Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was an Indian scientist, aerospace engineer, author, and 11th president of India. Sir Kalam was also known as the missile man of India.
APJ Abdul Kalam Early Life
He was born on 15th October 1931 in a Tamil Muslim family of Tamil Nadu. His father was a boat owner, and his mother a homemaker. He had one sister and four brothers, and he was the youngest among all. His family struggled financially during his youth, so he began selling newspapers at a young age to help support his family.
APJ Abdul Kalam - Educational Background
Kalam earned average grades, according to his teachers, but he was a hardworking, bright student who was also a good learner. Schwartz Higher Secondary School was Abdul Kalam's alma mater. Later, he graduated from Saint Joseph's College with a bachelor's degree in physics.
Kalam graduated from Madras Institute of Technology with a degree in aeronautical engineering and entered the Defence Research and Development Organisation in 1958 (DRDO).
APJ Abdul Kalam & Work Life
He joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969 as project director of the SLV-III, the first satellite launch vehicle developed and manufactured in India. Kalam re-joined the DRDO in 1982 and organised the program.
From 1992 to 1997, Kalam was the defence minister's scientific advisor, and from 1999 to 2001, he was the government's principal scientific adviser with the rank of a cabinet minister. Although the tests raised international concern, Kalam's prominent role in the country's 1998 nuclear weapons tests cemented India's status as nuclear power and established him as a national hero. In 1998, Kalam proposed Technology Vision 2020, a countrywide plan that he presented as a road map for transforming India from a developing to a developed society in 20 years. Among other things, the strategy called for rising agricultural production and emphasising technology as a tool.
He was dissatisfied with his job at the DRDO and was overjoyed when he obtained transfer orders to the ISRO in 1969. In July 1980, he was the project director for the SLV-III, which successfully launched the Rohini satellite into near-Earth orbit. It is India's first satellite launch vehicle, planned and manufactured in-house.
In 1969, he received the government's approval to expand the programme to include more members as engineers. He developed the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in the 1970s to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite into Sun-Synchronous orbit. The PSLV project was successful, and it was launched for the first time on 20th September 1993.
Even though he had not participated in its production, Raja Ramanna invited Abdul Kalam to witness the country's first nuclear test, Smiling Buddha, as a representative of TBRL.
Abdul Kalam was the director of two ventures in the 1970s: Project Devil and Project Valiant. Are you aware of Project Devil? It was the first liquid-fueled missile project to develop a short-range surface-to-air missile. The Prithvi missile was developed due to this project, which was unsuccessful and ended in the 1980s. Project Valiant, on the other hand, planned to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile. It, too, was a failure. In the early 1980s, the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) was initiated by the Indian Ministry of Defence controlled by DRDO in collaboration with other government organisations. Abdul Kalam was asked to lead the project, and he returned to the DRDO in 1983 as the Chief Executive of the IGMDP. Short-range surface-to-surface missile (Prithvi), Short-range low-level surface-to-air missile (Trishul), Medium-range surface-to-air missile (Akash), and Third-generation anti-tank missile (Akash) were developed as part of the program (Nag).
Abdul Kalam was a crucial figure in the Pokhran-II nuclear bomb test blasts, which took place in May 1998. With the success of these tests, he was dubbed a national hero, and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee proclaimed India to be a full-fledged nuclear power.
APJ Abdul Kalam & 11th Presidency of India
Dr Kalam has done so much for our country. Then came the year 2002 when the country's ruling alliance NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (NDA) were willing to put forward Dr Kalam to win over and succeed the outgoing President Kochirel Raman Narayanan. Despite being a Muslim, he was nominated by the Hindu nationalist NDA & was popular among people and known for his humbleness. Besides, he won the elections easily and was sworn in as India's 11th president, to mark as the first bachelor and a scientist to occupy Rashtrapati Bhawan. He was chastised for failing to decide on the fate of 20 out of 21 mercy petitions, including that of Kashmiri terrorist Afzal Guru, who was convicted of the December 2001 parliament attacks. He decided not to participate in the elections and left the office at the end of his term in 2007, and Pratibha Patil succeeded him and became the first female President of India.
APJ Abdul Kalam Life After Presidency
How was Dr Kalam's life during post-presidency? He chose the academic field after leaving the office, becoming a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, IIM-Ahmedabad, and IIM-Indore, as well as an honorary fellow of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
He was also the chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University, and an adjunct professor at several other Indian academic and research institutions.
In 2011, civil society organisations chastised him for his stance on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, accusing him of not consulting the local community.
Dr Abdul Kalam launched the 'What Can I Give Movement' for India's youth, with the core theme of fighting corruption.
APJ Abdul Kalam Books
If you are willing to look at his life and ideologies, you should try reading his books.
During his lifetime, he has written 25 books such as -
- India 2020: A vision for the new millennium. ( 1998)
- Wings of Fire: An autobiography. (1999)
- Ignited mind: Unleashing the power with India. (2002)
- The luminous spark: A biography in verse and colours. (2004)
- Mission of India: A Vision of Indian Youth. (2005)
APJ Abdul Kalam Cardiac Attack – The Black Day
On the miserable day of 27th July 2015, Dr Kalam was delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong, he suffered a heart attack, and his condition was critical. So, he was rushed to the Bethany hospital. His last words were to Dr Srijan Pal Singh, who said, 'funny guy! Are you doing well"? The whole country was in a state of shock and was praying for his life.
The former President was laid to rest with state honours at Rameshwaram's Pei Karumbu Ground on 30th July 2015. Do you know that about 350,000 people, including the Prime Minister of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, and the Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh, attended Kalam's final ritual?
At Pei Karumbu, in the island town of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India, a memorial was constructed in honour of late President Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam. It was inaugurated by India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on 27th July 2017.Final Words
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was not an ordinary man; he was extraordinary and had a vision for his country. He served his nation as his utmost duty. And the citizens of India will never forget his ideologies and contributions to his nation. He was a man with no haters. He was loved and remembered by all.