The Short Essay on APJ Abdul Kalam describe the Early life and childhood, career, achievement and awards, death.
Who has not ever heard the name Dr APJ Abdul Kalam? He is the famous missile man of India who gave wings to the dreams and hopes of aerospace in India. He also served as the 11th President of the Republic of India. He was very popular as a scientist as he was credited with the design and development of India’s own ballistic missiles and launch vehicle technology. Today I am going to briefly note down this great man’s biography in this article.
Early life and childhood
His name was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. However, he is better known as APJ Abdul Kalam. He was born on 15th of October in the year 1931 in the town of Rameshwaram in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. He was born to a Tamil Muslim family.
His father was a boat owner and imam in a local mosque in their locality. His mother was a house wife. Kalm was the youngest of the 4 brothers and 1 sister in his family. To supplement his family’s meagre income, Kalam used to sell newspapers.
He had average grades in his school. However, he was described as a hardworking student who was eager to learn new skills. He completed his school and then moved to St Joseph’s College at Trichy to pursue graduation in Physics.
He completed it in the year 1954. Later on, he went to Madras Institute of Technology where he completed his Aerospace Engineering. He wanted to become a fighter pilot but narrowly missed the cut offs as he was placed in the 9th position in the qualifiers where only 8 people were admitted.
Career as a scientist
In 1960 he completed his engineering and joined the Defence Research and Development Services and served in the capacity of Scientist to the Govt. of India. His early days of being a scientist were under the guidance of the world-famous space scientist Vikram Sarabhai.
In the year 1969 Kalam was transferred to ISRO as a lead scientist for the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). Under his guidance, India launched its first satellite Rohini in the near-earth orbit in the month of July 1980. In between working at ISRO and guiding projects he visited NASA many times to see how their work is done and to see what type of technology they are using. He was also the brainchild for the launch of PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).
Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the DRDO from July 1992 to December 1999. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which Kalam played an integral role.
Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator and successfully conducted these tests. Kalm also directed two breath-taking projects- Project Devil and Project Valiant during the regime of Indira Gandhi. These projects were related to ballistic missiles and the Union Cabinet did not approve of the idea first.
However, the projects were funded secretly by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Later on, Dr Kalam played an intensive role in getting the cabinet’s approval for the above missions. However, in spite of all his works, the two most outstanding works Dr Kalam accomplished as a scientist were the development of the missiles- Prithvi and Agni.
Career as President
Dr Kalam was elected as the 11th President of the Republic of India. He was sworn as the President and took charge of the office on 25th July 2002. He got a total vote of 922884 against the 107366 won by his opponent Lakshmi Sehgal.
The victory margin tells how popular he was as a person in real life. Kalam was the 3rd president to have been awarded the Bharat Ratna before becoming the president. The other two were Dr S Radhakrishnan and Dr Zakir Hussain. So, Kalam fell into this elite category.
He was very popular in his office. Dr Kalam was notable for his speeches and sharing his great wisdom. That’s why people gave him the tile of People’s President out of love and affection. However, in his tenure as president he could not act on 20 out of 21 mercy pleas that needed his approval.
This somewhat led to a little bit of criticism from the people as he could not decide whether the bail pleas be rejected or granted to the convicts. He also decided to impose President’s Rule in Bihar in the year 2005 which led to even more criticism.
His tenure as the 11th President of India ended in June 2007. At first, he was willing to contest the elections for a 2nd tenure. However, the political parties who at first supported his candidature backed out many times before the elections. In the end, amidst all these, he decided he will not contest for the elections for a 2nd term.
After his tenure ended as the 11th President of India, he became a visiting professor in the famous colleges of IIM Shillong, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Indore. He also became an honorary fellow in IISc Bangalore and many other colleges and institutes all across India.
In the year 2012, Kalam started a programme for the youth called What Can I Give Movement. This program was based on the idea of eradicating corruption from India.
It gained widespread acknowledgements all across the country specially amongst the youth. People specially the students were the most active readers and listeners of his speeches that gave a lot of knowledge and wisdom.
On 27th July 2015, Kalam was to deliver a lecture at IIM Shillong titled Creating a Liveable Planet Earth. While delivering the lecture he collapsed on the ground and lay unconscious. Immediately he was rushed to the nearest hospital namely Bethany Hospital Shillong.
The doctors told that he was in a critical condition. Finally, at 7.45 pm IST, he was declared dead. Even though he was admitted to ICU, he uttered his last words to his friend Srijan Pal Singh, “Funny guy! Are you doing well?”
