India's first voter, ex-school teacher: Shyam Saran Negi has never missed an election
India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi cast his vote on Sunday in a polling booth in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur in the first phase of the panchayat elections being held in the state. Despite failing vision and aching knees, the 103-year-old Negi exercised his franchise at the Kalpa polling booth, where he was welcomed by the district administration, who laid a red carpet for the retired school teacher.
Here’s everything you need to know about Shyam Saran Singh, country’s first voter:
1. Born on July 1, 1917, in Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh, Negi cast his first vote on October 25, 1951, in the first elections held in the country since the end of the British rule in 1947. Negi first voted at Chini (now called Kalpa) which is in Kinnaur, 235km northeast of the state capital of Shimla.
2. Negi has voted in every general election since then and is believed to be India's oldest voter.
3. Negi lived in oblivion for 45 years till the Election Commission tracked him in July 2007 when Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Manisha Nanda, first learnt about him from the photo electoral roll. M Sudha Devi, a 2003 batch IAS officer then posted as Kinnaur deputy commissioner, went to meet Negi, who was amongst the reputed village men in Kalpa. Negi told Devi that he was the first voter of Independent India and had never missed casting a vote in his entire life.
4. In 2010, the then chief election commissioner of India, Navin Chawla, visited Negi's village to honour him as part of the Election Commission's diamond jubilee celebrations.
5. Google India produced a public service announcement in 2014 in which Negi talked about his participation in Independent India's first election and reminded viewers of the importance of voting. The video got more views than others launched under the same campaign featuring Bollywood actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Diya Mirza and Arjun Rampal and cricketer Virender Sehwag.
6. Negi was the brand ambassador of the Election Commission of India for the 2014 general election.
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