Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was born in Tamil Muslim family to Jainulabdeen Marakayar and Ashiamma in the fishing village of Dhanushkodi on the island of Rameswaram in the Palk Strait off the coast of then Madras Presidency and today’s State of Tamil Nadu. He did his schooling in Tiruchirappalli spending hours on mathematics. In 1954, he graduated in physics from University of Madras. He completed his aerospace engineering from Madras institute of Technology and just missed becoming a fighter pilot in IAF just by one spot.
Kalam, as a scientist joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS). Later, he joined the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) as the project director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). In 1963 to 1964, he visited NASA. Later from the 1970s to 1990s, he was successful in developing the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects. The Rohini satellite was injected into near earth orbit in July 1980 by SLV III and made India an exclusive Space Club member.
After serving for over two decades in ISRO, Dr. Kalam was chosen as the CEO of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He was in charge for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI missiles. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is known as the Missile Man of India as his contribution to nuclear science is very significant. From July 1992 to December 1999, he worked as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organization. During this period, he played a vital political and technological role as the Chief Project Coordinator in the Pokhran-II nuclear tests. This made India a Nuclear weapon state. To make healthcare accessible to all, he assisted a cardiologist in designing a cost-effective coronary stent known as 'Kalam-Raju-Stent'. He was the motivating force which helped the development of lightweight calipers for motor disability patients.
In 2002, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam succeeded K.R.Narayanan as president of India. Both the then ruling party, BJP and then opposition INC supported Kalam for his presidential elections. He was the first scientist to become the president of India and the first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhawan. Dr Kalam was fondly called the People’s President during his tenure, for the reason that his vision, integrity, humility and his enormous participation to motivate and nurture the youths of the nation. His guidelines under the Indian Government scheme of “Vision of 2020” to make India a developed country by 2020 has been incorporated. Pratibha Patil became his successor as the 12th president of India after his tenure of 5 years as president. He did not contest the presidential election for the second term.
He was honored with a Bharat Ratna in 1997, India's highest civilian honor. He was intensely associated with India's Light Combat Aircraft project. He is the first Indian Head of State to fly a fighter plane. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's contribution to the country both in the field of science and politics has been tremendous. His vision has given a new course and plunge to several breakthrough technologies.
He often spoke to children and the country's young minds. He inspired the youth to study science, be leaders and think big in life. He has written many books to motivate the young Indians. India 2020, Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji are few of his famous books. Below are a few of his motivating quotes.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam remained bachelor all his life and had no kids. He dedicated all his life to science and nurturing youths of India. After leaving office in June 2007, Dr Kalam became a visiting professor at many reputed educational institutes. He taught at the Indian Institute of Management Indore, the Indian Institute of Management Shillong and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. He served as professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University; an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram and an adjunct at many other academic and research institutions across India. At the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad; Banaras Hindu University and Anna University he taught information technology. He was an enthusiastic educator who inspired millions of minds to accomplish their dreams in life. He taught the youngsters to dream big for them and for the nation. In May 2012, Kalam launched a programme themed defeating corruption for the young Indians called What Can I Give Movement.
He was not just a global leader but also a great personality and a gentleman. His role in the India Space Programme can never be forgotten by Indians. His quotes are visionary, which awakens the inner spirit of youths of the nation. Share his wisdom in the form of quotes with your near and dear ones. Your family, friends, colleagues and well wishers might be in need of some motivation, keep spreading his positive and inspirational words.