By Tenzin Menkyi
His Holiness recieves former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam at the Gaggal Airport near Dharamsala, January 2, 2009 (Phayu/Photo: Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL)
DHARAMSHALA, July 28: The Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, currently on 5 day visit to Ladakh, has expressed sadness over the passing away of former Indian President Abdul Kalam, 83, of cardiac arrest on Monday in Shillong.
Calling Kalam “not only a great scientist, educationist and statesman, but also above all a real gentleman”, the Tibetan leader wrote on his official website, "I am very sad to learn of the sudden passing away of our former President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam yesterday evening. This is an irreparable loss,” wrote the Tibetan leader on his official website. "Over the years I had the opportunity to meet and interact with him on many occasions and always admired his down to earth simplicity and humility. I used to enjoy our discussions on a wide range of subjects of common interest, but mainly concerned with science, spirituality and education."
His Holiness has met India’s ‘missile man’ and ‘people’s president’ as Kalam was fondly called, on several occasions. Kalam visited Dalai Lama's home in exile at McLeod Ganj in 2009, when the Tibetan leader drove to the Gaggal airport to receive him, a courtesy extended by the Tibetan leader only to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Dr. Kalam had then said, "His [Holiness] spiritual values are very important for every nation."
Both leaders placed immense importance to the youth and participated in several programs of interaction with the youth. Even before his last breathe Kalam was speaking to the students of the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, Meghalaya.
Meanwhile, the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan parliament in exile also expressed their grief for the loss. “Dr. Kalam’s sudden demise is a loss to not just India but the entire world. Therefore, on this sad occasion, I, on behalf of the Central Tibetan Administration and the entire Tibetan people, extend my deepest sympathies and condolence to the whole nation of India,” said the Tibeta PM Lobsang Sangay.
Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan parliament, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, wrote in a letter to Kalam’s brother A PJ Maratayer, “On behalf of all the Tibetan people, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile express our deep sadness at the sudden demise of your beloved brother and former President of India.”