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Little did Jainulabdeen and Ashiamma know that their son would grow up to be the first

citizen of India. An Indian scientist and administrator, Kalam served as the 11th President
of India from 2002 until 2007. One amongst the most respected people of the country,
Kalam contributed immensely both as a scientist and as a president. His contribution at
the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was immense. He was responsible for
numerous projects such as Project Devil and Project Valiant and launch of the Rohini-1,
besides developing missiles under the missions Agni and Prithvi. For the same, he was
popularly tagged as the Missile Man of India. Kalam was honored with great laurels and
awards for his work by both the Government of India and other countries. After
completing his term as President, Kalam served as a visiting professor in various
esteemed institutes and universities of India.
Childhood & Early Life

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born to Jainulabdeen and Ashiamma on October 15,
1931. He came from a family whose financial conditions werent sound
enough. As a means to support his familys meagre income, Kalam took up
odd jobs in his childhood but never gave up on his education.

He graduated from Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli in 1954 but not


satisfied with his degree, he left for Madras later next year to study aerospace
engineering. He enrolled at the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT).

Career

After graduating from MIT, Kalam took up the position of chief scientist at the
Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defense Research and
Development Organization (DRDO). However, the profile didnt appeal Kalam
much who shifted to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he
was the project director of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle.

His years at the ISRO were the most crucial ones, as they left a lasting impact
on him. Kalam lead many projects and turned out to be successful each time.

In the 1970s, Kalam directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project
Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the
successful SLV programme.

A milestone was achieved when locally built Rohini-1 was launched into space,
using the SLV rocket. Upon watching the raving success of Kalam, the
government agreed for initiation of an advanced missile program under his
directorship. He played a pivotal role in developing missiles under the
missions Agni and Prithvi.

Kalam was the Chief Executive of the Integrated Guided Missile Development
Program (I.G.M.D.P) which researched in simultaneous development of a
quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one by one.

From 1992 until 1999, Kalam was appointed as the Chief Scientific Adviser to
the Prime Minister and the Secretary of Defence Research and Development
Organisation. It was during this time that Kalam served as the Chief Project
Coordinator for Pokhran II nuclear tests, after which he was fondly called the
Missile Man of India.

Kalam succeeded K. R. Narayan to serve as the 11th President of India from


2002 until 2007. It was a highly one-sided contest. With his appointment,
Kalam became the first scientist and first ever bachelor to occupy the
Rastrapati Bhawan.

During his tenure as a President, Kalam was both appreciated and criticised.
The latter was mostly due to his inaction in deciding the fate of 20 mercy
petitioners.

In addition to all the profiles that Dr Kalam held, he authored numerous


influential and inspirational books. Amongst all his books, India 2020 was
the widely read and appreciated one. It forecast an action plan which
advocated India turning into a knowledge superpower and as one of the
developed nations of the world by the year 2020. His other books include,
Ignited Minds, Mission India, Inspiring Thoughts and The Luminous
Sparks.

In 2011, he launched his mission for the youth of the nation called the What
Can I Give Movement with the main aim to defeat corruption in India.

After completing his term as President, Dr Kalam served as visiting professor


in various esteemed institutes and universities of India, such as Indian
Institute of Management Ahmedabad and Indore. He also served as Chancellor
of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram,
Aerospace Engineering at Anna University (Chennai), JSS University (Mysore).

Awards & Achievements

Kalam was the proud recipient of Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and
Bharat Ratna awards from the Government of India. He received the same in
the years 1981, 1990 and 1997, respectively.

In 1997, he was honored by the Government of India with the Indira Gandhi
Award for National Integration.

Later, the next year, he was awarded the Veer Savarkar Award by the
Government of India.

The Alwars Research Centre, Chennai, bestowed Kalam with Ramanujan Award
in the year 2000.

Kalam was honored with the King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society, U.K in
2007.

In 2008, he won the Hoover Medal given by ASME Foundation, USA.

In 2008, he won the Hoover Medal given by ASME Foundation, USA.

The California Institute of Technology, U.S.A, presented Kalam with the


International von Karman Wings Award in the year 2009.

The IEEE honored Kalam with IEEE Honorary Membership in 2011.

Kalam was the proud recipient of honorary doctorates from 40 universities.

In addition to this, Kalam's 79th birthday was recognised as World Students'


Day by United Nations.

He was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and in
2006.

Personal Life & Legacy

Dr A.P.J. Kalam remained unmarried throughout his life.

Dr Abdul Kalam passed away at Bethany Hospital, Shillong, Meghalaya, due to


heart failure after having collapsed during a lecture at Indian Institute of
Management, Shillong.

Top 10 Facts You Did Not Know About A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam grew up in poverty and distributed newspapers as a young


boy to contribute to his fathers meager income.

He was a protg of the great Indian scientist Dr. Vikram Sarabhai who guided
him and gave him valuable advice.

He always faced the press following failed tests at ISRO and accepted
responsibility for his mistakes but never claimed the credit for any of the
massive successes achieved at the organization.

He was the first bachelor to become the president and occupy Rashtrapati
Bhawan.

Kalam was the third President of India to have been honored with a Bharat
Ratna before being elected to the office of President.

He was known to write his own thank you cards with personalized messages in
his own handwriting.

He was a scholar of Thirukkural (a classic of couplets or Kurals) and was


known to quote at least one couplet in most of his speeches.

He had a keen interest in literature and wrote poems in his native Tamil.

A practicing Muslim, he was also well versed with Hindu traditions and read
the Bhagavad Gita.

He had more than a million followers on Twitter but followed only 38 people.