Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – The Missile Man of India
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam full name is Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. He was an Indian scientist and a politician. He played a crucial role in the development of India’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. He was regarded as the Missile Man of India. He was the President of India from the year 2002 to 2007.
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – The Missile Man of India
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was honoured with several prestigious awards including India’s highest civilian honour “Bharat Ratna” in the year 1997. He was born in Dhanushkodi, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India and he pursued physics and aerospace engineering.
He was the 11th president of India, who was elected against Lakshmi Sehgal in the year 2002. Before taking charge as the President of India, he worked with a space organisation, Indian Space Research Organisation popularly known as (ISRO) and also at Defence Research and Development Organisation, also known as (DRDO) and designated as an aerospace engineer.
He was regarded as the Missile Man of India for his essential role in the nation’s civilian space programme and military missile development. Also, in the year 1998, he made some significant contributions to India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests.
Do you know that A.P.J Abdul Kalam began his career as a scientist at the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)? He had also served as the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) at ISRO.
In the 1990s he had served as the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the Prime Minister before taking charge as the President of India in the year 2002.
Family History and Early Life
Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October, in the year 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in Rameswaram, then in Madras Presidency in British India, which is now known as Tamil Nadu. His father’s name was Jainulabdeen, who owns a boat and imam of a local mosque. His mother’s name was Ashiamma, who was a housewife.
Abdul Kalam was the youngest and had five siblings; the eldest was a sister, named Asim Zohra and three elder brothers, namely Mustafa Kalam, Kasim Mohammed and Mohammed Muthu Meera Lebbai Maraikayar. He was very close to his family and always helped them, though he remained a whole bachelor life.
His ancestors had been wealthy traders and landowners, with numerous properties and large tracts of land. They trade groceries between the mainland and the island to and from Srilanka and also ferrying the pilgrims from the shore to the Pamban Island. So, their family got the title “Mara Kalam Iyakkivar” (wooden boat steerers) and then known as “Marakier.”
But by 1920s, his family had lost most of his fortune; their businesses failed and by the time Abdul Kalam was born are in the stage of the poverty-stricken. To help his family, Kalam started selling newspapers at an early age.
During his school days, Kalam had average grades but was described as a hardworking and a bright student who had a strong desire to learn. Mathematics was his main interest.
Abdul Kalam completed his matriculation from Schwartz Higher Secondary School, located in Ramanathapuram and later he went to the Saint Joseph’s College where he became a physics graduate. In the year 1955, he went to Madras to pursue aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology.
During his graduation, he was assigned a project to design a low-level attack aircraft with other students. Their teacher had given them a tight deadline to finish this project; it was challenging. Kalam worked hard under pressure and completed his project within the stipulated period. The teacher was impressed by the dedication of Kalam.
As a result, Kalam wants to become a fighter pilot, but he got 9th position in the qualifiers list, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
Education and Career
A.P.J Abdul Kalam had completed his graduation in the year 1957 from the Madras Institute of Technology, and in the year 1958, he had joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist.
In the early 1960s, he worked with the Indian National Committee for Space Research also known as INCOSPAR under the famous space scientist Vikram Sarabhai.
After visiting NASA’s Langely Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia; Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Flight Facility in 1963-64, he had started working on an expandable rocket project independently in 1965 at DRDO.
He was not much satisfied with his work at DRDO, and when he received transfer orders to the ISRO in 1969, he became happy. There he served as the project director of the SLV-III which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980. It is India’s first indigenously designed and produced a satellite launch vehicle.
Kalam received the government’s approval in 1969 and expanded the programme to include more engineers. In the 1970s, he had made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite into Sun-Synchronous orbit, PSLV project was successful and on 20 September 1993, it was first launched.
In the 1970s, Abdul Kalam directed two projects, namely Project Devil and Project Valiant. Do you know about the Project Devil? It was a new liquid-fuelled missile project aimed at producing a short-range surface-to-air missile. This project was not successful and discontinued in the 1980s, and later it led to the development of the Prithvi missile. On the other hand, Project, Valiant which was aimed at the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile was also not successful.
An Indian Ministry of Defence programme, which was managed by DRDO in association with other government organisations launched the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) in the early 1980s. Abdul Kalam was asked to lead the project, and in 1983 he returned to DRDO as the Chief Executive of IGMDP in the year 1983.
The programme led to the development of four projects namely Short-range surface-to-surface missile (Prithvi), Short range low-level surface-to-air missile (Trishul), Medium range surface-to-air missile (Akash) and Third-generation anti-tank missile (Nag).
Under the leadership of Abdul Kalam, the project of IGMDP proved to be successful by producing missiles like first Prithvi missile in 1988 and then the Agni missile in 1989. Due to his contribution, he was known as “Missile Man of India.”
In 1992, he was appointed as the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. With the rank of a cabinet minister, in 1999, he was appointed as the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
Abdul Kalam played a significant role in conducting the Pokhran-II, a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions in May 1998. With the success of these tests, he got the status of a national hero, and then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state.
Not this much, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 1998 proposed a countrywide plan called Technology Vision 2020 to make India a developed nation by the year 2020 and suggested nuclear empowerment, various technological innovations, improvement of agricultural productivity etc.
In the year 2002, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power and nominated Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the post of the President of India. Being a popular national figure, he won the presidential election easily.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as a President of India (2002 to 2007)
– On 10 June 2002, the NDA government proposed Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam name for the presidential post to the Leader of Opposition, Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
– Dr Abdul Kalam served as the President of India from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. He was the first scientist and the first bachelor to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
– Do you know that in the presidential election he got approx. 922,884 votes and defeated Lakshmi Sehgal.
– He became the 11th President of India by succeeding K.R Narayanan.
– He received the prestigious Bharat Ratna and became the third President to receive the highest civilian honour after Dr Sarvapali Radhakrishnan in 1954 Dr Zakir Hussain in 1963.
– Dr Abdul Kalam was also known as People’s President.
– According to Dr Kalam, the toughest decision taken by him as the President was signing the bill of office of Profit.
– Over his five-year term, he remained committed to his vision of transforming India into a developed nation.
– He was however criticised for his inaction to decide the fate of 20 mercy petitions out of 21, including that of the Kashmiri Terrorist Afzal Guru, who was convicted for the parliament attacks in December 2001.
– He decided not to contest the Presidential election again in 2007 and stepped down as the President on 25 July 2007.
– He also taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.
– In 2011, he was criticised by civil groups over his stand on Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant as he had supported the establishment of the nuclear power plant and was accused of not speaking with the local people.
– ‘What Can I Give Movement’ a programme launched by Dr Abdul Kalam for the youth of India with a central theme of defeating corruption.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Death
On 27 July 2015, Dr Abdul Kalam was delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong where he suffered a heart attack, and his condition became critical, so, he was shifted to Bethany Hospital where after that, he died of cardiac arrest. His last words, to Srijan Pal Singh, were “Funny guy! Are you doing well?”
On 30 July 2015, the former President was laid to rest at Rameshwaram’s Pei Karumbu Ground with State honours. Did you know that around 350,000 people attended the last ritual of Kalam, including the Prime Minister of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh?
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s death was most honoured in the country, and worldwide. World student day is being celebrated on his birthday. There is no doubt in saying that Abdul Kalam has an example for a living. What are your views on this statement? You can answer this question by commenting in the comment box.
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