Age 105…Meet independent India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi

Independent India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi who hails from Himachal Pradesh celebrated his 105th birthday. His birthday was celebrated at his home in Kalpa of tribal Kinnaur district where family members, local villagers, and administrative officials had gathered. Shyam Saran is a retired schoolteacher in Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh, who cast the first vote in the 1951 general election in India — the nation’s first election since the end of British Rule in 1947. 

In 2021, India’s first voter cast his 33rd vote amid his failing vision and aching knees. He never failed in his duty to vote in every election, he tried to maintain his duty to cast vote in India. Popularly known as Masterjee in the village, the wheelchair-bound centenarian was accorded a warm welcome in every election day in the state. 

In 1952, most of the polling for that first election took place in February. However, Himachal Pradesh went to poll five months earlier due to adverse weather conditions in February and March, with heavy snowfall during those periods making it impossible for citizens to vote. Shyam Saran Negi was among those who went to cast their votes and he was the first to vote on October 25, 1952.

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Negi was born on July 1, 1917, and also made a special appearance in the Hindi film “Sanam Re”. He said he never missed casting his vote ever since then whether it be a panchayat election or the Lok Sabha polls. This itself made him stand apart from other veterans in the state. 

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. In 2014, Google India produced a public service announcement in which Negi told of his participation in independent India’s first election and reminded viewers of the importance of voting. During the 2014 elections, Google made a video featuring Negi for its pledge to vote campaign.