Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, or A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as known to all was the 11th President of the world’s largest democracy i.e. India. He was born on 15th October 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. His life story serves as an inspiration to all as he was born to a poor family but went on to become the country’s president.

He graduated from Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli in Physics on 1954 and specialized in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1957. Dr. Kalam is a pioneer in fibre glass technology and led a young team to initiate this effort in ISRO from design, development leading to production of composites rocket motor cases. Dr. Kalam made significant contribution as Project Director to develop India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) which successfully injected the Rohini satellite in the near earth orbit in July 1980 and made India an exclusive member of Space Club. He was responsible for the evolution of ISRO’s launch vehicle programme, particularly the PSLV configuration. After working for two decades in ISRO and mastering launch vehicle technologies, Dr. Kalam took up the responsibility of developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at Defence Research and Development Organization as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He was responsible for the development and operationalization of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions. One of his significant contributions was creating Research Centre Imarat for advanced technologies. He was the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999. During this period he led to the weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in collaboration with Department of Atomic Energy, which made India a nuclear weapon State. He also gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by progressing multiple development tasks and mission projects such as Light Combat Aircraft.


Dr. Kalam took up academic pursuit as Professor, Technology & 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 school students across the country. During the last decade, Dr. Kalam has addressed over five million youth below the age of 17 and inspired them to become an active participant of India Vision 2020.

Dr. Kalam is one of the most distinguished scientists of India with the unique honour of receiving honorary doctorates from 48 Universities and institutions from India and abroad. The Honorary Doctorates include, Nyenrode Business University, Netherlands; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg USA; University of Wolverhampton, UK; University of Kentucky, USA; Oakland University, Michigan USA; University of Waterloo, Canada; University Sans Malaysia, Malaysia University of Sydney, Australia and the Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was not only respected for his works and doctorates but also for his down to earth nature and love for mankind. Dr. Abdul Kalam was a President who delayed his departure when he realized it was school closing time and students will be desperate to go back to their homes. Switzerland has declared May 26 as the Science Day in honour of visiting President APJ Abdul Kalam.

The whole world misses the “Missile Man” on his birthday and promises to work hard as Dr. Abdul Kalam himself said “Don’t declare a holiday on my death, instead work an extra day”. The void created by his departure can never be filled.

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