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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

India's first voter beats Amitabh in virtual world

Naresh K Thakur, Hindustan Times  Dharamsala, March 26, 2014
First Published: 18:07 IST(26/3/2014) | Last Updated: 18:16 IST(26/3/2014)

The video on the inspirational story of independent India's first voter, Shyam Saran Negi, has gone viral on the internet. The video, which was posted by Google India under its 'Pledge To Vote' campaign on March 24 evening, attracted over 18,000 viewers within hours it was first put on the internet.

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Shot in the picturesque Kalpa town in Kinnaur district, the video portrays the story of 97-year-old Negi, who cast the first ballot of free India 63 years ago on October 25, 1951.

While YouTube is flooded with comments showing respect to Negi, another video launched under the same campaign featuring celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Diya Mirza, Arjun Rampal and cricketer Virender Sehwag has been viewed by 1,500 viewers so far.

"This is the true story of a man who never missed an opportunity to vote. Negi, a school teacher from a remote village in the foothills of Himalayas, has voted in every general election since 1951. Negi pledges to vote in the 2014 elections, and so should you," Google India in the description posted with the video said.

Exhorting people to vote in elections, Google India said that "he has voted in every single election since 1951. The 2.34-minute video shows how he struggles through the bad weather to reach the polling booth but gives no excuse for not casting the vote."

Google India's campaign 'Pledge To Vote' is aimed at getting India to vote in the upcoming elections, particularly when the young electorates are lost in thought whether their one vote could bring a change or not.

In the video narrating his story to children, Negi said: "Today is a very special day, a chance to do something big. Back then, it used to snow a lot here and road would get blocked. In wake of the hostile weather conditions elections were held in Kinnaur six months before the nation. I still remember the joy, the pride I felt that day. Come rain or snow, this is one thing I never fail to do."

Negi receives heartwarming welcome by the voters and officials for his efforts as he gets his finger inked saying, "Even today I feel the same pride and joy."

Though Indian democracy has hit a low-marred by corruption and scandals, Negi never lost his faith in democracy and is determined to vote in 2014. He is described as 'Believer in power of democracy' by Google India.


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