Remembering Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on his birth aniversary

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, also known as Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, was born on October 15, 1931 in Rameswaram, India, He was an Indian scientist and politician who played a big role in the development of India’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. He was president of India from 2002 to 2007.

Dr. Kalam earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology and in 1958 and later joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He soon moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation, where he was project director of the SLV-III, India’s first indigenously designed and produced satellite launch vehicle. After rejoining DRDO in 1982, Dr. Kalam planned the program that produced variety of successful missiles, which helped earned him the nickname “Missile Man of India.”

From 1992 to 1997 Dr. Kalam was scientific adviser to the defense minister, and he later served as principal scientific adviser (1999–2001) to the govt of India with the rank of cabinet minister. His prominent role within the country’s 1998 nuclear weapons tests established Dr. Kalam as a national hero, although the tests caused great concern within the international community. In 1998 Dr. Kalam recommend a national plan called Technology Vision 2020, which he described as a road map for transforming India from a less-developed to a developed society in 20 years. The plan involved , among other measures, increasing agricultural productivity, emphasizing technology as a vehicle for economic growth, and widening access to health care and education.

In 2002 India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) proposes Kalam to succeed outgoing President Kocheril Raman Narayanan. Kalam was nominated by the Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) NDA albeit he was Muslim, and his stature and popular appeal were specified even the opposition party, the Indian National Congress, also proposed his candidacy. Kalam easily won the election and was sworn in as India’s 11th president, a largely ceremonial post, in July 2002.

He remained committed to using science and technology to remodel India into a developed country. In 2007 Kalam left office and was succeeded by Pratibha Patil, the country’s first woman president.
Kalam wrote several books, including an autobiography, Wings of fire (1999). Among his numerous awards were two of the country’s highest honours, the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and also the Bharat Ratna (1997).

On 27 July 2015, Kalam travelled to Shillong to deliver a lecture on “Creating a Livable Planet Earth” at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. While climbing a flight of stairs, he experienced some discomfort, but was able to enter the auditorium after a brief rest. At around 6:35 p.m. IST, only five minutes into his lecture, he collapsed. He was rushed to the nearby Bethany Hospital in a critical condition; upon arrival, he lacked a pulse or any other signs of life. Despite being placed in the intensive care unit, Kalam was confirmed dead of a sudden cardiac arrest at 7:45 p.m. IST. His last words, to his aide Srijan Pal Singh, were reportedly: “Funny guy! Are you doing well?”

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