Abdul Kalam birthday: From Missile Man to People’s President, Remembering APJ Abdul Kalam’s life journey

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New Delhi | Published: October 15, 2019 2:19:48 PM

APJ Abdul Kalam's love for students is reflected best in his own words: "Dream, Dream, Dream, Dreams transform into thoughts. And thoughts result in action."

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October 15 is a very special day in Indian history. It was on this day in the year 1931 that Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President who made India a missile and nuclear power, was born in Rameswaram. A great scientist, who saw the dream to make India a developed nation, was considered the father of the country’s missile programme. He played multifarious roles of scientist, President, dedicated teacher and an educator.

In recognition of former President’s love for students and education, United Nations announced October 15 as World Students’ Day to commemorate on his birth anniversary.

APJ Abdul Kalam’s love for students is reflected best in his own words: “Dream, Dream, Dream, Dreams transform into thoughts. And thoughts result in action.”

His impeccable wisdom finds a voice in his advise to students when he said, “If you fail, never give up because FAIL means ‘first attempt in learning’.”

Kalam was closely involved in the country’s civilian space programme and took military missile development efforts. His landmark achievements in making the country’s space programme a success earned him the title of ‘Missile Man of India’.

After completing his graduation from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam designed a helicopter for Indian Army and began his career as a scientist and science administrator at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and later at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He served as the president for five years from 2002.

On the one hand, Kalam successfully headed India’s major space programme to deploy Rohini satellite in orbit while on the other, he directed projects for the development of ballistic missiles. He later became chief executive of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and oversaw its ending in 2008 after strategic missiles Agni and Prithvi were successfully developed.

APJ Abdul Kalam also served as the chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister and the secretary of the DRDO from July 1992 to December 1999. During this period, Kalam played a pivotal role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Kalam also explored applications of defence and aerospace technology in saving human lives. In 1994, the Kalam-Raju stent was made from surgical-grade stainless steel and paved the way for the production of new-generation stents in India.

APJ Abdul Kalam succeeded the then President of India KR Narayanan and served his full-term from 2002 to 2007. After completing his tenure, he returned to what he loved the most: teaching and writing. Wings of Fire: An Autobiography and Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power within India are the most popular books written by him. He learnt to play the veena and also wrote poetry in Tamil.

He received several prestigious awards, including India’s highest civilian honour the Bharat Ratna in 1997, Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990.

He passed away due to cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture to the students of IIM Shillong on July 27, 2015.

From humble beginnings to the top post in the country, Kalam is the true role model for students and the country’s youth.

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