Today is the 87th birth anniversary of ‘People’s President’ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931, in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. After a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology, Kalam joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Later, he became part of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He returned to DRDO in 1982 and launched several successful missiles, earning the moniker “Missile Man of India”. He became India’s 11th President in 2002. On 27 July, 2015, Kalam died after collapsing due to a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at IIM-Shillong.
Here Are 10 Interesting Points About APJ Abdul Kalam
- APJ Abdul Kalam developed several missiles and nuclear weapon programmes. He was project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) andthe first satellite, ‘Rohini.’
- He began the country’s missile development programme. Five missiles – Nag, Akash, Trishul, Agni and Prithvi– were developed under his guidance. He was also instrumental in the formation of BrahMos Aerospace between Russia and India.
- He was a man of simple living and high thinking. As the president of India, Kalam donated his entire salary and savings to the social cause of ‘PURA’ (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas). PURA is a strategy for rural development in India.
- The only bachelor president of India, Kalam was honoured with the Padma Bhushan (1981), Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the Bharat Ratna (1997) awards. Only three Presidents (Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Dr. Zakir Hussain and Kalam) have been awarded the Bharat Ratna Award before being elected to the post. Kalam also received a doctorate degree from 40 universities.
- Secular at heart, APJ Abdul Kalam was a strict vegetarian and used to read the holy Bhagavad Gita along with Quran. He was an expert at playing the Veena, a musical instrument.
- Frisked twice at JFK Airport in New York, Kalam was scrutinised for explosives by the airport staff. Owing to the strong protests by India, the United States (US) government apologised to him.
- Kalam has authored over 15 books covering the various topics of nuclear physics and spirituality such as The Luminous Sparks, India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India, A Manifesto for Change,
- His autobiography, Wings of Fire(1999) has been translated into 13 languages including French and Chinese. Six biographies have been dedicated to his life and works.
- I Am Kalam, a Hindi film directed by Nila Madhab Panda in 2011, featured his life and achievements.
- Kalam had a huge fan following but he followed only one cricketer on Twitter,VVS Laxman. Kalam perhaps followed only 38 people on the micro-blogging platform.