Google India's public service announcement

In 2014, Google India created a public service announcement featuring Negi, who shared his experience of participating in independent India's first election and stressed the importance of voting. Negi emphasized that participating in the democratic process is not only our right but also our duty, and urged the youth to come forward and exercise their franchise. He was also appointed as a state election icon/brand ambassador in 2014. 

PM Modi's acknowledgement of Negi's commitment

Negi's dedication to democracy and his commitment to his duty as a citizen of India were acknowledged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. When Negi cast his vote for the 34th time on November 2, 2022, which became his last, PM Modi tweeted, "This is commendable and should serve as an inspiration for the younger voters to take part in the elections and strengthen our democracy."

Negi as an inspiration for young voters

Shyam Saran Negi holds a special place in the history of Independent India, as he was the first voter of the nation. However, Negi's contribution to the country's democratic system goes beyond just being the first voter. He was a man with exceptional faith in democracy and believed that every citizen should have the right to vote and participate in the country's decision-making process.

Negi's legacy should serve as an inspiration to young voters to take part in the elections and contribute to strengthening the nation. His story is one of dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm. Despite living in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh, Negi never missed an opportunity to cast his vote. He was an active participant in the democratic process and believed that every vote counted towards building a better future for the country.

As citizens, we should take pride in our voting rights, as it empowers us to choose the right representative to lead the nation. Negi's dedication to the democratic process and his unwavering commitment to exercising his right to vote should serve as a reminder to all of us to exercise our voting rights responsibly.

In conclusion, Negi's legacy will continue to inspire Indians to exercise their right to vote and contribute to strengthening the country's democracy. His story is a testament to the importance of active participation in the democratic process and the role that every citizen plays in building a better future for the nation.


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