APJ Abdul Kalam birth anniversary is celebrated on 15th October. Abdul Kalam, the former president of India is the most lovable president and scientist in India. He is also known as the “Missile Man” of India.
Abdul Kalam has served India as a scientist and as a president. During both the period he was very close to the people of India. He is known as the symbol of simplicity. Dr Kalam won over the hearts of the billion Indians with his simple living and inspirational thinking. He has been an inspiration for youth of India.
Abdul kalam Biography
Early Life and Education
Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram. This place is in the state of Tamil Nadu. Kalam’s full name was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque; his mother Ashiamma was a housewife. Abdul Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and one sister in his family. In his early age, he sold newspapers to supplement his family’s income, since his family was poor.
Abdul Kalam was good in studies. In his school years, Kalam had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn. His favorite subject was mathematics. He completed his primary education from the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram. After that he went on to attend Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. His dream was to become a fighter pilot, but he missed to achieve because he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
Career as a Scientist
Abdul Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS). In the starting of his career he used to design a small hovercraft. But he was unhappy with the choice of a job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, who was known as a space scientist.
In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). In 1969, Kalam received the government’s approval and expanded the programme to include more engineers. Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999.
The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which he played an intensive political and technological role. Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator, along with Rajagopala Chidambaram, during the testing phase. Media coverage of Kalam during this period made him the country’s best known nuclear scientist. After that he was given a name “Missile Man”.
Kalam served as the 11th President of India. He won the 2002 presidential election with an electoral vote of 922,884. His term lasted from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. When Kalam was nominated for the post of president, he said of the announcement of his candidature:
I am really overwhelmed. Everywhere both in Internet and in other media, I have been asked for a message. I was thinking what message I can give to the people of the country at this juncture.
Kalam was the third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, before becoming the President. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr Zakir Hussain (1963) were the earlier recipients of Bharat Ratna who later became the President of India. He was also the first scientist and the first bachelor to become the President of India.
During his term as president, he was affectionately known as the People’s President. At the end of his term, on 20 June 2007, Kalam expressed his willingness to not to contest the Presidential election again stating that he wanted to avoid involving Rashtrapati Bhavan from any political processes. He did not have the support of the left parties, Shiv Sena and UPA constituents, to receive a renewed mandate.
After leaving office, Kalam became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and the Indian Institute of Management Indore; an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram; professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University; and an adjunct at many other academic and research institutions across India. He taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.
Death of the “Missile Man”
On 27 July 2015, Kalam travelled to Shillong to deliver a lecture on “Creating a Livable Planet Earth” at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. While climbing a flight of stairs, he experienced some discomfort, but was able to enter the auditorium after a brief rest. At around 6:35 p.m. IST, only five minutes into his lecture, he collapsed. He was rushed to the nearby Bethany Hospital in a critical condition; upon arrival, he lacked a pulse or any other signs of life. Despite being placed in the intensive care unit, Kalam was confirmed dead of a sudden cardiac arrest at 7:45 p.m IST.
Following his death, Kalam’s body was airlifted in an Indian Air Force helicopter from Shillong to Guwahati, from where it was flown to New Delhi on the morning of 28 July in an air force C-130J Hercules. The flight landed at Palam Air Base that afternoon and was received by the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, and the three service chiefs of the Indian Armed Forces, who laid wreaths on Kalam’s body.
On 30 July 2015, the former president was laid to rest at Rameswaram’s Pei Karumbu Ground with full state honours. Over 350,000 people attended the last rites, including the Prime Minister, the governor of Tamil Nadu and the chief ministers of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.