Former President APJ Abdul Kalam died on Monday at a hospital in Meghalaya, where he had gone to deliver a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, reports Press Trust of India. He was 83. Dr Kalam reportedly collapsed on stage at the IIM and was rushed to the Bethany hospital. Doctors say he suffered from a massive cardiac arrest. Dr Kalam -- the 11th President on India between 2002 and 2007 -- was born in Rameswaram on October 15, 1931, to the family of a boatman.
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. After his term, he returned to a life of education, writing, and public service. He received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor.