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Abdul Kalam

Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, popularly known as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the son of a little educated boat-owner in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, has become the 11th President of the Republic of India.

Dr. Kalam was born on October 15, 1931. He had a secured childhood both materially and emotionally. To quote from his autobiography Wings of Fire: “I was born into a middle-class Tamil family in the island town of Rameswaram in Madras state. My father, Jainulabdeen, possessed neither much formal education nor much wealth; despite these disadvantages, he possessed great innate wisdom and a true generosity of spirit. He had an ideal helpmate in my mother, Ashiamma. I do not recall the exact number of people she fed everyday, but I am quite certain that far more outsiders ate with us than all the members of our own family…We lived in our ancestral house, which was built in the middle of the 19th century. It was a fairly large pucca house, made of limestone and brick, on the Mosque Street of Rameswaram.

My austere father used to avoid all inessential comforts and luxuries. However, all that was needed was provided for, in terms of food, medicine or cloths. In fact, I would say mine was a very secure childhood, both materially and emotionally.” Dr. Kalam’s father commanded a high respect as a religious man. Dr, Kalam has acknowledged that his scientific accomplishment and his views are very much influenced by his parents and other well-wishers. To quote him from his autobiography : “Every child is born, with some characteristics, into a specific socio-economic and emotional environment, and trained along the way, in certain ways by figures of authority. I inherited honesty and self-discipline from my father; from my mother, I inherited faith in goodness and deep kindness as did my three brothers and sisters. But it was the time I spent with Jallaluddin and Samsuddin that perhaps contributed most to the uniqueness of my childhood and made all the difference in my later life. The unschooled wisdom of Jallauddin and Samsuddin was so intuitive, responsive to non-verbal messages that I can unhesitatingly attribute my subsequently manifested creativity to their company in my childhood.” It may be noted that Ahmed Jallaluddin was a close friend of Dr. Kalam and Somesuddin was his first cousins.

After studying in a primary school in Ramaeswaran, Dr. Kalam went to Schwartz High School at Ramanathpuram from where he went to Tiruchchirapalli for his higher studies. Dr. Kalam wrote : “By the time I completed my education at Schwartz, I was a self-confident boy with the determination to be successful. The decision to go in for further education was taken without a second thought. To us, in those days, the awarness of the possibilities for a professional education did not exist; higher education simply meant going to college. The nearest college was at Tiruchchirapalli, spelled Trichinopoly those days, and called Trichi for short. “

After completing his BSc from St. Joseph’s college he joined the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), for studying aeronautical engineering. From MIT, he went to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Bangalore as a trainee. As aeronautical engineer Dr. Kalam had two options -- in short, to join the Directorate of Technical Development and Production, or DTD & P (Air) of the Ministry of Defence or the Indian Air Force. As he could not make it to Indian Air Force, Dr. Kalam joined the Technical Centre (Civil Aviation) of the DTD & P (Air) as Senior Scientific Assistant on a basic salary of Rs. 250/-. While working at the Air force Directorate he got a chance to realise his dream. He joined the Indian Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), the predecessor of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). And thus Kalam started his much talked about career in rocket and missile technology

Dr. Kalam has been often referred to as the "Missile Man of India" and was the Project Director of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). Career. He graduated in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1958 and joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In 1962, Kalam joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In 1982, he rejoined DRDO as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). Dr. Kalam is credited with the development and operationalisation of India's Agni and Prithvi missiles. He worked as the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from 1992 to 1999. During this period , the Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted. Dr. Kalam held the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India from November 1999 to November 2001.

Dr. Kalam took up teaching at Anna University, Chennai from November 2001. He is a prolific author. His books , "Wings of Fire", "India 2020 - A Vision for the New Millennium", "My journey" and "Ignited Minds - Unleashing the power within India" have become bestsellers. He is a favourite with children all over the country and has met children all over the country and has encouraged them with his learned talks.

Dr. Kalam has received a host of awards both in India and abroad. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan 1990 and the Bharat Ratna in 1997. He is of the view that we should work wholeheartedly to make India a developed nation by 2020.Besides being a bachelor, Kalam is a strict disciplarinian, a complete vegetarian and teetotaler. Among the many firsts to his credit, he became India's first President to undertake an undersea journey when he boarded the INS Sindhurakshak, a submarine, from Visakhapatnam. He also became the first president to undertake a sortie in an fighter aircraft, a Sukhoi-30 MKI.

A notable engineer, he is often referred to as the Missile Man of India for his work and is considered a progressive mentor, innovator and visionary in India. He is also popularly known as the People's President. His term as president ended on July 25, 2007.

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