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Dr A P J Abdul Kalam: A Short Biography

Updated on March 25, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about inspiring people worldwide realize their potential.

Who Was Abdul Kalam?

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam (Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam) was a true patriot, disciplinarian and a visionary. He believed in the potential of his nation, India. He worked for the development of his country, India, throughout his career in various capacities.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Was a Visionary

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Birth and Education

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was born on October 15th, 1931 in Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, a state in south India.

APJ Abdul Kalam Education

He graduated in aeronautical engineering from the Madras University of Technology in the year 1958.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was born in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu.

Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu 623526, India

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Missile Man of India

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was the man behind India's missile program and was popularly known as the "Missile Man of India". He joined DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) in 1958. He served as the chief executive of IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program). He was very much behind development and operationalization of "Agni" and "Prithvi" missiles.

Agni Missile

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Kalam Worked For ISRO

During his tenure at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), he was behind the development of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV - 3). He also served as Scientific Adviser to the Defense Minister, Secretary of Department of Defense Research and Development and Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.

Kalam Was the Head of DRDO When Pokhran-II Was Conducted

It was during his period that Pokhran - 2 (Operation Shakti) tests were conducted successfully by India. India conducted five tests on May 11th and May 13th in the year 1998 at the Pokhran range.

National Technology Day

These tests included five detonations, of which the first was a fusion bomb and the remaining four were fission bombs. India celebrates May 11 as National Technology Day.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Was 11th President of India

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was 11th president of India. He assumed the office on July 25th, 2002 and served the country with dedication from 2002 to 2007. During his tenure as president he was fondly addressed as the "People's president" due to his involvement with the citizens and their issues. He also took active interest in development of science and technology.

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Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Was Honored With 30 Doctorates

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was awarded 30 doctorates from reputed universities all over the world. The government of India honored him with the title of "Padma Bhushan" in the year 1981, "Padma Vibhushan" in 1990 and "Bharatha Rathna" in 1997. He was honored with "Hoover Medal", America's top engineering prize, in the year 2009.

A Teacher at Heart

Once Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s aide Srijan Pal Singh asked him "What do you want to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile man, India 2020, Target 3 billion….What?” Dr Kalam sprung a complete surprise on his aide by replying “Teacher."

Abdul Kalam Autobiography

Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam
Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam

I found this wonderful book to be really inspiring.


An Inspiring Author

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam published many books. "India 2020 - A Vision For The New Millennium" is one of his best sellers. In this book he envisions India to be among the top four nations of the world. He also offers action plan in this book. "My Journey", "Wings of Fire" and "Ignited Minds - Unleashing the Power Within India" are his other popular books. Abdul Kalam books are popular for their inspirational value. He has also written poetry and songs. He served as professor, Technology and Societal Transformation, at Anna University, Chennai.

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Kalam who came from a simple house is an important person for me.. a role model.

— Kamal Haasan, actor, politician, director, screenwriter, producer, playback singer and lyricist

Kalam Inaugurated the Centenary Celebrations of the Pamban Railway Bridge

In 2014 Kalam inaugurated the centenary celebrations of the Pamban railway bridge — India’s first cantilever bridge, connecting the pilgrim-island of Rameswaram with the mainland.

Dr Kalam turned nostalgic as a two-coach special train took him from Mandapam across the bridge. “Pamban bridge is part of my life,” he said. During his childhood years he had travelled hundreds of times on the bridge to take newspapers to the island for distribution.

The former president unveiled a plaque and released a book Marvels of South Indian Railway, marking the inauguration of the nearly month-long celebrations.

Vegetarian By Choice

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was a vegetarian by choice. He preferred to abstain from alcohol.

Morning Walk Was One Of His Favorite Activities

"The morning walk was one activity Dr. Kalam never missed throughout his life. I had the opportunity to join him on a number of occasions. It was his private time, and he generally preferred to do it alone. I understood this, thus I quietly listened to his views on nature for most of the time. My interactions with him during our morning walks started after he moved to Delhi. Of course, it was also a special experience to walk with a person with Z-security, with armed guards moving along with us. This was the time he kept himself totally free from formal thoughts, and spent his time enjoying nature, talking about the flowers and trees.

He used to talk of the rocks of Hyderabad, and the need for green cover. Perhaps he used morning walks to develop his passion for writing poetry, and his ideas for the messages he later conveyed in his books.

I used to enjoy the morning walks with him," said Dr. Srinivasan Sundarrajan, the former director of National Institute of Technology, Trichy, and ex-DRDO scientist, who worked with Dr Kalam for well over two decades.


On July 27 2015, while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong, this great personality collapsed and breathed his last. He was buried with full state honors in his hometown Rameshwaram.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam’s life is an inspiration to humanity.

Abdul Kalam Speech

Abdul Kalam Quotes

Here are some of his many inspirational quotes:

"When you speak, speak the truth. Perform when you promise. Discharge your trust. Withhold your hands from striking and from taking that which is unlawful and bad"

"Thinking is progress. Non thinking is stagnation of the individual, organization and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action, converts adversity into prosperity".

"Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough."

“All Birds find shelter during a rain. But Eagle avoids rain by flying above the Clouds.”

“Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.”

Great men do not die. They live on in the hearts, minds and work of the many that they have inspired.

— Danny Faure

Abdul Kalam Island

This island is off the coast of Odisha in India; approximately 150 km from the state capital Bhubaneshwar. It was originally named after English commandant Lieutenant Wheeler. On 4 September 2015, it was renamed to honour the late Indian president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The Integrated Test Range missile testing facility is located on the island.

