Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 1931 - 27 July 2015)
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 1931 - 27 July 2015) was an Indian scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. Dr. Kalam collapsed during a lecture at IIM Shillong and died of massive cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015.
Kalam 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 the India's civilian space program 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 organizational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.
In 2002, Kalam was elected the President of India in 2002 with the support of the both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. After serving a term of 5 years, he returned to civilian life of education, writing, and public service. He has received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor.
Early life and education
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 in a Tamil Muslim family to Jainulabudeen, a boat owner and Ashiamma, a housewife, at Rameswaram, Ramanathapuram District, located in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his family's income. After completing school, Kalam distributed newspapers to financially contribute to his father's income.In his school years, he had average grades, but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn and spend hours on his studies, especially mathematics. He was just a simple man with a great fierceful heart in his childhood After completing his school education at the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, 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. Towards the end of the course, he was not enthusiastic about the subject and would later regret the four years he studied it. He then moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with the lack of progress and threatened revoking his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. He worked tirelessly on his project and met the deadline, impressing the Dean who later said, "I [Dean] was putting you [Kalam] 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.
Career as a scientist
After graduating from Madras Institute of Technology (MIT – Chennai) in 1960, Kalam joined Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist. Kalam started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, but remained unconvinced with the choice of his job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near earth's orbit in July 1980. Joining ISRO was one of Kalam's biggest achievements in life and he is said to have found himself when he started to work on the Satellite Launching Vehicle (SLV) project. Kalam first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Kalam received the government's approval and expanded the programme to include more engineers.
In 1963–64, he visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton Virginia, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Flight Facility situated at Eastern Shore of Virginia. During the period between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launching Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be success.
Kalam was invited by Raja Ramanna to witness the country's first nuclear test Smiling Buddha as the representative of TBRL, even though he had not participated in the development, test site preparation and weapon designing. In the 1970s, a landmark was achieved by ISRO when the locally built Rohini-1 was launched into space, using the SLV rocket. In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant , which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme. Despite the disapproval of Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under Kalam's directorship. Kalam played an integral role convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects. His research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in the 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile programme under his directorship. Kalam and Dr V S Arunachalam, metallurgist and scientific adviser to the Defence Minister, worked on the suggestion by the then Defence Minister, R Venkataraman on a proposal for simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one after another.
R Venkatraman was instrumental in getting the cabinet approval for allocating 388 crores for the mission, named Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and appointed Kalam as the chief executive. Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the mission including Agni, an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithvi, the tactical surface-to-surface missile, although the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns.
Kalam was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister, and the Secretary of Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which he played an intensive political and technological role. Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator, along with R. Chidambaram during the testing phase.Media coverage of Kalam during this period made him the country's best known nuclear scientist. However, the director of the site test, K Santhanam, said that the thermonuclear bomb had been a "fizzle" and criticisied Kalam for issuing an incorrect report. Both Kalam and R. Chidambaram dismissed the claims.
In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent". In 2012, the duo, designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".
Kalam served as the 11th President of India, succeeding K R Narayanan. He won the 2002 presidential election with an electoral vote of 922,884, surpassing 107,366 votes won by Lakshmi Sahgal. He served from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007.
|Missile Man Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam Passes Away|
Awards and honoursA P J Abdul Kalam's 79th birthday was recognised as World Student's Day by United Nations.He has also received honorary doctorates from 40 universities.The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. In 1997, Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his immense and valuable contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence technology in India. In 2005, Switzerland declared 26 May as science day to commemorate Kalam's visit in the country.In 2013, he was the recipient of the Von Braun Award from the National Space Society "to recognize excellence in management of and leadership for a space-related project."
- Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology by A P J Abdul Kalam and Roddam Narasimha; Indian Academy of Sciences, 1988
- India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium by A P J Abdul Kalam, Y S Rajan; New York, 1998.
- Wings of Fire: An Autobiography by A P J Abdul Kalam, Arun Tiwari; Universities Press, 1999.
- Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India by A P J Abdul Kalam; Viking, 2002.
- The Luminous Sparks by A P J Abdul Kalam, by; Punya Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2004.
- Mission India by A P J Abdul Kalam, Paintings by Manav Gupta; Penguin Books, 2005
- Inspiring Thoughts by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal & Sons, 2007
- You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond by A P J Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari; Ocean Books, 2011.
- Target 3 Billion" by A P J Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh; December 2011 Publisher Penguin Books.
- Turning Points: A journey through challenges by A P J Abdul Kalam; Harper Collins India, 2012.
- My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions by A P J Abdul Kalam; August 2013 by the Rupa Publication.
- A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020 by A P J Abdul Kalam and V Ponraj; July 2014 by Harper Collins.
- Transcendence My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji by A P J Abdul Kalam; June 2015 by Harper Collins India Publication.