APJ Abdul Kalam- the Missile Man of India has contributed immensely to science. His achievements in the field of Aerospace are well recognised across the world. His contribution is so immense that it is well beyond all the material recognition bestowed upon him by the world.
He served as the President of the Republic of India from 2002 to 2007. Kalam was one of the most loved Presidents India has ever had. He has directly impacted thousands of lives and indirectly touched millions of mores. Inspiration for the entire human civilisation in general and generations of Indians in particular.
Who Was APJ Abdul Kalam?
A student of the Madras Institute of Technology, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was an aerospace scientist who joined India’s defence department soon after his graduation. Amongst the various hats he donned during his tenure, he became a central figure in the development of India’s nuclear capabilities and was crowned as a national hero in 1998 immediately after a series of successful tests.
He also served as the President for one full term from 2002 to 2007. On July 27, 2015, he died of a heart attack while lecturing at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.
On 15th October 1931, Abdul Kalam was born into a very poor Tamil Muslim family on a small island called Dhanuskodi near Rameshwaram. His full name was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.
The ace aerospace was fascinated by the flight of the birds. His fascination was triggered further when he came across an article about a British fighter plane in a newspaper
His father used to make and rent out boats. Despite such a humble beginning, he was very promising in science and mathematics. He attended St. Joseph’s College and further went on to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology.
Career and Contribution to the Defence
APJ hoped of becoming a fighter pilot for the Indian Air Force. However, he very narrowly missed out from getting selected. He instead joined the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a senior scientific assistant in 1958.
In the year 1969, after the formation of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he joined the organisation and then took charge as the project director of the SLV-III, which was the first satellite launch vehicle designed and produced indigenously in India.
Kalam returned to the DRDO in 1982. As the Director he took up the implementation of the Integrated Guided Missile program. His success soon earned him the title of the missile man of India. Another decade later in 1992, he became the senior scientific adviser to India’s defence minister. It is this position he leveraged to campaign for the developments for nuclear tests.
Kalam played a key role in the Pokhran-II tests in May 1998. As a part of these tests, five nuclear devices were detonated in the deserts of Rajasthan. These tests resulted in condemnation and economic sanctions from various world powers, but Kalam became a national hero in no time for his staunch defence of the country’s security.
Presidential Role of APJ Abdul Kalam:
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) supported Kalam to win the election and become the 11th President of the Republic of India in 2002. His popularity was such that he soon came to be known as the People’s President.
Kalam set a goal of conducting 5,00,000 one-on-one meetings with young people over the tenure of his five-year term. He was so popular that he was nominated for the Youth Icon of the Year award twice in 2003 and 2006 by MTV.
After leaving office in 2007, Kalam continued his interactions with the youth as a visiting professor to several universities. He believed in the power of compassion and love. A movement by the name “What Can I Give Movement” was started by him in 2011 with the goal of creating a compassionate society.
He also championed certain causes of medical and healthcare in rural and remote areas.
Death and Legacy of APJ Abdul Kalam:
On July 27, 2015, while he was lecturing at the IIM, Shillong, Kalam suffered a massive heart attack and subsequently died at the age of 83.
On July 30 he was laid to rest with full state honours in his native Tamil Nadu. In honour of the scientist and former president, the government of Tamil Nadu created a “Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award,” which recognizes exceptional individuals who promote the sciences, students and humanities. The government has also established Kalam’s birthday (October 15) as “Youth Renaissance Day.” The Wheeler Island which is the ITR for various missiles was renamed as the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island in honour of the late President.
Dr Kalam had honorary doctorates from 40 different universities. His contributions towards modernization of government defence technologies were acknowledged by the Padma Bhushan award in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan award in 1990, and the Bharat Ratna in 1997. He also authored several books, including the autobiography Wings of Fire in 1999.
Dr Kalam’s life, achievements, simplicity, and personality has provided inspiration to millions of children and shall continue to do so in years to come.