New Delhi: "A giant among men has passed away. He was a true Gandhian," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Nelson Mandela`s death on Friday.
He paid rich tributes to the former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela who died on Thursday night at the age of 95.
The Prime Minister in a statement said: "An unknown poet has said, `Here and there, and now and then, God makes a giant among men.` President Mandela was one such giant amongst men. Not only did he represent the conscience of the world, he also remained a beacon of hope for those struggling against oppression and injustice long after he had led his own people to victory over such ills."
"This is as much India`s loss as South Africa`s," the Prime Minister said.
"His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come. I join all those who are praying for his soul," he said.
The Prime Minister said Nelson Mandela endured "great personal hardship so that others could be provided with dignity, equality and opportunity".
"He fought discrimination and inhuman exclusion, but rose above bitter divisions to heal and reconcile a fractured nation," he said.
"His life and work made him a citizen of the world. India, in particular, had great affection and regard for him," he said.
In a statement on South African national TV, President Jacob Zuma had announced that Mandela had "departed" and was at peace. "Our nation has lost its greatest son."