India’s ex-president ‘missile man’ Kalam passes away

28th Jul 2015
India’s ex-president ‘missile man’ Kalam passes away

MUMBAI, (AA): Former Indian president and reputed scientist APJ Abdul Kalam passed away on Monday evening in the northeastern city of Shillong after suffering a heart attack.

Kalam, a popular and inspirational figure for Indian students, was delivering a speech at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Meghalaya state, when he suddenly collapsed. The 83-year-old was later declared dead at a hospital.

“Going to Shillong…to take course on livable Planet Earth at IIM,” Kalam had tweeted just hours before his death.

Kalam, who was the Indian president from 2002 to 2007, played a key role in India’s nuclear tests in 1998 and its space program, and was fondly known as the “missile man”.

“India mourns the loss of a great scientist, a wonderful president & above all an inspiring individual. RIP Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

“Dr. Kalam…my mind is filled with so many memories, so many interactions with him. Always marveled at his intellect, learnt so much from him,” Modi tweeted.

The Indian premier also said that Kalam loved students and spent his final moments among them.

The Indian government declared seven days of national mourning over his death.

Kalam, born to the family of a boatman in southern state of Tamil Nadu, studied physics and aerospace, and worked nearly for four decades as a scientist at the Defense Research and Development Organization and Indian Space and Research Organization. He was the recipient of many awards, including the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award.

He was also the author of many books and described himself as a “scientist, teacher, learner, writer”. Since 2007, Kalam had been working towards the goal for an “economically developed India by 2020”.

Author: Mubasshir Mushtaq
[Photo: Former President Abdul Kalam/Creative Commons]

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