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A.P.J Abdul Kalam- The Missile Man Of India

Updated on July 29, 2015

Childhood And Education :

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam commonly known as A.P.J Abdul Kalam , the 11th president of India passed away on July 27,2015 in Shillong, Meghalaya, India due to cardiac arrest. Though he is not between us now but India will never forget his contributions towards his nation, India.Due to his contribution to the missile development and launch vehicle in India he is called by the name "Missile man of India" . Let us pay homage to our former president by remembering him and his journey from being a child in a poor family in India to being the president of India.

A.P.J Abdul Kalam was born on October 15,1931 to a poor Tamil Muslim family in Rameshwaram ,India. His father's name was Jainulabudeen and mother's name was Ashiamma. His mother was a housewife while his father owned a boat and use to take passengers between Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi. The income of the family was solely dependent on his father which was not enough to meet the family's requirement so
he started working at very early age to support his family. He had done his schooling from Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation school . His grades in school were average but he was told to be a very hard working student. After completing his school he started distributing newspapers in local areas to support his father. Later he took admission in Saint Joseph's College,Tiruchirappalli ,India from where he graduated in physics in 1954. After his graduation he moved to madras and took admission in Madras Institute of Technology where he studied Aerospace engineering. During his engineering period ,the dean of college ,dissatisfied with
his performance warned him that if he didn't submitted his project within 3 days then his scholarship will be terminated. Kalam requested for at least a month to which the dean refused.But due to his strong will power and dedication he anyhow successfully completed his project within 3 days for which he was greatly praised by the dean. Kalam wanted to become a fighter pilot in Indian Air Force . He qualified every test of Indian Air Force (IAF) but at last due to shortage of seats he was not selected and has to drop his dream. He was a man of iron who never lost hope and believed in his caliber . Gradually time went on and who had thought that he would become one of the greatest scientist India ever had , honored by the highest civilian award of India i.e Bharat Ratna and become the 11th president of India. It is no doubt that he is a role model to many scientists ,youth, adults in India and abroad.

Prithvi Missile

Agni Missile


After graduating from college he joined Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO),India where he worked as a scientist and was also a part of Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) that worked under the renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. INCOSPAR was later turned into ISRO in 1969. In early 1970s ISRO started to work on the technology to launch satellites. Kalam was made the project director for India's first satellite launch vehicle which was named SLV-III. The first satellite launched from SLV-III was Rohini in 1979 which proved unsuccessful and crashed into Bay of Bengal after around 5 -6 minutes of launching.The second satellite Rohini RS-1 was launched in 1980 and successfully managed to reach the orbit. After that 2 more satellite namely Rohini RS-D1 and Rohini RS-D2 were launched in 1981 and 1983 respectively.During the same year Kalam also started
working on Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) along with other scientists under ISRO which was successfully developed and used to launch Indian Remote Sensing satellites(IRS). Till 2014 PSLV has launched 71 satellites of which 31 are Indian satellites and 40 are foreign satellites. Kalam worked as a project director of Project Devil and Project Valiant which were aimed to develop short-range surface-to-air ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic
missiles respectively . Project Devil along with Project Valiant successfully lead to the development of Prithvi missile in 1980s. Kalam was invited to witness India first nuclear bomb (Pokhran-I) test in 1974 as a representative of Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) which worked under DRDO. During 1982-2008 Kalam worked as Chief Executive in Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) which was majorly headed by DRDO along with other government organizations. IGMDP successfully lead to the development of missiles like Prithvi,Akash,Trishul, Agni etc. From 1992-1999 Kalam worked as the secretary of the DRDO and the chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister of India. In 1997 Kalam received India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna for his service to India. Apart from Bharat Ratna he was also honored with many other awards like honorary doctorate award,IEEE honorary membership,Hoover medal,doctor of engineering award,doctor of science award,King Charles II medal,Padma Bhushan,Padma Vibhushan etc.
Kalam won the 2002 president election in India and became the 11th president of India an his presidency lasted for 2007. Both Samajwadi party and Nationalist Congress Party took back their candidates and supported Kalam to won the election. Kalam received more than 9 lakh votes and won very easily. He was the 3rd president of India who has been honoured with Bharat Ratna. After his presidency was over in 2012 he became a guest professor in IIM Shillong, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Indore, chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram, professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna
University etc.He was nominated for the MTV youth icon of the year award in 2003 and 2006.In 2011. Bollywood made a film portraying the life of Kalam called "I Am Kalam".

Other Notable Works:

Apart from being a scientist ,professor,president etc Kalam was also an excellent writer.He wrote numerous books on motivation,development etc which became very successful. His popular books includes:

1.India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium: This book focuses on the strength and weakness of India and how it can be transformed to come under the First Four economic powers of the world by the year 2020.

2. Wings Of Fire: This book is an autobiography of Kalam. This book details about his early life, hardships,efforts and eventually becoming one of the most successful scientist India ever had. This book is full of motivation and strongly recommended to every person in the world.

3. Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India: This books is full of inspirational messages from India's former president A.P.J Abdul Kalam. This book contains ideas for rapid growth of India to realize India's dream of becoming a developed country. This book is highly recommended to the youth of India.

4.Target 3 Billion: This book focuses on the problems faced by the rural India and suggests method to improve the standard of living in India.

5.Envisioning an Empowered Nation: This book focuses on the use of technology for transforming India into a developed nation by the year 2020.

Some Inspirational Quotes By A.P.J Abdul Kalam:

1."If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher."

2."We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage."

3."My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people."

4."Unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. In this world, fear has no place. Only strength respects strength."

5. "Let me define a leader. He must have vision and passion and not be afraid of any problem. Instead, he should know how to defeat it. Most importantly, he must work with integrity."


Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam died on July 27,2015. On 27 July, Kalam was delivering a lecture on " The Liviable Planet Earth" at IIM Shillong,India where he suddenly collasped at around 6:30 p.m. He was immediately rushed to Bethania Hospital where he was declared dead. The cause for his death was due to a big cardiac arrest.Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi expressed his grief by saying "his death is a great loss to the scientific community. He took India to great heights. He showed the way." Various other countries also expressed their grief on passing of A.P.J Abdul Kalam. Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala said "Nepal has lost a good friend and I have lost an honoured and ideal personality." Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed his grief by saying Kalam "a rare combination of a great statesman, acclaimed scientist and a source of inspiration to the young generation of South Asia". Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan called Kalam "an inspirational figure to millions of people," and "we
have a lot to learn from his life." Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay expressed his grief by saying Kalam "was a leader greatly admired by all people, especially the youth of India who have referred to him as the people’s President." The President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, expressed his grief by saying "Dr. Kalam was a man of firm conviction and indomitable spirit, and I saw him as an outstanding statesman of the world. His death is an irreparable loss not only to India but to the entire world." etc and many other countries also expressed condolences on his passing.


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