“India’s first voter” has died

Shyam on left, photo by Outlook India.

A retired teacher labeled “India’s first voterdied on Saturday morning. The man, Shyam Saran Negi, passed away at 106 years old.

Shyam is believed to have been the first person to cast a ballot after India gained independence from the British, and held its first election in 1951. Ever since then, he has voted in every one of India’s elections.

On November 2, Shyam cast what was his very last ballot, just three days before he died. When Shyam cast his last vote, officials laid out a red carpet for him. He died having voted 34 times.

In Shyam’s last message, he encouraged young Indians to vote, noting that every single vote mattered. He said that every election was like a religious festival, so people should vote religiously so that good people are elected, Times of India reported.

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Shyam was reportedly an example of perseverance. His health had been declining, and he had bad knees and was hard of hearing. Yet, he preferred to walk on his own, and smiled a lot.

After Shyam died on Saturday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and other officials paid tribute to him at a rally. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said…

“The best example of his unwavering devotion towards democracy is that he cast his vote for the 34th time on November 2. My condolences to the departed soul.”

The government said that Shyam would be cremated with full state honours at his village in Kalpa.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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