His death came as a shock to all the people of the country. People from all walks and parts of life came together in this hour of sadness and grief. The National Flag was half mast on all govt offices and buildings.
His body was wrapped in a national flag and taken to his official residence in New Delhi. At his birth place at Rameshwaram, his body was put in public place so that people could come and pay their homage to this great soul.
On 30th July, he was fully laid to rest with full state honours. Many politicians came to attend his funeral from all the political parties. It just shows how much he was respected by all the people.
Awards and Achievements
Dr Kalam received various awards in his life. Being recognised by the people from all walks of life right from small shopkeepers to the elderly grand parents remain his greatest achievement.
In spite of all these laurels and fame he remained a humble and down to earth person which greatly impressed the people. He was specially known for being humble and soft spoken amongst all the world leaders. Well, I have tried to list down his major awards although there are many that I could not enter here.
1. Kalam was the proud recipient of 3 most prestigious awards in India–Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna awards from the Government of India. He received these awards in the year 1981, 1990 and 1997 respectively.
In the same year of 1997, he was honoured by the Government of India with the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
2. Kalam was conferred the prestigious award namely King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society, U.K in 2007. this award was given as a recognition to his outstanding work in the field of science and technology.
3. In 2008, he won the Hoover Medal given by ASME Foundation, USA.
In the following year in 2009, The California Institute of Technology, U.S.A, presented Kalam with the International von Karman Wings Award.
4. The IEEE honoured Kalam with IEEE Honorary Membership award in the year 2011.
5. One interesting fact to be noted here is that Dr Kalam was the proud recipient of honorary doctorates from 40 universities from all over the world. Moreover, to mark Dr Kalam’s 79th birthday celebrations, the United Nations decided to recognise it as World Students’ Day as a mark of respect for this great man.
Books written by Dr Kalam
Dr Kalam was a great writer too in addition to being a scientist, politician, and engineer. He left his mark on the world by penning down his thoughts and views in the form of books and poems. Below I have mentioned some of his greatest masterpieces in the field of literature in chronological order of being published.
1. Wings of Fire: An Autobiography (1999).
2. Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India (2002).
3. The Luminous Sparks (2004).
4. Inspiring Thoughts (2007).
5. You Are Born to Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond (This book was co-authored with Arun Tiwari, year of publication 2011).
6. Turning Points: A journey Through Challenges (2012).
7. A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020 (this book was co-authored with V. Ponraj, year of publication 2014).
Books written on him
Not only Dr Kalam wrote books and created masterpieces in literature. There are many books which have been written on him to describe his life and his career. Some of the well-known works have been mentioned below–
1. Eternal Quest: Life and Times of Dr Kalam authored by S Chandra, 2002.
2. President A P J Abdul Kalam authored by R K Pruthi, 2002.
3. A P J Abdul Kalam: The Visionary of India by K Bhushan and G Katyal, 2002.
4. The Kalam Effect: My Years with the President written by P M Nair, 2008.
5. My Days with Mahatma Abdul Kalam written by Fr a K George, 2009.
Some interesting facts on him
Well, here are facts collected randomly from his biographies on the internet. I hope you will read it and enjoy the statistics.
1. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam spent his childhood in poverty and distributed newspapers as a young boy to contribute to his father’s small income and to run the family.
2. He was a student of the great Indian scientist Dr Vikram Sarabhai who guided him and gave him directions during his career as a scientist.
3. He always there at the front to face the press after failing tests at ISRO and accepted responsibility for his mistakes. He also made sure never to claim the credit for any of the massive successes that he had achieved at the organization.
4. He was the first bachelor to become the President of India and occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
5. Dr Kalam was the third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna before being elected as the 11th President of republic of India
6. He was known to write his own thank you cards with personalised messages in his own handwriting.
7. He was a scholar of Thirukkural (a classic of couplets or Kurals) and was known to quote at least one couplet in most of his speeches.
8. He was deeply interested in literature and wrote many beautiful poems in his native Tamil.
9. A practicing Muslim, he was also well versed with Hindu customs and traditions and read the sacred Bhagavad Gita.
10. He was technologically advanced too. He had more than a million followers on Twitter but followed only 38 people.
11. He was nominated twice for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in the years 2003 and in 2006.
12. In February 2018, scientists from the Botanical Survey of India named a newly found plant species as Drypetes kalamii, in his honour.
13. In the year 2012, Dr Kalam was ranked number 2 in Outlook India’s poll of the Greatest Indian ever born.
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