Born: 15 October 1931, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
Death: 27 July 20 15, Shillong, Meghalaya
Post / Function: Former President of India
Achievements: As a scientist and engineer, he worked on several important projects of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Dr. A. P.J. Abdul Kalam was a noted Indian scientist and the 11th President of India. He served in some of the most important organizations in the country (DRDO and ISRO). He also played an important role in the 1998 Pokhran II 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’. In 2002, Kalam was elected President of India and after serving a 5-year term, he returned to teaching, writing, and public service. He was honored with several prestigious awards including Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor.
Avul Pakir Zainul Abidin Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu to a Muslim family. His father Zainulabidin was a sailor and his mother Ashiamma was a homemaker. His family’s financial condition was not good, so he had to work from a young age. Balam Kalam used to distribute newspaper after school to help his father financially. During his school days, Kalam was normal in studies but always ready and willing to learn something new.
He had a hunger for learning and he used to pay attention to studies for hours. He did his schooling from Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School and then attended St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli, from where he graduated in 1954 in physics. He then moved to Madras in the year 1955 from where he studied aerospace engineering. In the year 1960, Kalam completed his engineering studies from Madras Institute of Technology.
After completing his engineering studies from the Madras Institute of Technology, Kalam joined the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist. Kalam started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army. Kalam was not getting satisfaction from his work in DRDO. Kalam Pandit was also a member of the Indian National Committee for Space Research constituted by Jawaharlal Nehru. During this time he got an opportunity to work with the famous space scientist Vikram Sarabhai.
In 1969, he was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Here he was appointed as the director of India’s satellite launch vehicle project. As a result of the success of this project, India’s first satellite ‘Rohini’ was placed in the Earth’s orbit in the year 1980. Joining ISRO was the most important turning point of Kalam’s career and when he started work on the satellite launch vehicle project, he felt as if he was doing the same work as he thought.
During 1963–64, he also visited NASA, a US space organization. Atomic scientist Raja Ramanna, under whose supervision India conducted its first nuclear test, also invited Kalam to see the nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974.
In the seventies and eighties, Dr. Kalam became very famous in India with his works and successes and he was named among the greatest scientists of the country. His fame had grown so much that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allowed him to work on some secret projects without the approval of his cabinet.
The Government of India started the ambitious ‘Integrated Guided Missile Development Program’ under Dr. Kalam. He was the Chief Executive of this project. The project has given missiles like Agni and Prithvi to the country.
From July 1992 to December 1999, Dr. Kalam was the Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). India conducted its second nuclear test during this period. He played an important role in it. R. Dr. Kalam was the coordinator of the project along with Chidambaram. The media coverage found during this made him the country’s largest nuclear scientist.
In 1998, Dr. Kalam along with heart physician Soma Raju developed a low-cost coronary stent. It was named as ‘Kalam-Raju Stent’.
President of India
In view of his achievements and fame as a defense scientist, N. D. A. The coalition government made him the presidential candidate in the year 2002. He defeated his rival Lakshmi Sehgal by a huge margin and was sworn in as the 11th President of India on 25 July 2002. Dr. Kalam was the third President of the country who had been awarded the Bharat Ratna even before he became President. Earlier, Dr. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Zakir Hussain were awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’ before becoming President.
During his tenure, he was called the ‘President of the people’. At the end of his term, he also expressed his desire for a second term, but because of lack of opinion among political parties, he abandoned the idea.
At the end of the term of 12th President Pratibha Patil, his name was once again in the discussion as the next possible President but due to lack of consensus.