A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Little did Jainulabdeen and Ashiamma know that their son would grow up to be the first citizen of India. An Indian scientist and administrator, Kalam served as the 11th President of India from 2002 until 2007. One amongst the most respected people of the country, Kalam contributed immensely both as a scientist and as a president. His contribution at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was immense. He was responsible for numerous projects such as Project Devil and Project Valiant and launch of the Rohini-1, besides developing missiles under the missions Agni and Prithvi. For the same, he was popularly tagged as the “Missile Man of India”. Kalam was honored with great laurels and awards for his work by both the Government of India and other countries. After completing his term as President, Kalam served as a visiting professor in various esteemed institutes and universities of India.

Childhood & Early Life
  • A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born to Jainulabdeen and Ashiamma on October 15, 1931. He came from a family whose financial conditions weren’t sound enough. As a means to support his family’s meagre income, Kalam took up odd jobs in his childhood but never gave up on his education.  
    Career
    • After graduating from MIT, Kalam took up the position of chief scientist at the Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). However, the profile didn’t appeal Kalam much who shifted to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle.
    • His years at the ISRO were the most crucial ones, as they left a lasting impact on him. Kalam lead many projects and turned out to be successful each time.
    • In the 1970s, Kalam directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme.
    • A milestone was achieved when locally built Rohini-1 was launched into space, using the SLV rocket. Upon watching the raving success of Kalam, the government agreed for initiation of an advanced missile program under his directorship. He played a pivotal role in developing missiles under the missions Agni and Prithvi. 
    • Kalam was the Chief Executive of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (I.G.M.D.P) which researched in simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one by one.
    • From 1992 until 1999, Kalam was appointed as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of Defence Research and Development Organisation. It was during this time that Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator for Pokhran II nuclear tests, after which he was fondly called the “Missile Man of India”. 
    • Kalam succeeded K. R. Narayan to serve as the 11th President of India from 2002 until 2007. It was a highly one-sided contest. With his appointment, Kalam became the first scientist and first ever bachelor to occupy the Rastrapati Bhawan. 
    • During his tenure as a President, Kalam was both appreciated and criticised. The latter was mostly due to his inaction in deciding the fate of 20 mercy petitioners. 
    • In addition to all the profiles that Dr Kalam held, he authored numerous influential and inspirational books. Amongst all his books, “India 2020” was the widely read and appreciated one. It forecast an action plan which advocated India turning into a knowledge superpower and as one of the developed nations of the world by the year 2020. His other books include, “Ignited Minds”, “Mission India”, “Inspiring Thoughts” and “The Luminous Sparks”. 
    • In 2011, he launched his mission for the youth of the nation called the “What Can I Give Movement” with the main aim to defeat corruption in India.
    • After completing his term as President, Dr Kalam served as visiting professor in various esteemed institutes and universities of India, such as Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and Indore. He also served as Chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram, Aerospace Engineering at Anna University (Chennai), JSS University (Mysore).
  • He graduated from Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli in 1954 but not satisfied with his degree, he left for Madras later next year to study aerospace engineering. He enrolled at the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT).
    Awards & Achievements
    • Kalam was the proud recipient of Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna awards from the Government of India. He received the same in the years 1981, 1990 and 1997, respectively.
    • In 1997, he was honored by the Government of India with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. 
    • Later, the next year, he was awarded the Veer Savarkar Award by the Government of India.
    • The Alwars Research Centre, Chennai, bestowed Kalam with Ramanujan Award in the year 2000.
    • Kalam was honored with the King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society, U.K in 2007.
    • The California Institute of Technology, U.S.A, presented Kalam with the International von Karman Wings Award in the year 2009. The same year, he won the Hoover Medal by ASME Foundation, USA.
    • The IEEE honored Kalam with IEEE Honorary Membership in 2011.
    • Kalam was the proud recipient of honorary doctorates from 40 universities.
    • In addition to this, Kalam’s 79th birthday was recognised as World Students’ Day by United Nations. 
    • He was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and in 2006.
      Personal Life
      • Dr A.P.J. Kalam remained unmarried throughout his life.
      • Dr Abdul Kalam passed away at Bethany Hospital, Shillong, Meghalaya, due to heart failure after having collapsed during a lecture at Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.
        10 quotes by the scientist, author and former President:
      1. You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
      2. Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.
      3. Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person.
      4. Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.
      5. We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage.
      6. Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.
      7. Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.
      8. Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.
      9. If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.
      10. My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.14 5 3 2