Rest in peace, Dr Kalam!

In what came as a surprise and a shock for all, India’s 11th President Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam passed away in Shillong on Monday evening after suffering a cardiac arrest. He collapsed while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong and was taken to a hospital but he was declared brought dead.

He was born on October 15, 1931 and died at the age of 83 but was more agile than even a teenager. A student of physics, he was a hero in his career in aerospace engineering and attained scientific excellence. However, his heroism did not just prevail in the scientific arena. Even while he was among India’s oldest presidents, he successfully became India’s youth icon.


He took the oath of office in 2002 as the 11th President of the country and remained in office till 2007. The respect that he commanded from all spectrums of political lines and people from all walks of life led to his unanimous selection to the office of the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces of India. Towards the end of his tenure, there were demands of a second term for him, however, he maintained that he was willing to take it up only if it was a unanimous decision. Kalam stepped down as President in 2007 but continued to work for the country and inspire millions along the way.

He was one of India’s most eminent scientists, and had the unique honour of receiving honorary doctorates from 30 universities and institutions. He took the lead in the conduct of India’s nuclear tests in May 1998. As scientific advisor to the Defence Minister from July 1992 to December 1999, the former President led the “weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in collaboration with Department of Atomic Energy”. Apart from leading the Indian Space Research Organisation’s satellite launch programme, Mr. Kalam headed the country’s guided missile programme for many years.


He was awarded the coveted civilian awards – Padma Bhushan (1981) and Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (1997). He received several other awards and was Fellow of many professional institutions.
Popular with children and young people, Dr. Kalam always had his ways of reaching out to the people, either by his words, his lectures or his books. He engaged the youth by reaching out to them through lectures and public interactions. One of the most loved presidents of the country, he utilised any opportunity that came his way to address students, especially school children, to dream big so that they became achievers in life. It is simply gratifying that when he breathed his last, he was amid students answering their questions, clearing their doubts.

In one of his last few tweets he said, “an indomitable spirit stands on two feet.. vision and firm thought.”

Watch the link: Dr A P J Abdul Kalam during his last speech in Shillong College on 27 July 2015.