Shillong, (IANS) A sense of shock and disbelief pervades among the students and staff of the Indian Institute of Management here who were witness to former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s final moments when he collapsed while delivering a lecture.
The disbelief – that the “Missile Man” they looked up to is no more – is compounded by the fact that the former president was brimming with enthusiasm and energy till the time he passed out.
There was not the slightest of hint of what was in store when Kalam, who was president in 2002-07, began his lecture on ‘Creating a Liveable Planet’ to the second year students of IIM-Shillong.
About 15 minutes into his speech, while sharing his experiences, he suddenly fainted and fell down around 6.30 p.m. The medical officer of IIM in the Meghalaya capital tried to revive him but failed.
Kalam was then rushed to the Bethany hospital where a team of doctors from the military hospital and North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Health and Medical Sciences tried to revive him.
He was declared dead due to a massive cardiac arrest by a team of doctors at 7.45 p.m.
“The IIM-Shillong community is still in a state of shock and sorrow that our former president is no more. I have still not come to terms with the passing away of Kalam,” IIM-Shillong director Amitabha De said.
Students who saw the last few minutes of the former president said he entered the IIM-Shillong auditorium full of energy.
“It was a tragic moment for the entire IIM-Shillong fraternity when the unexpected happened,” Bhawana Saraf, a student, told IANS.
Kalam began his lecture by sharing his recent experiences at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose students jointly organised a lecture that he delivered.
“When he was about to dwell further, Kalam collapsed,” Saraf said.
“There was no sign that our former president was frail. He was full of energy and enthusiasm. We could sense his eagerness to interact with us,” said another student, Kailash Chandrashekar, who was in the first row in the auditorium.
Some of the students of the B-school were supposed to make a presentation on conservation of water resources on earth.
“Though Kalam is no more, his strong will and grit will be an inspiration for the student community,” said IIM-Shillong student Raghav Bhatnagar.
Krishna Ashok said he was looking forward to the opportunity to speak in Kalam’s presence when “the unexpected happened”.
Sanjeev Kakoty, a teacher, said the students and staff on Tuesday pledged to be the ambassadors of Kalam’s ideals.
The IIM named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was started in 2008 and functions from a makeshift campus at the Mayurbhanj complex, the summer palace of the erstwhile kings of Mayurbhanj in Odisha.
The Meghalaya government has allotted a 120-acre plot, on which construction work is on for a state-of-the-art academic-cum-residential campus.