On this day in 2015, the nation mourned the loss of a remarkable individual – APJ Abdul Kalam, affectionately known as the ‘Missile Man’ and ‘People’s President.’ Dr Kalam’s sudden demise due to a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture to students at the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong left the entire country grieving.
Today, eight years after his passing, his legacy continues to inspire millions of people worldwide. In this article, we will delve into the extraordinary life and contributions of this eminent scientist, President, and an exceptional human being.
Early Life and Humble Beginnings of APJ Abdul Kalam
Born on October 15, 1931, in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, to Jainulabdeen and Ashiamma, APJ Abdul Kalam was the youngest among five siblings. Coming from a financially challenged family, young Kalam had to support them by distributing newspapers while pursuing his studies. However, even amidst struggles, his passion for aerospace and science started to shine.
Education and the Journey to Becoming a Scientist
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s fascination with aeroplanes, rockets, and space led him to pursue a Physics degree at St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. He later completed aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology, which laid the foundation for his illustrious career in rocket and missile technology.
In 1969, he joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and made significant contributions to establishing India’s rocket launch systems. Notably, he was the project director for SLV-3, which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-Earth orbit, putting India in the prestigious Space Club.
The Missile Man of India
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s dedication and expertise in ballistic missiles and launch technology earned him the title of the ‘Missile Man of India.’ He played a pivotal role in the development of various missiles like Agni, Trishul, Akash, and Nag. In 1998, he served as the Chief Scientific Advisor during the Pokhran-II nuclear tests, further solidifying India’s position in the field of defense technology.
People’s President and Inspirational Leader
In 2002, Dr Abdul Kalam became India’s 11th President, and his term was marked by his warm and approachable demeanor. He had a special affinity for interacting with the youth and often traveled across the country to engage with students and answer their questions. He was lovingly referred to as ‘The People’s President.’
Visionary Contributions and Innovations
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was not only a brilliant scientist but also a visionary leader who wanted to bring progress to rural areas. He introduced the PURA (Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) model, aiming to bridge the urban-rural divide and improve livelihood prospects in rural communities.
He collaborated with Dr Soma Raju to develop the ‘Kalam-Raju Stent,’ an affordable coronary stent that made healthcare accessible to all. Additionally, he and his team designed lightweight artificial callipers for polio-stricken children, enhancing their mobility and comfort.
A Lifelong Educator and Author
Throughout his life, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam remained dedicated to education. He served as a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University and held several esteemed positions in educational institutions across the country.
Besides his exceptional career, Dr Kalam was also an accomplished author, sharing his wisdom and vision through various books like “India 2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium,” “Wings of Fire: An Autobiography,” “Ignited Minds – Unleashing the Power Within India,” and more.
The End of an Era
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s birth anniversary, October 15, is celebrated as Youth Renaissance Day in Tamil Nadu, honoring his impact on the young minds of the nation. The United Nations declared October 15 as ‘World Students Day’ in recognition of his global influence.
On July 27, 2015, while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong, Dr Kalam collapsed on stage and passed away at the age of 83. His departure left a void that cannot be filled, but his spirit and legacy continue to live on in the hearts of people around the world.
APJ Abdul Kalam Favorite Quotes
- “We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to this fire and fill the world with the glow of its goodness.”
- “Once your mind stretches to a new level it never goes back to its original dimension”
- “To succeed in life and achieve results, you must understand and master three mighty forces— desire, belief, and expectation.”
- “If you want to leave your footprints On the sands of time Do not drag your feet.”
- “If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.”
- “To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.”
- “A big shot is a little shot who keeps on shooting, so keep trying.”
- “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
- Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.
- “I am not handsome but I can give my hand to someone who needs help… Because beauty is required in the heart, not in the face….”
- “Sometimes, it’s better to bunk a class and enjoy with friends, because now, when I look back, marks never make me laugh, but memories do.”
- “God has not promised Skies always blue, Flower-strewn pathways All our life through; God has not promised Sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, Peace without pain.”
- “I have repeatedly seen how people are poor at articulating what they want—until they see a work centre doing something they don’t want them to do.”
- “There are boundaries that dictate life: you can only lift so much weight; you can only learn so fast; you can only work so hard; you can only go so far!”
- “Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.”
APJ Abdul Kalam’s life journey is a testament to the power of dedication, hard work, and a never-ending passion for making a difference. From a humble beginning to becoming a revered scientist and President, he inspired generations to dream big and work towards realizing those dreams. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s impact on science, education, and the hearts of people remains unparalleled. He will forever be remembered as the ‘Missile Man’ and the ‘People’s President,’ a true hero who continues to guide and motivate us even today.
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What were APJ Abdul Kalam’s early interests?
From a young age, Kalam showed a profound fascination with aeroplanes, rockets, and space.
What is the significance of the PURA model introduced by Dr Kalam?
The PURA model aimed to bring urban amenities and livelihood prospects to rural areas, fostering inclusive development.
What was Dr Kalam’s role in India’s missile development?
Kalam played a vital role in the development of various missiles, earning him the title of the ‘Missile Man of India.’
How did Dr Kalam contribute to education?
He served as a professor of Aerospace Engineering and held positions in esteemed educational institutions, nurturing young minds.
What awards and honors did Dr Abdul Kalam receive?
Dr Kalam received honorary doctorate degrees from 40 different universities and prestigious awards like Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna.