i. Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, widely acclaimed as the “people’s President”, passed away after collapsing during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong.
ii. Mr. Kalam (83), who was President between 2002 and 2007, took the lead in the conduct of India’s nuclear tests in May 1998 and was later fielded as the National Democratic Alliance candidate by then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee.
iii. Mr. Kalam, the country’s 11th President, was one of India’s most eminent scientists, and had the unique honour of receiving honorary doctorates from 30 universities and institutions.
iv. He has been awarded the coveted civilian awards – Padma Bhushan (1981) and Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (1997). He is a recipient of several other awards and Fellow of many professional institutions.
v. 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”.
vi. One of his pet themes was PURA – or the Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas – a theme he referred to often in his travels abroad.