In 2006, he created history by becoming the country's first President to undertake an undersea journey. Abdul Kalam boarded the INS Sindhurakshak from the Vishakapatnam Naval dockyard. In the same year he again created history by becoming the first president to undertake a military ship in a fighter aircraft, a Sukhoi-30 MKI, from Lohegaon (Pune) airbase. As a 74-year old, he created a record by becoming the oldest Indian co-pilot to do so.
Career of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Abdul Kalam graduated from St. Joseph's College, Thiruchirapalli and received his degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1958. After graduation he joined India's Defence Research and Development Organisation to work on a hovercraft project. In 1962, Kalam moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), where his team successfully launched several satellites. He made a significant contribution as Project Director to develop India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle which successfully placed the Rohini space satellite into near earth orbit in July 1980. In 1982, Kalam returned to DRDO as Director, focusing on Indigenous guided missiles. He was responsible for the development and operationalisation of the "AGNI" and "PRITHVI" missiles. This earned him the sobriquet “India's Missile Man”. He also helped in the formulation of healthcare products using technology developed for missiles.
In July 1992, Kalam became a Scientific Advisor to India's Defence Minister. As the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Indian government, he held the rank of a Cabinet Minister. His work led to the successful Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, which reiterated India's position as a nuclear weapon state. Kalam was also the Chairman, Ex-officio, of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet and piloted the "India Millennium Mission 2020". Kalam later took up academia as a Professor of Technology and Societal Transformation at Anna University, Chennai from November 2001 and was involved in teaching and research tasks. Above all, he took up a mission to ignite the young minds for national development by meeting young school students across the country. Kalam was elected the 11th President of India and took office on July 25, 2002.
Honours of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Kalam had the unique distinction of having received honorary doctorates from at least 30 Universities, as also Indias 3 highest civilian honours the "Padma Bhushan" in 1981, the "Padma Vibhushan" in 1990 and the "Bharat Ratna" in 1997. He had refused an honorary doctorate from a University, stating he was satisfied with the ones he had earned with his hard work and determination. As a sign of his popularity among Indian youth, MTV-India nominated him as one of the prospects for its MTV India Youth Icon for the year 2006 Award. Dr. Kalams 79th birthday was recognised as World Student Day by the United Nations. In 2005, Switzerland declared 26 May as "Science Day" to commemorate Kalams visit to the country.
Works of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Dr. Kalams book "India 2020" strongly advocates an action plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and into a developed nation by the year 2020. His perspectives on important topics have been enunciated by him in this book. Kalam is credited with the view that India ought to take a more assertive stand in international relations. He regards his work on Indias nuclear weapons program as a way to assert Indias place as a future superpower. Kalam continued to take an active interest in other developments in the field of science and technology as well. Kalam had written several inspirational books, most notably his autobiography "Wings of Fire", aimed at motivating Indian youth. Another of his books, "Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life" reveals his spiritual side.
Personal Life of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Abdul Kalam came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his familys income. After completing school, Kalam distributed newspapers to contribute to his fathers income. Popular with children and young people, Kalam engaged the youth by reaching out to them through lectures and public interactions. While studying at the Madras Institute of Technology, he used to head the vegetarian mess despite being a Muslim himself. Kalam observed strict personal discipline, practicing vegetarianism, teetotalism (abstinence from intoxicating drinks) and celibacy. Kalam used to read "Bhagavad Gita". Initially he wanted to become a pilot, but was rejected and then opted for aeronautical engineering later. He also led a frugal life, which was reflected during his stay in the stately Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Kalam died of a massive cardiac arrest on the evening of 27 July 2015 after he collapsed while delivering a lecture on Livable Planet at Indian Institute of Management Shillong.
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