Born on Oct 15, 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was an Indian scientist and politician who played a leading role in the development of India’s missile and nuclear programmes. He was also the Indian President from the year 2002 to 2007.
Kalam got his degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in the year 1958 and soon after joined the DRDO,Defence Research and Development Organisation in India as the Project Director of the SLV-III, India’s first indigenously designed and produced satellite launch vehicle. He re-joined DRDO in 1982 and was instrumental in launching a series of successful missiles which earned him the tag of ‘Missile Man’. He headed projects associated with Pokhran II nuclear tests as well as the Agni and Prithvi missiles.
He also served as the scientific adviser to the Defence Minister between the years 1992 to 1997and became a Cabinet Minister holding the rank of Principal Scientific Advisor between 1999 to 2001. It was under his inspiring leadership that India conducted many successful nuclear weapon test programme thus elevating him to the position of a nationally lauded hero.
He put forth his vision of making India a super power in his plan Technology Vision 2020, in the year 1998, which was designed to be a 20 years road map for India’s passport to success, where he emphasized on the need to boost agricultural productivity, promote technology as a vehicle for economic growth and a better and wider access to health care and education.
Such was the stature of this man that a country fiercely delineated on religious grounds, found no opposition when he, being a member of the Minority group was nominated to the ceremonial post of the highest ranking official in India, the President in a unanimous gesture by both the ruling NDA party and the opposition.
Kalam, then went on to become the 11th President of free India, in the year 2002. Throughout his tenure he remained committed to using science and technology to transform India into a super power. He also authored several books including his autobiography ‘Wings of Fire’ in 1999, Agni ki Udaan, India 2020, Ignited Minds, Turning Points, A Journey through Challenges.For his immense contribution to the Indian sub-continent, he became the recipient of the country’s highest honors, the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the Bharat Ratna (1997).
He left for his heavenly abode on 27th July,2015 in Shillong and the Indian Prime Minister paid a rich tribute to the legacy of this man by calling him ‘ An exceptional teacher,a wonderful motivator, an outstanding scientist and a great President, Dr. Kalam lives in the hearts and minds of every Indian’.
For his rich and varied contribution to the Indian landscape, he is referred to as the ‘People’s President’. He had a strong bond with children and serves as an inspiring beacon of hope to million Indians who look upto him for his brilliance and eminence.