SHILLONG (India) • Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam died yesterday at a hospital in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya, where he had gone to deliver a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, the Press Trust of India reported. He was 83.
Reports said Dr Abdul Kalam collapsed on stage at the institute and was rushed to hospital. He apparently suffered a heart attack.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted: "Deeply saddened at the sudden demise of the former president of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He was an inspiration to an entire generation."
Dr Abdul Kalam was the 11th president of India, serving between 2002 and 2007.
Born in Rameswaram in South India, he played a pivotal role in the country's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first since the test by India in 1974.
He was also known as India's Rocket Man for the pivotal role he played in the country's missile programme. He was conferred the nation's top honours, the Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna, in connection with his contributions in the field .
In 2006, Dr Abdul Kalam also mooted the idea of reviving the ancient Nalanda University which has received the backing of several countries, including Singapore, China, Thailand and Japan.
He was in Singapore shortly after his stint as president.
In an address organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in 2008 at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore, he said he was confident that poverty would be eradicated in India by 2020, literacy rates would be 100 per cent and more Indian companies would be found on the Fortune 500 list.