India’s first Lok Sabha elections took place in 1952. But five months prior to the general elections, the then 34-year-old Shyam Saran Negi became the first person in free India to cast his vote. Due to the high probability of snowfall in the winter months, polling in a few districts of Himachal Pradesh was advanced by a few months.
A resident of Kalpa village in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district, Negi reached the polling station at 6:30 AM on October 25, 1951, to cast his vote. Since then, he has voted in all 16 Lok Sabha elections and 13 assembly elections. Inspired by the struggle for independence, he weaved khadi for an hour each day at the school he taught in after independence in order to contribute to make India self-sufficient. Over the years, he has become a strong proponent for democracy. He told Firstpost,
“People just don’t understand the value of their vote. I have seen the suffering the British inflicted.”
He was made the brand ambassador of the Election Commission of India for the 2014 general election. Now 102 years old, he is excited to exercise his franchise again in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls.