Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid tributes to A. P. J. Abdul Kalam on his 85th birth anniversary. “Tributes to our former President, the person who captured the imagination of every Indian, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary,” Modi said in a tweet.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a scientist and India’s 11th President, was born on 15 October 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, in a Tamil Muslim family. He came from a humble background and started working at an early age to support his family. After completing school, Dr Kalam distributed newspapers to financially contribute to his father Jainulabudeen, who was a boat owner.
He studied physics at the St Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, from where he graduated in 1954 and did Aerospace Engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai in 1960.
Dr Kalam joined Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist and started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army. He was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Dr Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, he was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed Rohini satellite near earth’s orbit in July 1980.
He is popularly known as the ‘Missile Man of India’ for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He played a pivotal role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.
Dr Kalam was elected the President of India in 2002. During his term as the President, from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007, he was affectionately known as the People’s President. Dr Kalam was the third President to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna, before becoming the President, the earlier two were Dr Sarvapali Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr Zakir Hussain (1963). He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government.
Among the many books written by Dr Kalam, few of them are: Wings of Fire: An Autobiography in 1999, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within in 2002, Target 3 Billion in 2011 and My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions in 2013. Dr Kalam advocated plans to develop India into a developed nation by 2020 in his book India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium in 1998.
Dr Kalam is known for his motivational speeches and interaction with the student community in India. Some of the inspiring quotes by him are:
“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.”
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”
Author of several bestselling books such as Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India and India 2020, Kalam was a great speaker and an inspiration to millions of people, especially kids. He always inspired children to dream big and achieve great goals in life.