APJ Abdul Kalam was an Indian scientist, statesman, and author who made significant contributions to the development of India’s missile and space technology. He served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007 and was widely respected and admired for his humility, dedication to public service, and inspirational leadership.
Early Life and Education:
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on October 15, 1931, in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, to a Tamil Muslim family. He was the youngest of five siblings and grew up in a modest household. Kalam’s father was a boat owner who ferried Hindu pilgrims across the Pamban channel to the temple town of Rameswaram.
Kalam studied at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School in Ramanathapuram and went on to study physics at St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. He graduated in 1954 and went on to study aerospace engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1960, he completed his degree and joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist.
Kalam began his career at DRDO working on hovercraft technology and also made significant contributions to India’s missile and rocket programs. He played a crucial role in the development of India’s first indigenous satellite launch vehicle, the SLV-III, which successfully launched the Rohini satellite into space in 1983. This achievement made India the sixth nation in the world to have a satellite in orbit.
Kalam’s contributions to the development of India’s missile technology earned him the nickname “Missile Man of India.” He served as the Chief Executive of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), which developed a series of successful missile systems such as the Agni, Prithvi, and Akash missiles.
In 1992, Kalam was appointed as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister of India, a position he held until 1999. In this role, he played a key role in the nuclear tests conducted by India in 1998, which established India as a nuclear power. Kalam was a strong advocate of using technology for the betterment of society, and during his tenure as the Chief Scientific Adviser, he emphasized the need for India to become a self-reliant and technologically advanced nation.
In 2002, Kalam was nominated as a presidential candidate by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of political parties led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He won the presidential election with an overwhelming majority, becoming the first scientist to hold the position of President of India. During his term as President, Kalam focused on promoting education and technology, particularly in rural areas of the country.
Kalam was widely respected and admired for his humility, simplicity, and dedication to public service. He was known for his motivational speeches and was a popular speaker and writer. He wrote several books, including Wings of Fire, an autobiography, and Ignited Minds, a book on the importance of education and innovation in the development of India.
Awards and Honors:
APJ Abdul Kalam received numerous awards and honors throughout his life in recognition of his contributions to science and public service. Some of the notable awards and honors he received are:
1. Padma Bhushan: In 1981, Kalam was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, for his work in the field of science and engineering.
2. Padma Vibhushan: In 1990, he received the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, for his contributions to the development of India’s missile technology.
3. Bharat Ratna: In 1997, Kalam was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, for his contributions to science and engineering.
4. Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration: In 1997, Kalam was honored with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to promoting national integration in India.
5. King Charles II Medal: In 2007, Kalam was awarded the King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, for his contributions to science and engineering.
6. Hoover Medal: In 2008, Kalam was awarded the Hoover Medal, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to humanity through their professional, personal, and humanitarian endeavors.
7. International von Karman Wings Award: In 2009, Kalam was honored with the International von Karman Wings Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of aerospace technology.
8. Doctor of Science: Kalam received honorary doctorates from many universities in India and abroad, including the University of Wolverhampton, the University of Waterloo, and the University of Edinburgh.
9. Honorary Fellow: Kalam was an honorary fellow of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
10. Honorary Member: Kalam was an honorary member of the IEEE, the World Academy of Art and Science, and the National Academy of Medical Sciences.
These are just some of the many awards and honors that APJ Abdul Kalam received in recognition of his remarkable contributions to science and public service.
Kalam was also known for his inspirational and motivational quotes. Here are some of his most famous quotes:
“Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.”
“Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action.”
“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”
“If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.”
“All birds find shelter during a rain. But eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds.”
“We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.”
“Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.”
“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”
“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.”
“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.”
APJ Abdul Kalam passed away on July 27, 2015, while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. He was widely mourned in India and around the world, and his contributions to science, education, and public service continue to inspire people today.