APJ Abdul Kalam’s Life and Career – A Glimpse
Famously known as A.P.J Abdul Kalam [Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam] was the 11th President of India and remained active in office between 2002 and 2007. First a scientist and then a politician, Kalam was born in Rameswaram – a town in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
After having studied physics and aerospace engineering, Kalam spent nearly 40 years as a scientist primarily at Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). He was also involved in India’s military missile development efforts and civilian space program. For his contributions in the development of launch vehicle technology and ballistic missile, he was cited with the prestigious title of the Missile Man of India.
This is just a brief part of the immense and rich history of A.P.J Abdul Kalam. The list of honors and awards accomplished by Kalam during his entire lifetime is certainly endless.
His Early Life
Abdul Kalam was born on 15th October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family (people who speak Tamil and have Islam as their religion) in Rameswaram. A boat owner, Jainulabudeen was his father, and a housewife, Ashiamma was his mother.
Kalam belonged to a poor household and began working at an early age to contribute in his family’s income. He used to distribute newspapers after finishing school to supplement his father’s income.
He went to the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School and attained average grades in his school years. However, he was considered a laborious and bright student with a keen interest in Mathematics. After completing his schooling, he went to attend Saint Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli and graduated in Physics in 1954. Then, he went to attend Madras Institute of Technology in Madras in 1955 to study Aerospace Engineering.
During his senior class project, he was stressed tremendously by the Dean to finish his project within the next three days. He was even threatened of the cancellation of his scholarship if he didn’t meet the deadline. However, he ended up meeting the deadline and impressing the Dean with his performance.
His Professional Career
Kalam graduated from Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, and started working as a scientist in DRDO. He even designed a small helicopter for the Indian Army at the beginning of his career, but remained dissatisfied of his job at the DRDO.
In 1969, he was transferred to the ISRO where he was the project director of India’s 1st Satellite Launch Vehicle. In addition, he was invited by Raja Ramanna—the famous Indian physicist—to witness India’s 1st nuclear test Smiling Buddha.
In the 1970s, Kalam directed two projects: Project Valiant and Project Devil that were aimed at developing ballistic missiles by means of the technology of the successful SLV programme. Kalam’s educational leadership and research brought him prodigious glories in the 1980s that propelled the government to start an advanced missile programme under his leadership.
His additional accomplishments include his major role in developing numerous missiles under Agni, which is an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithvi, which is the strategic surface-to-surface missile.
Between 1992 and 1999, Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary to the DRDO. He also played an extensive technological and political role in the Pokhran-II nuclear tests. During this time, media coverage of Kalam cited him as the nation’s best-known nuclear scientist.
In the year 1998, Kalam developed a low-cost coronary stent together with cardiologist Soma Raju, which was named the Kalam-Raju Stent. In the year 2012, the duo designed the Kalam-Raju tablet that was a rugged tablet for health care in rural regions.
Check this Abdul Kalam’s speech on EU parliament:
His Political Journey
Kalam won the 2002 presidential election to become the 11th President of India. He was the third president of India to have been honored with the prestigious Bharat Ratna—India’s highest civilian honor. Apparently, he was also the first bachelor and the first scientist to occupy Rashtrapati Bhawan. During his tenure as president, Kalam was popularly known as the People’s President.
Interestingly, Kalam visited a modest school to deliver a speech soon after it was proclaimed that he would be the next president. He was speaking to about 400 students when the power went off. To ensure there was no interruption due to the power cut, he stood right in the middle of the crowd and asked all the students to surround him. And he gave a stunning speech with no arrangements whatsoever.
After His Presidency
Kalam left office and became a visiting professor at the IIM Ahmedabad, the IIM Shillong, and the IIM Indore. He also taught IT at the IIT Hyderabad and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.
He launched a programme for the youth of India in May 2012, and it was known as the What Can I Give Movement. The programme was driven toward defeating corruption. Kalam was an avid player of veenai, a South Indian string instrument and enjoyed writing poetry in Tamil.
A vegetarian, Kalam was an ardent lover of Carnatic devotional music, and used to read Bhagavad Gita. Nominated for MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 as well as 2006, Kalam was portrayed in a movie called I Am Kalam that was the story of a poor but bright Rajasthani boy.
His Awards and Honors
Kalam received honorary doctorates from as many as 40 universities. The United Nations recognized his 79th birthday as World Student Day. He was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his immense contributions during his time at ISRO and DRDO. In 1997, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna for his work in scientific research and defense technology in India. To commemorate Kalam’s visit to Switzerland, 26th May was declared as Science Day. In the year 2013, he was presented with the Von Braun Award by the National Space Society for his unparalleled leadership and management of a space-related project.
