Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Rameshwaram’s Illustrious Son: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

All birds find shelter during a rain.

But the eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds.

Problems are common, but attitude

Makes the difference

His early life

The 11th President of India, Abul Pakir Janinulabudeen Abdul Kalam, was born and brought up in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu. He was the youngest of the five children to a Muslim boat owner, named Jainulabudeen. His mother’s name was Ashiamma. Abdul Kalam had the most humble upbringing owing to his father’s meager income. He had to assist his father financially at a very young age. He distributed newspapers door to door. He had always been a very bright student, thirsty for knowledge and eager to learn. The financial hurdles could never mar his eagerness to do great things. After completing matriculate from Ramathpuram Schwartz Matriculation School, he went on studying physics at St. Joseph’s College, Thiruchirapalli and then studied aerospace engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.

Kalam’s Achievements

After completing his education, from MIT, Dr. Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). Kalam was also a part of the INCOSPAR committee and he worked under Vikram Sarabhai, the space scientist. In the year 1969, APJ Abdul Klam was project director of India’s very first satellite launch Vehicle (SVL-III). Dr. Kalam started his work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO. In the years 1963-64, Kalam went to NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia and also the famous Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Despite a lot of opposition from the Union cabinet, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi continued to fund aerospace projects under the leadership of Abdul Kalam. Kalam played a major role in the development and launch of many missiles. He was in-charge of many projects during this time. In his autobiographical work, Wings of Fire, Kalam recounts how his work had been criticized by the media and the country. The mismanagement of the organization led to the failure of the missions which obviously meant a great loss of national finance. This criticism was difficult to bear with most obviously. However, the projects undertaken in the leadership of Abdul Kalam include, the Integrated Guided Missile Program, Agni and Prithvi. Dr.. Kalam served as a Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. He also played a crucial role in the Pokhran-II nuclear tests that were conducted during his time. Kalam also served as Chief Project Coordinator with Rjagopala Chidambaram. He was according to media coverage, the best known scientist in the country.

The People’s President

In the year 2002, Kalam was elected the 11th President of India. He won with a majority of 922,884 votes, defeating Lakshmi Sahgal. He was the president till 2007. APJ Abdul Kalam authored several books, the first one being India 2020 (1998) and Wings of Fire in 1999. This was followed by Ignited Minds (2002), He wrote several books in collaboration with other renowned writers, Turning Points, Inspiring Thoughts, Reignited, Target 3 billion etc. He has been greatly loved by the people of the country, casually known as the ‘People’s President’. A motivational speaker, Mr. Kalam has been looked up to as the most inspiring personality ever.


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