People’s President, Renowned Scientist, Missile Man, Teacher, Visionary, Writer, an Inspiration and the list goes on. It’s indeed proud to say we lived during the times of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam. Breathing his last on July 27,2015, an article about his life is a small way to pay respects to the great man.
Born on October 15, 1931 to a fisherman couple in Ramanathapuram, Abdul Kalam completed his studies in Schwartz Matriculation School. During his schooling he had to work to support his family by distributing newspapers. Kalam joined Trichy’s St.Joseph College and got graduated in Physics in 1954. In fact he regretted doing the course during its completion. Having moved to Chennai(previously Madras) in 1955, Kalam joined Aerospace Engineering in MIT(Madras Institute of Technology), Chromepet.
Role of Scientist
Kalam joined DRDO(Defense Research and Development Organization) as a scientist in 1960 after graduating from MIT. Initially he started designing small helicopters for the Indian Army. In 1969 he got transferred to ISRO(Indian Space Research Organization) as project director and was instrumental in developing India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle(SLV-3) that successfully sent Rohini(RS-1) satellite to its orbit in 1980. Project Valiant(Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Technology), Project Devil(Surface – Air Missile Technology) were headed under his direction during the 70’s. Above projects led India to successfully develop AGNI – Intermediate Ballistic Missile, PRITHVI – surface to surface missile during 80’s under his leadership.
During the 90’s(1992-1999) he became the Chief Scientific Adviser and was instrumental in successfully conducting the Nuclear test in 1998(first since Pokhran Nuclear Test in 1974). The media coverage during the nuclear test gave rise to Kalam’s popularity all over India.
President & Afterwards
Nominated by BJP which was in power at the time and supported by other parties incl. Congress, Kalam contested in presidential elections in 2002 and won by huge margin gaining 9,22,884 votes. Kalam served as India’s President between 25 July 2002 – 25 July 2007. Kalam is the third person to receive Bharat Ratna(in 1997) before serving as President(Dr.Radhakrishnan and Dr.Zakir Hussain were the other two). He is the first bachelor and first scientist to assume the post of President.
After completing his tenure as President, he became a visiting professor for various educational institutes which included Indian Institute of Management(Ahmadabad, Shillong, Indore), Anna University, Benares University.
Being an avid writer Kalam has written 17 books that dealt in Science, Technology, Nation building, Spirituality, Education to name a few. The Wings Of Fire(1999), Ignited Minds(2002), India 2020(1998) are his most popular works.
Some of Kalam’s famous quotes :
“Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.”
“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”
“Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.”
“We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.”
“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. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.”
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”
“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.”