His Books and Documentaries
Out of his many books, a few of the notable ones are India 2020, Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, Target 3 Billion, Reignited, You Are Born To Blossom, Turning Points, Forge Your Future, and You are Unique.
His biographies include President A P J Abdul Kalam, The Kalam Effect, Eternal Quest, A Little Dream, My Days With Mahatma Abdul Kalam, A P J Abdul Kalam.
His Famous Quotes
Every quote by Kalam is awe-inspiring. Here are a few:
“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”
“Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.”
“Without your involvement you can’t succeed. With your involvement you can’t fail.”
“One of the very important characteristics of a student is to question. Let the students ask questions.”
It was the evening of 27th July 2015, when Kalam collapsed suddenly at around 6:30 pm while delivering a lecture at the IIM Shillong. Right then he was taken to Bethania Hospital and was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Unfortunately, just after two hours, he was confirmed dead due to a major cardiac arrest. – Source
Following Kalam’s death, the Government of India announced a 7-day state mourning period to pay homage and reverence to the former president. Numerous leaders including President Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi express grief over Kalam’s demise.
The Bhutanese government flew their country’s flags at half-staff and offered 1000 butter lamps to pay homage to the People’s President.
Everyone is tweeting about his death and showing respect to the Missile Man
RIP @APJAbdulKalam … your teachings, leadership and humanity were inspiration to us all.
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) July 27, 2015
Former President of India, a renowned scientist, an inspiration to all, a terrific human being…RIP Dr. Abdul Kalam (2/2) — sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) July 27, 2015
PM @narendramodi paying respects to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. pic.twitter.com/ODEf5f8n3i
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 28, 2015
T 1943 – A brilliant mind, a child like demeanour, simple caring and loved by all .. ex POI passes away .. PRAYERS pic.twitter.com/MvKnWx9Vty — Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) July 27, 2015
A passionate scientist, a loving politician, and a hardworking leader—Abdul Kalam was one of India’s most decorated leaders ever. The youth loved him, respected him, and adored him. Kalam could strike a chord with anyone with his inspirational messages, and could leave anyone enchanted with his spellbound aura. It is fair to say that India has lost a treasure—but the legacy of Kalam will continue to live forever.
This is indeed a wonderful tribute to a great personality!
I liked the way you present the whole picture of this great visionary.
Indeed, he was a one of its kind a rare personality among thousands,
His story from his childhood you brought out in this brief post,
Thank you so much for bringing out such an elegant tribute to a great person!
The sad part is that many of your leaders brought out tributes and statements
about this stalwart but how many of them are following a bit of his lifestyle is
still a big question! Indeed, he was a role model to many!
He left out many good foot prints to emulate.
I am sure our young generation can pick a lot of lessons from this great personality
May his tribe increase.
Thanks again for bringing out such a great tribute to Dr. Kalam
Have a great time of blogging and sharing ahead
He is the one leader whose death has broken my heart otherwise I don’t regret when a leader dies, but he is not just a leader but the man who is the best of all!
They don’t follow him because no one can live his life. He was just out of the world!
Thanks for the comment Philip.
I fully agree with you on that note!
It is indeed a great loss to the nation
especially the children of our nation!
yes, majority, why almost all of our
so called leaders can;t even stand
near to this amazing personality!
He was indeed a gem!
Kalam Sir, real hero of India.
Indeed, He was the real Hero! 🙂
Great Post Atish,
You have summarised the whole life of a legendary person Mr. APJ Abdul kalam into one article. He is an inspiration for many people including me. I remember the first ever biography I read was of Mr. kalam. He is an example of becoming zero to Hero with just two factors, that is Hard and willpower.
His sudden demise is a huge loss to our country but, at least we Indian have the privilege that he was an Indian and served India for his whole life. His life is a motivational story. He will remain forever in our hearts. Thumbs up to your tribute to the great personality. 🙂
He is the one!
I never felt so disturbed after the demise of any leader, but as soon as I heard this bad news, I had gone blank.
Thanks for reading the article, and sharing your thought with us, Sonam.
Thank you very much Atish…,
You have done good work and thanks for posting this article about Mr. APJ Abdul kalam biography with images.
Thanks for reading about him, Siva.
Thanks Frends for sharing all information about APJ Abdul kalam. He is A Great Man . He is Many people inspiration.Thanks a lot frend
Thank you for visiting, reading and commenting on this post Nikita.
Thanks for post this article . From your article i got all the information about APJ Abdul Kalam. APJ Abdul KAlam Is My ideal Person And Also All the student.
