Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Biography
Bharat Ratna Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Ab dul Kalam, generally known as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was the 11th Presidentof India (2002-2007). He was elected against Lakshmi Sehgal in 2002 and had support from both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress, the two leading political parties of India. By profession, he was a scientist and an administrator in India. He worked with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as an aerospace engineer before becoming the President of India. His work on the development of launch vehicle and ballistic missile technology had earned him the name of the ‘Missile Man of India’. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests conducted in India in 1998 after the original nuclear test of 1974 saw him in a pivotal political, organisational and technical role.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore; the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; and the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. He was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the JSS University in Mysore and at the Anna University in Chennai, apart from being an adjunct and visiting faculty at other research and academic institutions in India. He was the honorary fellow of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram.
In his book ‘India 2020’, he recommended plans to make the nation a fully developed one by the year 2020. His interactions with the student community and his motivational speeches made him quite popular among the youth. In 2011, he launched a mission called ‘What Can I Give Movement’ aimed at the youth of India, which focused on defeating corruption in the country.
Detailed Personal Background
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born in a necessitous and little educated Tamil family on 15 October 1931, at Rameswaram district of Tamil Nadu, India. His father, Jainulabdeen, was a boat owner, and his mother, Ashiamma, was a homemaker. He started working at a young age to support his father. He received average grades in school but was seen as a hardworking and bright student with a strong desire to learn things. He used to study for hours, especially mathematics. He completed his schooling from Rameswaram Elementary School. In 1954, he graduated in Physics from St. Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli, which was then affiliated to the University of Madras. Thereafter, in 1955, he moved to Madras (now Chennai) and joined the Madras Institute of Technology and studied aerospace engineering. His dream was to become a fighter pilot but he was ranked ninth while the IAF offered only eight slots. He remained a bachelor.
Kalam rose from obscurity through his personal and professional struggles and his work on Agni, Prithvi, Akash, Trishul and Nag missiles became a household name in India and raised the nation’s prestige to international reckoning.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam passed away on 27 July 2015, due to a massive cardiac arrest during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.
Journey and Achievements as a Scientist
- After completing his graduation in 1960, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam joined as a scientist in Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Aeronautical Development Establishment.
- He also worked under the renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai as a part of the committee of INCOSPAR.
- From 1963 to 1964, he visited the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the Wallops Flight Facility located at the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Langley Research Center of NASA situated at Hampton, Virginia.
- At the very start of his career, he designed a small helicopter for the Indian army.
- He became the Project Director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) when he was transferred in 1969 to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In July 1980, his team was successful in deploying the Rohini satellite near the orbit of the Earth.
- Dr. Kalam and Dr. V.S. Arunachalam, on the proposal of the then Defense Minister R. Venkataraman, worked on developing a quiver of missiles instead of one at a time. Dr. Kalam was made the Chief Executive of the programme, which was named Integrated Guided Missile Development programme.
- He developed a low-cost Coronary Stent along with Dr. Soma Raju, a cardiologist, in 1998. It was named “Kalam-Raju Stent” after them. Both of them also designed a tablet PC called “Kalam-Raju Tablet” for healthcare in rural areas.
Dr. Kalam’s Tenure as President of India
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on 10 June 2002 proposed Dr. Kalam’s name for the Presidential post to the Leader of Opposition, Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
- Dr. Kalam served as the President of India from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007.
- Dr. Kalam succeeded K.R. Narayanan as the 11th President of India.
- He was the first bachelor and scientist to reside in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
- Dr. Kalam was affectionately called the People’s President.
Awards and Recognitions
The nation honoured Dr Kalam with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, in 1997 for his contribution in the field of scientific research, development and modernisation of technology in the defence sector of India.
- In 1981 he received the Padma Bhushan.
- The University of Wolverhampton in UK bestowed on him the Honorary Doctorate of Science in 2007.
- In 1990, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Indian Government for his work with the DRDO and ISRO and as scientific advisor to the Government.
- In 1997, the Indian National Congress conferred him with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
- He received the Hoover Medal from ASME Foundation, U.S.A, in 2009.
- In 2011, he became an honorary member of the IEEE.
- In 2012, the Simon Fraser University conferred on him the Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa).
In 2014, he received an honorary degree in Doctor of Science from Edinburgh University, UK.
Documentaries and Books by Dr. Kalam
- Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India
- Inspiring Thoughts
- Indomitable Spirit
- My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions
- Wings of Fire: An Autobiography, by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari.
- You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond, by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari.
- India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Y.S. Rajan.
- A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: The Visionary of India, by K. Bhushan and G. Katyal.
- President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, written by R.K. Pruthi.
- A Little Dream, a documentary film by P. Dhanapal, Minveli Media Works Private Limited.
- Eternal Quest: Life and Times of Dr. Kalam, written by S. Chandra.
- The Kalam Effect: My Years with the President, written by P.M. Nair.