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Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam Tamil: அவுல் பகீர் ஜைனுலாப்தீன் அப்துல் கலாம், born October 15, 1931, Tamil Nadu, India, usually referred to as Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam^, was the eleventh President of India, serving from 2002 to 2007.[2] During his term as The President, he was popularly known as the People's President[3][4]

Before his term as India's president, he worked as an aeronautical engineer with DRDO and ISRO. He is popularly known as the Missile Man of India for his work on development of ballistic missile and space rocket technology.[5]. In India he is highly respected as a scientist and as an engineer.

Kalam played a pivotal organisational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.[6] He is a professor at Anna University (Chennai) and adjunct/visiting faculty at many other academic and research institutions across India.

With the death of R. Venkataraman on January 27, 2009, Kalam became the only surviving former President of India.[2]

Political views

APJ Abdul Kalam views on certain issues have been espoused by him in his book India 2020 where he strongly advocates an action plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and into a developed nation by the year 2020. Kalam is credited with the view that India ought to take a more assertive stance in international relations; he regards his work on India's nuclear weapons program as a way to assert India's place as a future superpower.

Don't forget to have your say

Kalam continues to take an active interest in other developments in the field of science and technology as well. He has proposed a research programme for developing bio-implants. He is a supporter of Open source software over proprietary solutions and believes that the use of open source software on a large scale will bring more people the benefits of information technology [7].

Kalam's belief in the power of science to resolve society's problems and his views of these problems as a result of inefficient distribution of resources is modernistic. He also sees science and technology as ideology-free areas and emphasises the cultivation of scientific temper and entrepreneurial drive. In this, he finds a lot of support among India's new business leaders like the founders of Infosys and Wipro, (leading Indian IT corporations) who began their careers as technology professionals much in the same way Kalam did.

Personal life

Kalam's father was a devout Muslim, who owned boats which he rented out to local fishermen and was a good friend of Hindu religious leaders and the school teachers at Rameshwaram. APJ Abdul Kalam mentions in his biography that to support his studies, he started his career as a newspaper vendor. This was also told in the book, A Boy and His Dream: Three Stories from the Childhood of Abdul Kalam by Vinita Krishna. The house Kalam was born in can still be found on the Mosque street in Rameshwaram, and his brother's curio shop abuts it. This has become a point-of-call for tourists who seek out the place. Kalam grew up in an intimate relationship with nature, and he says in Wings of Fire that he never could imagine that water could be so powerful a destroying force as that he witnessed when he was thirty three. That was in 1964 when a cyclonic storm swept away the Pamban bridge and a trainload of passengers with it and also Kalam's native village, Dhanushkodi.

He is a scholar of Thirukkural; in most of his speeches, he quotes at least one kural. Kalam has written several inspirational books, most notably his autobiography Wings of Fire, aimed at motivating Indian youth. Another of his books, Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life reveals his spiritual side. He has written poems in Tamil as well. It has been reported that there is considerable demand in South Korea for translated versions of books authored by him. [8].

Kalam has also patronised grassroots innovations. He is closely associated with the Honey Bee Network and The National innovation Foundation. The NIF is a body of Government of India and operates from Ahmadabad, Gujrat. He respects all religions, including Sikhism and Hinduism.

He is a vegetarian and a teetotaller.[9]

Kalam as an engineer

Abdul Kalam graduated from Madras Institute of Technology majoring in Aeronautical Engineering. As the Project Director, he was heavily involved in the development of India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). As Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), he also played a major part in developing many missiles of India including Agni and Prithvi. Although the entire project has been criticised for being overrun and mismanaged[10]. He was the Chief Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999. Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period, led by him.

He is one of those scientists who aims at putting technology created by him to multiple use. He used the light weight carbon-compound material designed for Agni to make callipers for the polio affected. This carbon composite material reduced the weight of the calipers to 400 grams (from its original weight of 4kgs.) Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS, Hyderabad) was the birthplace for the defence technology spin offs from Kalam's labs via the DRDL (Defence Research and Development Laboratory), DMRL (Defence Metallurgical Research Lab) and the RCI (Research Centre Imarat). Addressing a conference at Athens, Greece, Kalam told that "Seeing the children run with lighter callipers brought tears to the eyes of their parents. That was the real moment of bliss for me".

Honours

On Wednesday April 29, 2009, he became the first Asian to be bestowed the Hoover Medal, America's top engineering prize, for his outstanding contribution to public service. Kalam has received honorary doctorates from as many as thirty universities, including the Carnegie Mellon University and the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.[12]

The Government of India has honoured him with the nation's highest civilian honours: the Padma Bhushan in 1981; Padma Vibhushan in 1990; and the Bharat Ratna in 1997 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Indian government..

Kalam is the Third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna before being elected to the highest office, the other two being Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain. He is also the first scientist and first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Kalam has been chosen to receive prestigious 2008 Hoover Medal for his outstanding public service. The citation said that he is being recognised for making state-of-the-art healthcare available to the common man at affordable prices, bringing quality medical care to rural areas by establishing a link between doctors and technocrats, using spin-offs of defence technology to create state-of-the-art medical equipment and launching tele-medicine projects connecting remote rural-based hospitals to the super-specialty hospital. A pre eminent scientist, a gifted engineer, and a true visionary, he is also a humble humanitarian in every sense of the word, it added. [13]

Books and documentaries

Kalam's writings
  • Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam by A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Arun Tiwari; by K. Bhushan, G. Katyal; A.P.H. Pub. Corp, 2002.
  • Scientist to President by Abdul A.P.J. Kalam; Gyan Publishing House, 2003.
  • Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam; Penguin Books, 2003.
  • India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Y.S. Rajan; Penguin Books India, 2003.
  • India-my-dream by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam; Excel Books, 2004.
  • Envisioning an Empowered Nation: Technology for Societal Transformation by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam; TATA McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd, 2004.
  • Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Arun K Tiwari; Ocean Books, 2005.
  • Children Ask Kalam by A.P.J Abdul Kalam; Pearson Education, ISBN 81-7758-245-3

Biographies

  • Eternal Quest: Life and Times of Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam by S. Chandra; Pentagon Publishers, 2002.
  • President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam by R. K. Pruthi; Anmol Publications, 2002.
  • A. P. J. Abdul Kalam: The Visionary of India' by K. Bhushan, G. Katyal; A.P.H. Pub. Corp, 2002.
  • A little Dream' (documentary film) by P. Dhanapal; Minveli Media Works Private Limited, 2008.[14]
  • The Kalam Effect: My Years with the President by P.M. Nair; Harper Collins, 2008.

Attributed Quotes

  • All God's creatures are His family; and he is the most beloved of God who tries to do most good to God's creatures.
  • 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 will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness?
  • Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organisation and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action, converts adversity into prosperity.
  • Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.
  • What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of injured.
  • When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust?. Withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad?
  • Whenever you face problems or are in the middle of them just think— What has happened, has happened for the good. What is happening is happening for the good. And what will happen will also happen for the good...
  • We have built the Agni to deliver all forms of warheads, including Flowers : {In the context of his role in building India's premier Missile, The Agni}

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