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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam ( October 15, 1931-July 27, 2015 ) was an Indian aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent about 40 years as a scientist and science administrator mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organization ( DRDO ) and Indian Space Research Organization ( ISRO ) and was intimately involved in the Indian civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. He is known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played pivotal organizational, technical, and political roles in India’s Pokharan second nuclear test in 1998, the first original nuclear test by India in 1974. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards like Bharat Ratna.

Dr. Abdul Kalam was born on October 15, 1931 in Remeswaram, Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu to a Muslim family. His father Zainul Abideen was a sailor and his mother Ashima was a homemaker. He had three elder brothers and one elder sister. His father was not very educated and economically weak so his family had to face many problems. Due to this reason, Abdul Kalam started distributing newspapers from house to house as use to pay his school fees with those money. He got only poverty in inheritance. During school days, Kalam was normal in studies, but was always ready and willing to learn new things. He had a hunger for learning and he would concentrate on his studies for hours.

He did his schooling from Schwartz Higher Secondary School and then attended St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli, from where he graduated in 1954 in Physics. He moved to Madras in 1955 from where he studied Aerospace Engineering. In 1960, Kalam completed his Engineering studies from Madras Institute of Technology. After completing studies, Kalam had only one dream to become a fighter Pilot and he went to Dehradun for an Air Force interview. He was on 9th place out of 25 candidates interviewed, while the need was for 8 candidates. Kalam then moved to Delhi and joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the DRDO as a scientist and initially he contributed to the small helicopter design. Being a part of the Indian National Committee for Space Research, he got an opportunity to work with great scientists of India like Vikram Sarabhai. In 1969 he was sent to ISRO where he served as Project Director.

In 1980, the Government of India thought of starting a modern missile program with Abdul Kalam's direction, so he was again sent to DRDO. Thereafter Integrated Guided Missile Development Program ( IGMDP ) was launched with Kalam as the Chief Executive. On the instructions of Abdul Kalam, it was successful in building a missile like Agni Missile and Prithvi Missile. As a scientist and engineer, he worked on several important projects for the Defence Research and Development Organization ( DRDO ) and the Indian Space Research Organization ( ISRO ). He also played a key role in 1998 Pokhran second nuclear test. Dr. Kalam was also involved with India’s space program and missile development program. For this reason, he is also called “ Missile Man “.

He was honoured with several prestigious awards like Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Indra Gandhi Award for National Integration, Veer Sawakar Award, Ramanujan Award, Honorary Fellow, and Distinguished fellow.

Honorary Professor- Beijing University of China.

Doctor of Science- Edinburgh University UK.

Doctor of Laws- Simon Fraser University.

Doctor of Engineering- University of Waterloo.

Honorary Doctorate- Oakland University.

Doctor of Science- University Sains Malaysia.

Doctor of Engineering- Nanyang Technical University Singhapur.

Doctor of Science- Aligarh Muslim University.

Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology- Carnegie Mellon.

Honorary Doctor of Science- University of Wolverhampton UK.

On July 18, 2002, Dr. Abdul Kalam took the Presidency. Dr. Kalam has been never associated with politics, yet he remained the supreme President of India.

Dr. Abdul Kalam died on July 27, 2015 in Shillong, Meghalaya. Here he went to give a college lecture. Famous Scientist Abdul Kalam was lecturing at IIM Shillong when he suffered a heart attack, he was rushed to the hospital, but the team of doctors could not save him. After his death on July 28, 2015 he was brought to Delhi then taken to his village. He was cremated on July 30, near his ancestral village Rameswaram.

He was extremely close to his elder siblings and their extended families throughout his life, and would regularly send small sums of money to his elder relations, himself remaining a lifelong bachelor. Dr. Kalam was noted for his integrity and his simple lifestyle, he never owned a television, and was in the habit of rising at 6.30-7.00 AM. His few personal possessions include his books, his vernacular, and some articles of clothing. He left no will, and his possessions went to his elder brother.

Great dreams of great dreamers are always fulfilled.

Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.

You have to dream before the dreams come true.

You have to dream before your dreams can come true.

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