Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of former President APJ Abdul Kalam and said he has lost a “marg darshak” who took India to new heights in the field of science and technology. “He was a great scientist who contributed immensely in the filed of science and technology as well as space. I have lost a marg darshark. “He was a source of inspiration for the whole country, particularly the youth. Even in his last days, he remained connected,” Modi said.
Kalam served as president for five years from 2002, enjoying the support of both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.
Kalam was closely involved in the country’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts, earning him the sobriquet ‘India’s Missile Man’. He worked as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) before he became president.
He also played a pivotal technical and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, shortly after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government came to power.
A M Naik, chairman, L&T, said: “Dr Abdul Kalam, India’s ‘Missile Man’ was a scientist and technocrat who endeared himself to all, and was ranked among India’s best loved presidents. We at L&T are proud to have been closely associated with him in developing India’s space and nuclear programs. On a personal note, I was very honoured that Dr Kalam came to Mumbai a couple of months ago and handed me a unique memento on my completing 50 years in L&T. His inspiring address on the occasion will be remembered by every L&T employee. The nation will remember Dr Kalam as one of India’s finest Presidents.”
N R Narayana Murthy, Infosys co-founder, said: “President Kalam was a true patriot and a statesman. As President he connected with and inspired so many people, particularly youngsters across the country. At a personal level, he was a very simple, kind, and genuine man – a great role model for our country. I had known him for nearly two decades and I join the country in mourning this loss.”
Dr Y S Rajan, a friend of Kalam for 50 years, who have jointly written three books, said: “It was “typical of Kalam” that he worked till his last day.”
In 1998, Kalam and Rajan wrote a blockbuster India 2020: A vision for the new millennium, a book that talked of a developed India by 2020. His wish, Rajan said, will not be fulfilled due to various factors, including the neglect of manufacturing and obsession of India in services.
Rajan, who is younger to Kalam by over 12 years, met Kalam when he was a science research fellow at the Vikram Sarabhai Research Centre in Ahmedabad. Both worked at Isro.
In October 2014, both friends wrote the book – Beyond 2020 – A vision for tomorrow’s India, which identifies with data the mistakes of the past and steps that India should take the country forward in the next two decades.