He was the idol for almost everyone in our country. A great man.
Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam is the one of the best president of India and he is the one of the best scientist who never gave up for any thing. and he is also a good author who wrote awesome books about his life. i salute Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam for being my ideal..
In fact, he was the best person of Indian. Thanks for your words for him, Sonu.
So sorry for your loss of Abdul Kalam, the people’s president. He had such dreams and followed through with them. He was a very special human being. He lived life at its fullest. He helped so many people during his life. He went from being a nobody to becoming President of India and was a incredible leader.
I bought his book “You Are Unique”.
You should send your blog post to CNN. It is a wonderful biography of his life.
You have a wonderful night and rest of the week.
Thanks for your good words. I am glad that you have already bought his book.
By the way how can I send my blog post to CNN?
Hope you are enjoying the week.
I must have been under a rock because I had no idea of this great man. I enjoyed the speech he has given on EU Parliament. Just his presence alone shows a glow with peace and love.
His history of his life is amazing so much so, that I just ordered his book on Amazon via this link. I do want to know more about him.
When I find a special person in this world, I like to dig deeper and find more about his or her work and what gifts brought to the world.
Now this is why I love blogging so much. Always something to learn! You have given me a gift my friend of knowledge of this man. I thank you.
He was indeed a great man of our country. Our very own missile man cum former president. We are gonna miss him badly. He was just out of the world. I am glad that he said bye to this world while doing what he loved.
Thanks for coming by.
Rest in Peace Abdul Kalam, one of a kind and an example for everybody, always humble even when he was one of the most important minds of this and the last century.
apj abdul kalam is great teacher all over the world.
You did a very good job writing about the life of this great man.
He was not only a missile man ,he is a example for the youth in India.
He showed what can be accomplished by going after a dream.
A real Hero . I love his quotes .
May he rest in peace .
One of the Greatest person which always remember in our hear. Thanks for sharing the truth of his life. Very inspirational story.
I’m really grateful to you as I was searching for APJ biography and achievements just now and I guess this post really helped me.
Very timely piece! A great tribute to a great person! Indeed, he was an adorable stalwart in the history of India.
Atish, your write-up is indeed a timely and informative one for the present and future generation. The future one will know by reading this, ‘there lived a saint among us who lived for the fellow citizens and their needs neglecting his own needs.
Thanks for sharing
Great personality, You’ve shared almost everything like great achievements and biography of Mr. Abdul Kalam.
Thank you Atish for this post and covering wonderful human being. He is an inspiration for millions of youngsters. Our country has not seen such a humble and great person ever..
Yes Mukesh! He was indeed a great person.
Hi Atish, Really nice article, APJ Abdul kalam sir was really great man,
nice article ,apj abdul kalam was real indian and idol for every indian and youth.
Kalam was such an interesting man. God bless his soul.
I saw images of him when I traveled through Southern India. I saw the most when I was in Tamil Nadu. He was a visionary, a scholar and an all around wonderful human being.
Thank you so much for sharing his story with us.
I think most of us Americans here have never heard of him which is ashame. But I’m glad that you brought him to our attention. He was a great soul that accomplished many things and is a inspirational to all of us to be what we can be. He went from humble beginnings, to being a scientist, winning awards and to presidency. Not too many people have achieved this feat!
Thanks for the share Atish! Have a good one!
He is one of those persons who stayed in his own motherland and served her. Most of the today’s generation move to countries like USA, UK for more opportunities, but he did work for the motherland.
I am happy that you got to know about him today. 🙂
This My Ideal Man,
“”Hello”” This is to be sure a superb tribute to an incredible identity!
I enjoyed the way you display the entire photo of this incredible visionary.
To be sure, he was a one of its kind an uncommon identity among thousands,
His story from his adolescence you acquired out this brief post,
Much thanks to you such a great amount for conveying out such a rich tribute to an extraordinary individual!
The miserable part is that a considerable lot of your pioneers brought out tributes and proclamations
about this stalwart yet what number of them are taking after a touch of his way of life is
still a central issue! Without a doubt, he was a good example to numerous!
He forgot numerous great impressions to imitate.
Hi Atish, Really nice article, to understand APJ Abdul Kalam’s life in a short time of span.
Wah yaar mast article hai.. loved it. APJ Abdul Kalam ko hum sub bhut miss krte hai
APJ will be alive in our hearts forever! Great stuff.
Thanks friend for sharing all information about APJ Abdul kalam.
He is great man.He is an inspiration for million of people
He is no more with us but his memory is always with us. The man changed the history of India 🙂