London: Leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has condoled the death of APJ Abdul Kalam, describing him as a "great President" and a world-renowned scientist who made immense contributions to India.
Expressing his condolences, Paul, Chairman of Caparo Group, the UK-based diversified conglomerate, said Kalam was one of the most popular Presidents of India and a great personal friend.
"APJ Abdul Kalam was a great President and a very distinguished world-renowned scientist who made an immense contribution to India. All of us Indians are very proud of the achievements for which he was responsible. In addition to being one of the most popular Presidents of India, he was also a very approachable man and a great personal friend. I met him just three months ago when I was in India in April and he was his usual warm and hospitable self," Paul said.
Paul recalled that he had presented Kalam with an honorary doctorate in his capacity as Chancellor of the University at Wolverhampton in 2007.
"It was an honour for me and for the university and everyone at the University of Wolverhampton sends their condolences," he said in a statement.
Paul also relived the time in 2004 when Kalam gave a reception in New Delhi to celebrate his son's marriage.
"He had graciously accepted our invitation to attend. However, when I saw him that morning he said that he wouldn't be able to join us because he was hosting a dinner in honour of the President of Burma, who was paying a state visit to India at the same time. I told him that I understood and that his acceptance alone was a great privilege. To which he replied: 'No Swraj Paul, that is not what I am saying. I want to give a reception to your family in honour of the newly-weds and all of you must come to Rashtrapati Bhavan'. We joined him there the next day and after the tea he took us out into the gardens for a group photograph. That picture is a treasured memento and occupies a very special place in our house," Paul said.
"May he live in the memory of the country forever," he said.
Kalam, 83, died yesterday after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest and collapsed during a lecture at the IIM Shillong.