Former President APJ Abdul Kalam Dies At 83

27/07/2015 9:10 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam addresses the audience during the inauguration of the Centre of Excellence in High Speed Aerodynamics at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on November 8, 2011. The former president held Abdul Kalam has backed the Koodankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu after visiting and holding discussions with concerned officials on safety aspects while locals have intensified their protests saying they are not willing to enter into a dialogue with him. AFP PHOTO/Manjunath KIRAN (Photo credit should read Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam died in Shillong on Monday evening of a suspected cardiac arrest. He collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management and was rushed to Bethany hospital around 7 pm. He was declared dead after all efforts to revive him failed.

The 11th president of India had gone to teach at the youngest of the IIMs where he was part of the visiting faculty.

"He was brought into hospital without a pulse or BP. There was no sign of life," said Dr John Sailo, Bethany hospital's CEO to The Quint.

'Missile Man Of India'

Dr. Kalam came from an extremely modest family background in Tamil Nadu and sold newspapers as a boy to supplement his father's income. He graduated in physics and went on to study aerospace engineering at Madras Institute of Technology, where he worked as a scientist in Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for almost a decade before moving to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). There he became the project director of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle and went on to be deeply involved in almost major scientific advance that India made in the space and nuclear sectors.

Kalam was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which he played a critical role and became India's best-known nuclear scientist.

In 1997, he received the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour for his contribution to scientific research in India. Five years later, he became the 11th President of India in 2002, and was affectionately known as the 'People's President'.

Kalam was very popular with children and young people and he reciprocated in equal measure at every opportunity. He travelled and lectured tirelessly, devoting his life to propagating ideas for a better India. He also evangelised the virtues of hardwork, dedication and perseverance among young people, using stories from his own inspirational life as anecdotes. He remained an extremely popular speaker despite his advancing years. His session at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year was the most popular session, as the entire festival venue was taken over by those who had come to listen to him.

He had over 40 honorary doctorates from countries across the world. He published over a dozen books, and at least six biographies have been written about him. He remained a bachelor all his life.

Union Home Secretary L C Goyal has said that the government will observe 7 days of mourning.

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