DR.A.P.J ABDUL KALAM
"Failure will never go beyond me if my willpower to achieve something is strong and satisfactory."
Some life stories are not just great but are inspiration stories for the world. Few people die, but their great morals and names never leave the world; APJ Abdul Kalam is one of them. The greatest scientist of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, was the former President of India and played a major role in developing weapon sciences such as missiles and nuclear weapons in India. His full name was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam; he was a member of DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and was named the "Missile Man of India".
Inspiration for thousands of students, Abdul Kalam, was honoured with "Bharat Ratna". He dedicated his entire life to the field of Science and Technology. Kalam was elected as India's 11th President of India in 2002, and during his entire tenure, he was known as the "People's President". After working as President for 5 years, He went back to the field of Science and took many lectures, met young students, and inspired them. Even when he took his last breath in Shillong at the age of 83, he delivered a lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology Shillong.
His Early Life
Kalam was born in a low-income family on 15 October 1931 in the Hindu pilgrim centre Pambam Island Rameshwaram, India. His father, Jainulabdeen Marakayar, was the holder of a ferryboat that travelled the way between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi (now an abundant village) and worked as Imam at the local mosque. In contrast, his mom, Ashiamma, was a housewife. They all belonged to a Tamil Muslim family, and Kalam was the youngest among four brothers and one sister.
Kalam's family belonged to a very rich merchant community, "Marakayar Traders", and had rich ancestors. Yet, his family loosed their luck by 1920; their trade between two countries, India and Srilanka, was unsuccessful and made them this poor that they had nothing except for their ancestor's home when Kalam was born. At a small age, he had to vend newspapers so that he could help his family in earning. Kalam started going to school in Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram. He was an average student in school but loved studying math and other subjects and had a strong wish to learn.
His College Life
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam took admission to Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, which was affiliated with Madras University, and graduated in Physics. Later he moved to Madras and took admission to the Madras University of Technology in Aerospace Engineering in 1955. While he was working on the project at the university, his Dean went angry with him and gave him only a 3-day deadline to complete the work that he had done, which made him happy.
Kalam as a Scientist
After completing his degree at the Madras University of Technology in 1960, he joined DRDO in Aeronautics Development Establishment as a scientist. He designed a small aircraft as the first scientific work of his career. Still, as he wasn't satisfied with his job, he also started working in other places like the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, well known Indian Scientist.
In 1963 Kalam Joined the Indian Space Research Organization as the Project Director of India's First Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III), which effectively launched the Rohini Satellite to near-earth orbit in 1980.
In 1965 he started working independently on a rocket project in Defense Research and Development Organization, and after 4 years, he got approval from the government and added more engineers to it. From 1963 to 1964, he went to NASA's Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia. Also, he visited Goddard Space flight centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the wallops flight facility.
In the year 1970, he got an invitation from Raja Ramanna to be the observer of India's First Nuclear Test named Smiling Buddha as the representative of Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory even when he wasn't part of its development. In the same year, he directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, in which he wanted to build up Missiles with the help of SLV program technology. While developing them, Kalam Faced an issue when Union Cabinet disapproved it. Still, later, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi provided him with a secret fund for this project which was under Kalam's directorship. Kalam convinced the Union Cabinet that they would hide the true nature of these secret aerospace projects.
In the years between 1970 - and 1990, Kalam worked to build-up the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects. They both were successful and powerful projects. In 1980, he was powerful enough that the Government was ready to initiate an advanced missiles project under his directorship. Later under the direction of Defense minister R.Venkataraman, he started working on Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) with a budget of 3.88 billion as a Chief Executive. Later he took part in the development of many missiles, including "Agni" and "Prithvi", but a few disliked the project due to the misconduct, price, and taking further time. In July 1992, Kalam became the Head Scientific Advisor of the Prime Minister and as well the Secretary of DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization). He was Chief Project Coordinator for the Pokhran-II nuclear test, and he got the title of "Best nuclear scientist" by the media. Kalam was criticised by the director of the site K Santhanam that the thermonuclear had been a fizzle, and he issued an incorrect report.
Life as President and Post Presidency
In 2002, Kalam was chosen as the 11th President of India. He was chosen as a candidate for Presidency; he and NDA both were popular and in power at that time; all other candidates backed him, so it was a clear win for him. On 25 July, Kalam moved to Rashtrapati Bhavan after taking the oath.
As a President, APJ Abdul Kalam made many tough decisions and was loved by people. He also won the label of "People's President". The toughest judgment of his life was when he signed an office of Profit Bill. He was criticised when he accepted the mercy plead of 20 people out of 21, but the one he rejected was guilty of rape. One petition he delayed was of Afzal Guru, who was accused of the December 2001 Parliament Attacks but later in 2014, he was hung. A different argument his decision caught was of striking President's Rule in Bihar in 2005 for a week.
He also supported that India needed Uniform Civil Code in 2003 at PGI Chandigarh; In 2007, he first decided to stand again in an election where the chance of his winning was at its peak, but he refused to participate again in elections after 2 days. Pratibha Patel won the elections as the First Female President of India.
