DR. A. P. J. ABDUL KALAM
SHORT DISCRIPTION :
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 1931 – 27 July 2015) was an Indian politician and aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organisational, technical, and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaramon Pamban Island, then in the Madras Presidency and now in the State of Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque his mother Ashiamma was a housewife. His father owned a ferry that took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now uninhabited Dhanushkodi Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and one sister in his family. His ancestors had been wealthy traders and landowners, with numerous properties and large tracts of land. Their business had involved trading groceries between the mainland and the island and to and from Sri Lanka, as well as ferrying pilgrims between the mainland and Pamban. As a result, the family acquired the title of “Mara Kalam Iyakkivar” (wooden boat steerers), which over the years became shortened to “Marakier.” With the opening of the Pamban Bridge to the mainland in 1914, however, the businesses failed and the family fortune and properties were lost over time, apart from the ancestral home. By his early childhood, Kalam’s family had become poor; at an early age, he sold newspapers to supplement his family’s income.
In his school years, Kalam had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn. He spent hours on his studies, especially mathematics After completing his education at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, “I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline”.He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
JOURNEY AS A SCIENTIST :
By profession, he was a scientist and an administrator in India. He worked with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as an aerospace engineer before becoming the President of India. His work on the development of launch vehicle and ballistic missile technology had earned him the name of the ‘Missile Man of India’. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests conducted in India in 1998 after the original nuclear test of 1974 saw him in a pivotal political, organisational and technical role.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore; the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; and the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. He was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the JSS University in Mysore and at the Anna University in Chennai, apart from being an adjunct and visiting faculty at other research and academic institutions in India. He was the honorary fellow of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram.
In his book ‘India 2020’, he recommended plans to make the nation a fully developed one by the year 2020. His interactions with the student community and his motivational speeches made him quite popular among the youth. In 2011, he launched a mission called ‘What Can I Give Movement’ aimed at the youth of India, which focused on defeating corruption in the country.
Journey and Achievements as a Scientist:
- After completing his graduation in 1960, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam joined as a scientist in Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Aeronautical Development Establishment.
- At the very start of his career, he designed a small helicopter for the Indian army.
- He also worked under the renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai as a part of the committee of INCOSPAR.
- From 1963 to 1964, he visited the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the Wallops Flight Facility located at the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Langley Research Center of NASA situated at Hampton, Virginia.
- In 1965, he worked independently in Defence Research and Development Organisation for the first time on an expandable rocket project. The programme was expanded in 1969 and more engineers were included after receiving Government approval.
- He became the Project Director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) when he was transferred in 1969 to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In July 1980, his team was successful in deploying the Rohini satellite near the orbit of the Earth.
- Dr. Kalam’s efforts in developing the projects on SLV-III and Polar SLV from 1970s to 1990s proved to be successful.
- Dr. Kalam directed Project Valiant and Project Devil that aimed at developing ballistic missiles using the technology of the SLV programme that was a success. It is known that the then
- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, using her discretionary powers, allotted secret funds when these aerospace projects were disapproved by the Union Cabinet.
- Dr. Kalam and Dr. V.S. Arunachalam, on the proposal of the then Defense Minister R. Venkataraman, worked on developing a quiver of missiles instead of one at a time. Dr. Kalam was made the Chief Executive of the programme, which was named Integrated Guided Missile Development programme.
- From July 1992 to December 1999 he remained the Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and also the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister. This period witnessed the Pokhran II nuclear tests, when Dr. Kalam played a key technological and political role. At the time of the testing phase, he, along with R. Chidambaram, was made the Chief Project Coordinator.
- He developed a low-cost Coronary Stent along with Dr. Soma Raju, a cardiologist, in 1998. It was named “Kalam-Raju Stent” after them. Both of them also designed a tablet PC called “Kalam-Raju Tablet” for healthcare in rural areas.
LATTER LIFE :
Bharat Ratna Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Ab dul Kalam, generally known as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was the 11th Presidentof India (2002-2007). He was elected against Lakshmi Sehgal in 2002. Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the then-opposition Indian National Congress. Widely referred to as the “People’s President” he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service after a single term. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Kalam collapsed and died from an apparent cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015, aged 83. Thousands including national-level dignitaries attended the funeral ceremony held in his hometown of Rameshwaram, where he was buried with full state honours.
Awards and Recognitions :
- The nation honoured Dr Kalam with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, in 1997 for his contribution in the field of scientific research, development and modernisation of technology in the defence sector of India.
- In 1990, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Indian Government for his work with the DRDO and ISRO and as scientific advisor to the Government.
- In 1981 he received the Padma Bhushan
- In 1998, the Government of India presented to him the Veer Savarkar Award.
- The Alwar Research Centre, Chennai, bestowed on him the Ramanujan Award in 2000.
- The University of Wolverhampton in UK bestowed on him the Honorary Doctorate of Science in 2007.
- California Institute of Technology, USA, honoured him with the International von Karman Wings Award in 2009.
- In 1997, the Indian National Congress conferred him with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
- He received the Hoover Medal from ASME Foundation, U.S.A, in 2009.
- The Royal Society of UK honoured him with the King Charles II Medal in 2007.
- In 2008, he received the Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa) from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.
- In 2010 The University of Waterloo honoured him with the Doctor of Engineering
- In 2011, he became an honorary member of the IEEE.
- In 2012, the Simon Fraser University conferred on him the Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa).
- In 2013, he received the Von Braun Award from National Space Society in recognition of his excellence in the leadership and management of space-related projects.
- In 2014, he received an honorary degree in Doctor of Science from Edinburgh University, UK.
- 2015 – The United Nations recognized Dr. Kalam’s birthday as “World Student’s Day”.