Former President of the Republic of India Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam is no more. Dr. APJ Kalam, known as the ‘missile man’ of India died on Monday evening after he collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. Dr. Kalam, also known as the ‘People’s President’ would have turned 84 in October.
The 11th head of the state occupied the position between 2002 and 2007. A Seven day national mourning period has been declared. Both the Houses of Parliament will be making an obituary reference and adjourn as a mark of respect to his memory.
“In his passing away, we have lost a great son of India who dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the motherland and its people. Dr. Kalam was a people’s President during his lifetime and will remain so even after his death,” said President Pranab Mukherjee paying rich tributes to Dr. Kalam.
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari also paid condolences to the departed former head of the state.
“Saddened to learn of the sudden and untimely demise of former President of India Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam…Dr. Kalam was a true son of India and his contributions to the nation, in his capacity as a man of technology, a teacher and a leader will be deeply cherished by a grateful nation,” said Vice President Ansari.
The late former President was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 PM when he was interacting with the students.
“He was a great scientist who contributed immensely in the field of science and technology as well as space. I have lost a marg darshark. He was a source of inspiration for the whole country, particularly the youth. Even in his last days, he remained connected,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his message condoling Dr. Kalam’s loss.
Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi too expressed sorrow over the passing away of former President.
“Deeply saddened at the passing away of DrAPJ Abdul Kalam.A man of many parts-he won over the hearts and minds of a nation with his warmth and wisdom,” Gandhi said.
Dr. Kalam was honoured with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in 1997, for his contribution to the missile programme. He was also awarded Padma Bhushan in 1981 and Padma Vibhushan in 1990.
Born in Rameshwaram town of Tamil Nadu on 15th October 1931, Dr. APJ Kalam rose from humble origins to become the President during the BJP-led NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.
An aeronautical engineer from Madras Institute of Technology, Dr. Kalam was considered the brain behind missile programme in India and as the Chief Scientific Adviser to former PM Vajpayee, he was also instrumental in the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998.
Among his rich legacy, Dr. Kalam is also known for the books he authored namely ‘Wings of Fire’, ‘India 2020′ and ‘Ignited Minds’.
As President, Kalam utilised every opportunity that came to him to address students, especially the school children, to dream big so that they became achievers in life.
A bachelor, the former President was a veena player and was deeply interested in Carnatic music. He was vegetarian all his life.
(With inputs from the PTI)