Former President A P J Abdul Kalam, the ‘missile man’ who became popular as ‘People’s President’ died today after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest and collapsed during a lecture at the IIM here this evening.
Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October, 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.
Here are five stories you must read on the life and times of A P J Abdul Kalam:
It was a setting that had defined his life, first as a scientist and then as India’s 11th President. It was also one that summed up his final moments. On the dais was Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, delivering the first lines of a lecture on sustainable development, to be followed by a trademark interaction with over 135 students from the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management (RG-IIM) in Shillong.
But then, at around 6.30 pm, just as he had clicked past the first two slides, he collapsed — 75 minutes later, it was official. “All efforts were made but Dr A P J Abdul Kalam could not be revived,” the Bethany Hospital said in a statement.
“Tomorrow if I address a group of youngsters and talk about the flag flying in my heart and how I will uphold the dignity of the nation, I can get them to dream. But if I talk to people who are 40, 50 or 70 plus, it will not go down that well. Also, the youth have fewer biases about their society as compared to the grown-ups,” said Kalam.
Kalam was also instrumental in laying the foundation of the rocket launch systems at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) during a nearly two decade stint at ISRO from the late 1960s to 1982.
Known as the people’s President, he was the first occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhawan who connected to masses, particularly the youth, who accessed him via the internet.
Kalam was one of the few young scientists sent by Dr Vikram Sarabhai for training of ‘sounding rockets’ at the National Aeronautics Space Agency in the US. When he reached Thumba in 1964, Kalam had little to fall back on. He had converted a cattle shed at this coast into a laboratory to work on sounding rockets.