Dr A.P.J ABDUL KALAM – THE MISSILE MAN OF INDIA
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a man who is known for his simplicity, humility and inspiring words. He is fondly named as “The Missile Man of India”. He always delivered very motivating speeches to the youth. He was a great scientist and was the 11th president of India but he always loved teaching. He was always interested in spending time with students and sharing knowledge with them. He is one of the most respected people of the country. He did tremendous contributions both as a scientist as well as a president. So let’s know more about this great man.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam (Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam ) was born on 15th October 1931 to Jainulabdeen and Ashiamma in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. His father was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque and his mother was a house wife. Kalam had 4 brothers and one sister who were elder to him. His ancestors were wealthy, they had numerous properties and large lands. Their family had the title “Mara Kalam iyakkivar”(wooden boat steerers). They got this title because of their business of trading groceries between mainland and Pamban and also to and from Sri Lanka. Their business went into loss with the opening of Pamban Bridge to the mainland in 1914. Apart from their ancestral home they lost the rest of their properties over a period of time. Kalam’s family had become poor in his early childhood itself. Kalam used to sell news papers after his school hours in order to support his family.
Kalam did his schooling at Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram. Though he had average grades in his school his teachers called him hardworking and bright student. He always showed a motivation to learn new things. He spent most of his time doing mathematics. After schooling, Kalam graduated in Physics in the year 1954 from Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. The following year Kalam left to Madras and took admission in Madras Institute of Technology(MIT) to study Aerospace Engineering. He dreamt of being a fighter pilot but he missed the chance because he stood ninth in the qualifying exam and IAF had only eight positions.
Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist after graduating from MIT in 1960. He designed a small aircraft in the beginning of his career, but he was not satisfied by his job at DRDO. In the year 1969, Kalam was moved to Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO). He was made the project director for India’s first satellite launch vehicle(SLV 111) at ISRO. Kalam led many projects at ISRO and was successful every time. Kalam directed two projects in the year 1970, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant. He developed various missiles under the mission Agni and Prithvi. He was also the brain behind the successful launch of Rohini-1into space using the SLV Rocket.
Kalam implemented the integrated Guided Missile Development Programme after returning to the DRDO as the director in 1982. In the year 1992 he became senior scientific advisor to India’s Prime minister and the secretary of DRDO. He worked as the scientific officer from 1992 to 1999 and it was during this time Pokhran II nuclear tests ( Operation Shakti) were conducted and kalam served as the chief project coordinator for these nuclear tests.
In the year 2002 Kalam succeeded K..R.Narayan and became the president of India. He was the 11th president of India. He was the first scientist and first bachelor who entered Rastrapathi Bhavan. He was appreciated as well as criticised as a president.
Besides the profiles he held, he also wrote a number of books that were motivating and inspiring. India 2020 was the most widely read and acknowldged book. Some of his books include “Wings of Fire (autobiography) “ Mission India”, “Inspiring Thoughts”, “ Ignited Minds” and “The Luminous Sparks”.
After serving as president till 2007, he started working as visiting professor and also as a chancellor in various premiere institutions and universities in India. He also worked as chancellor at Aerospace Engineering at Anna University (Chennai), JSS University (Mysore) and Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.
He launched a mission for the youth of the nation called “What Can I Give Movement” which was launched in the year 2011 aiming to defeat corruption in India.
Listed below are the awards and achievements of Dr Kalam:
- He received honorary doctorates from 40 universities.
- He was honored with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration by the government of India in the year 1997.
- In the year 1998 the government of India awarded him with Veer Savarkar award.
- Kalam was presented with Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna awards from the Government of India.
- He was honored by the Royal Society, UK in 2007 with the King Charles II medal
- Kalam was presented with the International von Karman Wings Award by the The California Institute of Technology, U.S.A and in the same year he was awarded with Hoover medal ASME Foundation, USA.
- In the year 2000, The Alwars Research Centre, Chennai, awarded Kalam with Ramanujan Award
- The United Nations recognised Kalams 79th birthday as World Student’s day.
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam never married throughout his life. He always used to face press whenever his missions failed in ISRO and took the whole responsibilty but he never took any credit when his mission were successful. He used to write his own thank you cards with personalized messages in his own handwriting. Though a muslim, he was well acquainted with Hindu traditions and read the Bhagavad Gita. He was very much interested in literature and wrote many poems in Tamil, his native language.
He passed away on 27th July, 2015 while giving lecture at Indian Institute of Management Shillong. Five minutes after giving the lecture, he collapsed and was immediately taken to Bethany Hospital. He was confirmed dead due to cardiac arrest.