Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam – the Missile Man of India, was the 11th President of India. He was famous for his work in creating missiles and space technology. He played a big role in the Defence Research and Development Organization, helping India grow in military and space research.
Early life and Education
Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, a famous leader and scientist in India, had quite a humble start. Born on October 15, 1931, in Tamil Nadu, Kalam grew up in a Muslim family. His father, Jainulabdeen, owned a boat and was a mosque leader, while his mother, Ashiamma, stayed at home. They were once rich, trading goods and ferrying people, but later they lost their wealth.
Kalam was the youngest of his five siblings – four brothers and one sister. Despite being poor, he worked hard in school, selling newspapers to help his family. He loved studying, especially math. After high school, he studied physics in college at Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. Then he went to Madras in 1955 to learn about aerospace engineering.
In college, he worked on a big project and impressed his dean by finishing it in just three days after being warned of losing his scholarship. Kalam almost became a fighter pilot but missed the chance by a narrow margin, ranking ninth when only eight were selected.
Career as a Scientist
After finishing his studies in 1960, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam joined the (DRDO) Defense Research and Development Organization as a scientist. He first designed a hovercraft but soon felt he wanted to do more. He worked under Vikram Sarabhai, a famous space scientist, and later moved to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). There, he led the project that launched India’s first satellite, Rohini, into space in 1980.
Kalam visited NASA in the US during 1963–1964, gaining valuable experience. Back in India, he worked on important space projects like the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III, both of which were successful.
He witnessed India’s first nuclear test in 1974, though he wasn’t involved in its making. In the 1970s, he led two missile projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, and played a key role in keeping them secret.
Kalam’s success in the 1980s led to the launch of a big missile project, where he developed important missiles like Agni and Prithvi. He was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister from 1992 to 1999, playing a major role in the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests.
Also, Kalam, with cardiologist Soma Raju, invented a low-cost heart stent in 1998 and a healthcare tablet for rural areas in 2012. These inventions showed his dedication to both science and improving people’s live.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam became the 11th President of India after K. R. Narayanan. He won the election in 2002 with a lot of votes which is much more than his competitor, Lakshmi Sahgal. He was President from July 25, 2002, to July 25, 2007. People really loved him and called him the People’s President because he was so friendly and connected with everyone.
On July 27, 2015, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam went to Shillong to give a speech at the Indian Institute of Management. The talk speech was about making the Earth a better place to live in. When he was climbing up some stairs, he felt a bit unwell but managed to rest and then went to the auditorium. Sadly, just five minutes into his lecture, he collapsed. He was quickly taken to Bethany Hospital, but it was very serious. The doctors tried to help him, but he had already passed away from a sudden heart attack at 7:45 p.m. at Shillong.