After leaving the Presidency, he started working as a visiting professor in many colleges, such as the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Ahmadabad, and Indore. He worked in many other positions and as a Professor in various colleges and universities.
In 2011, he was again in the news in media when he got criticism for his Koodankulam Nuclear PowerPoint for not talking to the local public. In 2012, to avoid corruption, he started a youth program named What Can I Give Movement.
Kalam as a Writer
APJ Abdul Kalam was a great teacher, favourite Leader, and a great scientist, but apart from these things, there is one more achievement he is well known for "his writings". Here is a list of books by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in his career to inspire people.
In his book India 2020, he mentioned a plan to maintain India as a Superpower in 2020, and fortunately, India was known as a Superpower in 2020. Whereas Transcendence is written on all the spiritual experiences he had with Pramukh Swami, and this book was published just a month before his death.
His Personal Life
APJ Abdul Kalam was a very simple person; he was the youngest sibling of 5 and never even had a television at home. He preferred waking up early at 6:30 or 7:00 am and never was in any controversy because of his personal life. He lived his life as simple as possible. Only personal belongings to him had been a Veena, his books, a laptop, some clothes, and a CD player. When he died, he had no will, and all his possessions went to his brother.
His Love for Spirituality and Religion
Being a follower of Islam, he followed daily Namaz and fasted during the month of Ramzan. Still, since his childhood, his dad taught him both proper faith in Islam and believing and respecting all religions. He told himself that when he was a child, his dad was a Muslim Imam, Head Priest of Ramanathaswami Hindu temple, and a Church Priest was used to sit together and discuss things. These things gave birth to the feeling of secularism inside him. He read Quran, and on the other hand, he learned Sanskrit and read Bhagwan Geeta. He was a vegetarian and loved to play devotional music. Kalam used to write Tamil Poetries and play the Veena.
Kalam was the follower of a Hindu Guru, Pramukh Swami, as he found him spiritual and sacred, according to him as he mentioned in his book "Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji".
Kalam went to Shillong to the Indian Institute of Technology to take a lecture on "Creating a Livable Planet Earth" on the 27th of July, 2015. While getting down the stairs, he felt little uneasiness, but he still went to the auditorium after taking little rest. At around 6:35, he collapsed down, and it was just 5 minutes of his lecture. He was taken to the "Bethany Hospital" in critical condition; there was a lack of pulses, and he had no sign of life. When he was in ICU (Intense Care Unit), he has confirmed dead due to Cardiac Arrest at 7:45 pm. His last words were to his assistant and a famous author Srijan Pal Singh, "Funny Guy, Are you doing well?"
After his death, his body was taken to the Guwahati from the Shillong by the Indian Air Force through helicopter and then to New Delhi by an Air Force C-130J Hercules on the 28th morning. In the afternoon, the flight was received by the President, Vice president, Prime Minister, and Chief Minister of Delhi (At that time, Arvind Kejriwal). All the Chiefs of the three forces (Air Force, Navy, and Army) were also there to show their respect.
His body was wrapped in the Indian Flag and taken out into his residence in Delhi. Many public figures and many well-known personalities, such as Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Head Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister, were waiting there for his body.
On the 29th Morning, His body was taken to Palam Airbase and went to Mathurai by Air Force aircraft C-130J. In Mathurai, all state dignitaries and chiefs of three forces received his body. After a huge ceremony, he was taken to his hometown at Rameshwaram and kept on an open ground allowing civilians till 8 pm to pay him respect. On 30 July 2015, the Journey of this amazing person ended at the age of 83 when his body was laid to rest at Rameswaram's Pei Karumbu Ground with full honours. Over 3.5 lakh people attend his funeral, including the Prime Minister, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala.
His death was huge grief for entire India, and people's reactions to his death are not forgetful. Millions of people paid tribute to him on social media, and the Government of India declared a 7-day State Mourning period as the respect. The President, Prime Minister, and Vice president all showed their respect and pain on his death, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his death was a great loss for our country's science community. He also said the country is going to remember his achievement for generations and keep taking their inspiration from him.
Awards and Honors
There is no award for what Kalam did for our country. His achievements are numerous and irreplaceable, but he has been bestowed with many awards and honours.
He got 7 Doctorate Honorary Degrees from various Universities, which are given below-
In 1981, he was honoured with Padma Bhusan by the Government of India, and in 1990, he was honoured with Padam Vibhushan by the Indian Government. But neither did he stop working for India, nor the Indian Government forgets to praise his work. Hence, in 1997 he got the National Honour of "Bharat Ratna" from the Indian Government and Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration the same year by Government. Veer Savarkar Award was also awarded him in 1998.
In 2000, Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy honoured him with the "Sastra Ramanujan Prize", whereas, in 2013, he won Von Braun Award from the National Space Society.
After his death, many Governments made changes in the names of educational institutes or started new programs, which are mentioned below-
Memorial for APJ Abdul Kalam
In Pei Karambu, an island in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu DRDO built APJ Abdul Kalam National Memorial. There is a display of a replica of missiles and rockets, which Kalam worked on. There are many Statutes of Kalam with a big statue of Kalam playing the Veena, and many paintings of his life are there.