New Delhi: The union cabinet on Tuesday expressed sorrow at the death of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and in a resolution passed at a special cabinet meeting said “in his passing away the country has lost a visionary scientist, a true nationalist and a great son”.
The cabinet met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and extended its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family on behalf of the government and the entire nation.
“Kalam made significant contribution in developing India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle and made India an exclusive member of Space Club. Popularly known as the ‘Missile Man of India’, Kalam was responsible for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles. He gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by introducing Light Combat Aircraft,” the resolution said.
It said that he was the scientific adviser to defence minister and secretary, department of defence research and development during 1992-99.
“During this period, strategic missile systems were developed and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted. Kalam had served as the principal scientific advisor to the government, from 1999 to 2001 and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications and piloted India Millennium Mission 2020,” it added.
The former president died in Shillong on Monday evening after collapsing during a lecture at the IIM-Shillong.
He was born on October 15, 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, and specialized in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.
In his literary pursuit, his books – “Wings of Fire”, “India 2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium”, “My journey” and “Ignited Minds – Unleashing the power within India” became household names in India and abroad, the resolution said.
It added that Kalam was passionate about transforming society through technology, in particular by inspiring the youth of India to harness science and technology for human welfare.
Kalam was the recipient of many national and international awards including honorary doctorates from 48 universities from India and abroad. He received the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, in 1997.
“Eventually, from a very humble beginning, he rose to the highest office of the country and served as the 11th president of India from 2002 to 2007. During his tenure, he was affectionately known as the People’s President,” it said.