India’s 11th President APJ Abdul Kalam died on Monday evening at a hospital in Meghalaya, where he had gone to deliver a lecture. He was 83. The former President had collapsed during the lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, around 6.30 pm. He was taken to the Bethany hospital. Doctors said he had suffered from a massive cardiac arrest.
“President Kalam was brought to the hospital at 7 pm. When he brought in there was no sign of life. He was taken to ICU to try and revive him, which was futile,” hospital sources told NDTV. The government will declare a seven-day national mourning, reported Press Trust of India, quoting Union Home Secretary LC Goel.
Messages of condolence also poured in from various leaders. Known as the Missile Man of India, Dr Kalam had played a pivotal role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998. One of the most loved Presidents, he was also known as the People’s President.
For his achievements, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna, and then he became the 11th President of India in 2002. Dr Kalam was born in Rameswaram on October 15, 1931, to a poor family. His father was a boatman.
A bright student, his interest in flying led to a degree in aeronautical engineering, and eventually to supervising the development of India’s guided missile programme. He went abroad to study only once, in 1963-’64, to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States.