Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam - The Missile Man
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam - The Missile Man
APJ - Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 in a Tamil Muslim family in the pilgrimage Centre of Rameswaram on Pamban Island. His father, Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque. His mother, Ashiamma was a housewife. Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and 1 sister. By his early childhood, Kalam's family had become poor. He sold newspapers to supplement his family's income.
In his school years, Kalam had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn. He spent hours on his studies, especially mathematics. After completing his education at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam 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 at Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, "I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline." He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) (by Press Information Bureau, Government of India) as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS). He started his career by designing a small hovercraft but remained unconvinced by his choice of a job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he was the project director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980; Kalam had first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Kalam received the government's approval and expanded the program to include more engineers.
From 1963 to 1964, he visited NASA's Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia; Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Wallops Flight Facility. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be successful.
Kalam was invited by Raja Ramanna to witness the country's first nuclear test, Smiling Buddha, as the representative of TBRL, even though he had not participated in its development. In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV program. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under Kalam's directorship. Kalam played an integral role in convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects. His research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in the 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile program under his directorship. Kalam and Dr. V S Arunachalam, metallurgist and scientific adviser to the Defence Minister, worked on the suggestion by the then Defence Minister, R. Venkataraman on a proposal for simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one after another. R. Venkataraman was instrumental in getting the cabinet approval for allocating ₹ 3.88 billion for the mission, named Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) and appointed Kalam as the chief executive. Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the mission including Agni, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, and Prithvi, the tactical surface-to-surface missile, although the projects have been criticized for mismanagement and cost and time overruns.
Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organization 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 Raja Gopala Chidambaram, during the testing phase. Media coverage of Kalam during this period made him the country's best-known nuclear scientist.
In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low-cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent." In 2012, the duo designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".
He was fond of long hair, so he wanted to keep them slightly longer, but also wanted the haircut to be tidy and very easy to maintain. The style is called 'reverse graduation'. He lived as an example of hard work, resilience, and a positive attitude, and people remember him as the most beloved president. He was known to be the “Missile Man” for his work on the development of science and technology. These values of A.P.J Abdul Kalam are so inspirational and motivational. He liked traveling and making friends. His favorite quote was-“We must accept finite Disappointments, but never lose infinite hope.”
Kalam served as the 11th President of India, succeeding K. R. Narayanan. He won the 2002 presidential election with an electoral vote of 922,884, surpassing the 107,366 votes won by Lakshmi Sahgal. His term lasted from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. During his term as president, he was affectionately known as the People's President.
On 27 July 2015, Kalam traveled 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. Around 6:35 p.m., 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 deceased of a sudden cardiac arrest at 7:45 p.m.