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Goodbye Dr Kalam

July 24, 2007

President A P J Abdul Kalam has been one of the most popular and unusual presidents India has seen.

He was sworn in as the 11th President in July 2002. He was the first scientist and first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan. He was the second apolitical figure to become President of India -- after Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan in 1962.

At his swearing in, among the scores of politicians, bureaucrats, leaders, and relatives present, were also 100 students, including the idealistic 17-year-old Snehal Thakkar from Anand, Gujarat, to whom Kalam had dedicated his book, Ignited Minds. Also invited was the gardener of Asiad Village's DDA sports complex, where every morning Kalam used to have his morning walk, talking to flowers, tending to plants and inspiring several morning walkers to take a keen interest in the flora around.

Left: Chief Justice of India B N Kirpal (left) swears in India's 11th President APJ Abdul Kalam on July 25, 2002 at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi

Right: Outgoing President, the late K R Narayanan, greets his successor during a ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi on July 24, 2002.

Photographs: Sondeep Shankar/Saab Press/Getty Images and Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier feature: President Kalam turns 75

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