Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam usually referred as A. P. J.
Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India for the term 2002 to 2007.
Popularly known as the People's President he is the chief brain behind
India's attainment of the nuclear status in the global arena and is
known as the ‘Missile Man of India’ for his work on development of
ballistic missiles and space rocket technology.
Dr. Kalam is one of the most distinguished scientists of India with
the unique honour of receiving honorary doctorates from 40 universities
and institutions. He has been awarded the coveted civilian awards -
Padma Bhushan (1981), Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian
award Bharat Ratna (1997). Dr. Kalam was born on October 15, 1931 in Rameshwaram now Tamil Nadu
in a humble background. His father, Jainaluddin was a boatman, who
earned very little due to which they had to face utter hardship. His
parents were very simple and religious that influenced his lifestyle. He
spent most of his childhood in financial problems and started working
early in his age to supplement family's income.
Since his early childhood days he had great interest in studies and
was keen in gathering knowledge from all parts of the world. He has
been perceived throughout his career to maintain this enthusiasm and
still loves the intellectual discourses whenever he gets time. Dr. Kalam had an unparalleled career as an Aerospace and Defence
Scientist, leading the nation with a vision of "Developed India." A
graduate from the St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli, Kalam studied
aeronautical engineering in the Madras Institute of Technology. After
passing out he joined the Directorate of Technical Development and
Production of the Ministry of Defence.
He was heavily involved in the development of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). Before his term as India's president, he worked as an aeronautical engineer with DRDO and ISRO. Kalam played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974. He was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999. He also gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by progressing multiple development tasks and mission projects such as Light Combat Aircraft.
He is currently the chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science
and Technology, a professor at Anna University (Chennai), a visiting
professor at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Indian Institute
of Management Indore, and an adjunct-visiting faculty at many other
academic and research institutions across India. In 2011, Dr. Kalam
launched his mission called the ‘What Can I Give’ movement.
Dr. Kalam was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Science by
twenty eight universities. He is the recipient of several awards
including the National Design Award. Dr. Biren Roy Space Award; Prof. Y
Nayudamma Memorial Gold Medal (1996): GM Modi Award for Science (1996) :
R K Firodia Award for Excellence in S&T (1996) : Veer Savarkar
Award (1998) : and Indira Gandhi Award for National integration (1997). His four books-"Wings of Fire", "India 2020 - A Vision for the New
Millennium", "My journey" and "Ignited Minds - Unleashing the power
within India" has become a household name in India and as well as
abroad and has been translated in many Indian languages.
In his book ‘India 2020’, Kalam has strongly voiced his opinion to transform India into a knowledge superpower and a developed nation by the year 2020. He regards his work on India's nuclear weapons programme as a way to assert its place as a future superpower. A bachelor Dr. Kalam is an aficionado of classical Carnatic music and plays veena in his leisure. He writes poetry in Tamil, his mother tongue. Seventeen of his poems were translated into English and published in 1994 as a book entitled "My Journey". A strict vegetarian he is an ideal secular Indian and reads Quran and Bhagvad Gita daily with equal devotion.