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: July 17, 2020

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was an aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He was born on 15th October 1931 and died on 27th July 2015.


Childhood of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam:

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15th October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram on Pamban Island, then in the Madras Presidency and now in the State of Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque. His mother Ashiamma was a housewife. His father owned a ferry that took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now uninhabited Dhanushkodi. Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and one sister in his family. By his early childhood, Kalam's family had become poor; at an early age, he sold newspapers to supplement his family's income.


Education of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam:

After completing his education at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology.


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

  • After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (by Press Information Bureau, Government of India) as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS).
  • He started his career by designing a small hovercraft, but remained unconvinced by his choice of a job at DRDO.
  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist.
  • In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980.
  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965.
  • He was a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India's civilian space programme and military missile development efforts.
  • He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology.
  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which he played an intensive political and technological role.
  • In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent".
  • In 2012, the duo designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".
  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam served as the 11th President of India, succeeding K. R. Narayanan.
  • After leaving office, Kalam became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and the Indian Institute of Management Indore; an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram; professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University; and an adjunct at many other academic and research institutions across India.
  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.
  • While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Kalam collapsed and died from an apparent cardiac arrest on 27th July 2015, aged 83.
  • The Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam National Memorial was built in memory of Kalam by the DRDO in Pei Karumbu, in the island town of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu.
  • Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam  received 7 honorary doctorates from 40 universities.
  • The Government of India honoured him 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.
  • In 1997, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence technology in India.
  • In 2013, he was the recipient of the Von Braun Award from the National Space Society "to recognize excellence in the management and leadership of a space-related project".
  • The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, ceremonially released postage stamps commemorating Kalam at DRDO Bhawan in New Delhi on 15 October 2015, the 84th anniversary of Kalam's birth.
  • Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), had discovered a new bacterium on the filters of the International Space Station (ISS) and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late president Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.


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