A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam or A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was an aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam or A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was an aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.
He spent his four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was intimately involved in India's civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. Thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology.


He also played a pivotal organisational, technical, and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974. Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the then-opposition Indian National Congress. Referred as the 'People's President', he was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour. He was born on October 15th, 1931 and died on July 27th, 2015.


Childhood of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam:

Kalam was born as Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam on 15th October 1931 into a Muslim family in Rameswaram, then in the Madras Presidency in British India, and now in the state of Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabudeen was a boat owner while his mother Ashiamma was a housewife. Kalam had four elder siblings.


Even though his ancestors had been wealthy traders, the family had lost most of its fortunes by the 1920s and was poverty-stricken by the time Kalam was born. As a young boy he had to sell newspapers in order to add to the family's meager income. 


Education of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam:

Kalam completed his studies at Schwartz Higher Secondary School. Then he enrolled at Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, graduating in science in 1954. Pursuing his childhood dream, he travelled to Madras to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam earned his degree from Madras Institute of Technology in 1957. 


Family of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam:

He never married. Throughout his life he maintained close ties with his siblings and their extended families.


Some facts about A.P.J. Abdul Kalam:

  • Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist in 1958.
  • In the early 1960s, he worked with the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) under the renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. He also designed a small hovercraft at DRDO.
  • He visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Wallops Flight Facility in 1963-64. Inspired by this visit, he began working on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965.
  • He was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969, where he served as the project director of the SLV-III, India’s first indigenously designed and produced satellite launch vehicle.
  • While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong on 27th July 2015, he collapsed and was rushed to the Bethany Hospital. He was confirmed dead of a cardiac arrest. The Government of India declared a seven-day state mourning period as a mark of respect.
  • Kalam was the proud recipient of Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and Bharat Ratna in 1997 from the Government of India.
  • In 1997, he was honored by the Government of India with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
  • Later, the next year, he was awarded the Veer Savarkar Award by the Government of India.
  • The Alwars Research Centre, Chennai, bestowed Kalam with Ramanujan Award in the year 2000.
  • Kalam was honored with the King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society, U.K in 2007.
  • In 2008, he won the Hoover Medal given by ASME Foundation, USA.
  • In 2008, he won the Hoover Medal given by ASME Foundation, USA.
  • The California Institute of Technology, U.S.A, presented Kalam with the International von Karman Wings Award in the year 2009.
  • The IEEE honored Kalam with IEEE Honorary Membership in 2011.
  • Kalam was the proud recipient of honorary doctorates from 40 universities.
  • Kalam's 79th birthday was recognised as World Students' Day by United Nations.
  • He was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and in 2006.



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