Abdul Kalam Island:
Abdul Kalam Island

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Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Centre for Livable Planet Earth and Sustainable Development

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Centre for Livable Planet Earth and Sustainable Development was established as a tribute to the great personality after his sudden demise in 2015.

The Centre was formed to continue on the vision and works of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. It is working in collaboration with many universities and organizations in campaigning research and innovation led projects to propel growth and development, especially for those who are identified as being the base of the pyramid.

With a holistic approach towards development, people at the Centre work towards including all stakeholders of the society that contribute towards creating a sustainable and livable planet earth – the children, the parents, the farmers, the teachers, the neighbors, the local leaders and the national governments, as well as various international partners.

The Center tergets youth as agents of change. Dedicated people working here design projects to create a culture of good citizenship by inculcating the spirit of performing kind acts.

Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam believed that the ignited mind of the youth is the most powerful resource above, on and below the earth. People, at Kalam Centre, create a platform for channelizing the energy of the youth towards imbibing solution oriented thought processes for solving community related issues at the local and the national level.

People at the Center sensitize the community towards nurturing the environment and spreading the messages of conserving it through activities and awareness drives.

Integrating technology, they also enhance the digital literacy skills through their interventions. Taking the dreams of Dr. Kalam forward, they aim to empower by building curiosity, to unite the young minds of the nation and to reignite the passion to do good for the nation and for the world.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Summit

Kalam Centre organizes Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Summit to recognize select individuals and institutions for their exemplary work in improving governance and delivering value to the citizens.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Government Arts and Science College

The Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Government Arts and Science College was established in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, in 2019, in honour of the late Indian President.

Kalam Library

On May 1 2017, the Governor of Maharashtra inaugurated "Kalam Library" at two locations, where reading materials are available mainly for the underprivileged children and youths living in slums.

Kalam Library was inaugurated at Chembur in the suburbs and Colaba in South Mumbai on the occasion of Maharashtra Day, according to a senior associate of the Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Centre, which is managing these facilities.

"These two libraries have been set up with the association of Wockhardt Foundation and I Love Mumbai (both NGOs) in Colaba and Chembur for the underprivileged children and youth living in slums," said a senior program manager of the Kalam Centre.

Dreamathon Campaign

The governor also launched the Dreamathon Campaign in the city by welcoming the 'Missile of Dreams' van to Maharashtra. Highlighting the objective of the campaign, the senior programmer said that the 'Missile of Dreams' will travel all over India, taking entries from one million youth on what is their dream for a better India is and how do they see themselves fulfilling it.

Srijan Pal Singh, CEO of the Abdul Kalam Centre said, "I am very happy to see our Dreamathon Campaign touching so many lives across the country. Through both these initiatives (the library and the campaign), we wish to provide opportunities to young Mumbaikars to make global connections, build bridges between communities through the world of books along with value-based recreational and educational activities."

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University is a public collegiate university in Lucknow. Around 800 colleges are affiliated to this university. The motto of the university is "Excellence in action is yoga".

The university is one of the largest technical universities in Asia. Due its size and the number of colleges affiliated to it and geographic dispersion, it is sub-divided into five zones with 45–50 colleges in each zone for ease of management and facilitating inter-zonal comparison and possible internal competition to enhance quality of teaching-learning processes.

A dipstick study conducted by MeritTrac and UPTU Watch magazine, the engineering talent pool of the university was found to be significantly better than the national average.

The APJ Abdul Kalam University keeps organising programs for the benefit of students residing in the region. In June 2017, more than 9,000 students from Noida and Ghaziabad took part in a two-day Mega Job Fair being organised by the university in its Noida campus in Sector 62 this week. More than 60 companies were invited.

A Space Organism Named After Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

Abdul Kalam Fellowship

Indian Institute of Technology Madras Faculty Prof. Krishnan Balasubramanian was awarded the first Abdul Kalam Technology Innovation National Fellowship by Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) in April 2018.

This prestigious Fellowship was instituted to recognise, encourage and support translational research by individuals who have achieved excellence in engineering, innovation and technology development.

I am glad that INAE and Department of Science and Technology (DST) have instituted this award to recognize the technology innovators in India. I am humbled by this recognition.

- Prof. Krishnan Balasubramanian, Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Head of the Centre for Nondestructive Evaluation.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Prathibha Puraskar Award

In the year 2017, Government of Andhra Pradesh redesignated Prathibha State Level Awards as Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Prathibha Puraskar Award.

The Kalam Vision

On October 15 2018, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dedicated a DRDO website -'The Kalam Vision - Dare to Dream' - to Dr Kalam.

The website was launched on his 87th birth anniversary. It focuses on subjects like artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous systems and cyber security.

It also facilitates an open competition for students and startups. It is available at

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Awards

The National Innovation Foundation, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has constituted the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Awards with an aim to promote creativity and originality in children.

Since 2008, NIF has been organising IGNITE - a national competition of original technological ideas and innovations by children, up to Standard XII or the age of 17 years, in or out of school.

Something Kalam Would Be Proud Of

On Monday, India test-fired the Agni-5 missile from the Integrated Test Range in Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast.


October 15 1931
Graduation (University of Madras)
Graduation (Aerospace Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology)
Joined DRDO
Transferred to ISRO
Project Director (Rohini satellite launch)
Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister
President of India
July 27 2015
Bharat Ratna

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.

— Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

© 2017 Srikanth R


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