Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam) was one of the world’s best aerospace scientist and engineer, an author, and professor and also the 11th President of India who served his excellence during 2002 to 2007. Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam did his education in physics and aerospace engineering and spent his next 4 decades as a scientist and science engineer in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He has the most prestigious of honours and accolades including India’s highest civilian honour of Bharat Ratna.
Born on 15th October 1931 at Dhanushkodi, Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was one of the most influential persons and was most often referred to as the ‘People’s president’. Developing a whole nation’s space technology and many nuclear projects in India, it is no wonder that he has the proud nickname the “Missile Man of India”. While lecturing at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam suddenly collapsed due to intense cardiac arrest on 27th July 2015. He is now and always a huge inspiration to many youngsters and children globally.
Childhood Days and Educational Life
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was from a Tamil Muslim family from the Pamban island of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen was an imam (leader of an Islamic mosque) and also a boat owner. Abdul’s mother was Ashiamma, a housewife. Abdul Kalam was the youngest child among the 5 siblings. He had an elder named Asim Zohra and 3 other elder brothers who are namely Kasim Mohammed, Mustafa Kalam, and Mohammed Muthu Meera Lebbai Maraikayar.
Ferrying the pilgrims of Hindu community back and forth from Pamban and Sri Lanka was the works of the boy’s ancestors and forerunners. Mara Kalam Iyakkivar which means ‘wooden boat stirrers’ was the family name of Abdul Kalam. But sadly, after the official construction and opening of the Pamban Bridge in 1914 into the mainlands, made their businesses failed and they lost all the profit. Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Abudl Kalam’s early years had turned poor and hence he had sold newspapers to make some money.
With some family income, Abdul Kalam took his education in a matriculation school from Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram. Though he was an average scorer, teachers used to mention him as a hardworking and diligent boy. He then graduated from the Saint Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli, which then became affiliated to University of Madras, in Physics in 1954. He later traveled to Madras, now Chennai, in the year 1955 for studying aerospace engineering from the MIT, Madras Institute of Technology, Chrompet.
Becoming a Scientist – Dr. Kalam Sir
Abdul Kalam’s lifetime achievements began when he joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958, as a scientist. During the 1960s, Kalam sir worked closely with the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR). He was under the guidance of Vikram Sarabhai, renowned space scientist. His career started when he designed a small hovercraft at the DRDO.
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam got inspired after visiting the space stations like Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt of Maryland, Wallops Flight Facility in 1963-64, and NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton of Virginia and started to invent his own expandable rocket shuttle project. In the year 1969, he personally received government approval to expand the program for adding several engineers to it. The research and educational ideations described by the scientist was extremely powerful and brought him great laurels.
Abdul Kalam was then appointed as the chief executive for the mission Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) under Ramaswamy Venkatraman, the 8th President of India. This project had worth ₹388 crores and after its success, Kalam did a great job in exploring and inventing new arenas actively inside the Agni mission.
The Pokhran-II which was a 5-nuclear bomb explosion series was conducted by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam from July 1992 to December 1999. The same year gave him the appointment as the Principal Scientific Adviser for Government of India. He was also noted for the works in handling technology and political concerns successfully. Abdul Kalam was the Chief Project Coordinator along with Rajagopala Chidambaram for the phases of testing. With the rise of media coverage, Abdul Kalam was seen as the country’s best even nuclear scientist.
Other than space and nuclear resources, Abdul Kalam is also noted for his works in medicine and healthcare. ‘Kalam-Raju Stent’ was a coronary stent discovered by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam with cardiologist Soma Raju in 1998 which is cost-effective to many. This supplied blood to the arteries during a coronary heart disease operation. The duo also worked critically for giving proper healthcare facilities to the rural communities and invented the rugged tab computer termed ‘Kalam-Raju Tablet’ in the year 2012.
Political Lifestyle of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Succeeding the presidency of Kocheril Raman Narayanan, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was the 11th Indian President from 25th July 2002 to 25th July 2007. It was an easy victory as people already had the forethought that Kalam sir would surely win the election. 922,884 was the total vote that Kalam sir won which even surpassed the vote count of 107,366 by Lakshmi Sahgal.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr. Zakir Hussain (1963) who late became the Presidents of India were the earliest recipients for getting India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna. Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was the next person for receiving it. Notably, Kalam sir was also the 1st bachelor and 1st scientist for occupying inside the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Office of the Profit Bill was the only toughest decision that Kalam sir felt hard during his presidency. He performed many notable political actions that were highly in account to his Indian people. For instance, during the PGI Chandigarh’s interactive session in September 2003, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam gave his full support to the Uniform Civil Code of India, having in mind the population of his country. Since he was purely working for the goodness of his nation and its people, the public nicknamed and called him as the ‘People’s President’.
On 20th June 2007 during the end of his presidential term, Abdul Kalam stated that he may choose to stand for the second time in the office if there were sure chances of winning. But 2 days later, he refused it by saying due to the absence of support from the left parties Shiv Sena and UPA constituents he decided not to involve with the Rashtrapati politics anymore. Even after the support of renowned people like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, and even the social media sites gave huge support to Abdul Kalam’s second time electoral. But still, the President left the position and simply thanked every citizen for his or her love and support to his presidency.