Remembering Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam: The People’s President
October 15 marks the birth anniversary of one of the most inspiring and influential leaders of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. He was born on this day in 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, and rose to become a renowned scientist, a visionary leader, and the 11th president of India.
Early Life and Education
Dr. Kalam had a humble and challenging childhood, but he never gave up on his dreams and aspirations. He was a brilliant student who excelled in physics and mathematics, and had a keen interest in aviation and rocketry. He graduated from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960 and joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist.
Scientific Career and Achievements
He later moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he played a key role in the launch of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) in 1980.
Dr. Kalam returned to DRDO in 1982 and became the director of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), which aimed to develop five types of missiles for India’s defence needs. He was instrumental in the design and development of Agni and Prithvi missiles, which boosted India’s strategic capabilities. He also supervised the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, which established India as a nuclear-weapon state.
Dr. Kalam was appointed as the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India in 1999, and was closely involved in the formulation of the Technology Vision 2020 document, which outlined India’s vision for becoming a developed nation by 2020. He also advocated the concept of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), which aimed to bridge the urban-rural divide and empower the rural masses.
Presidential Tenure and Popular Appeal
In 2002, Dr. Kalam was nominated as the presidential candidate by both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Indian National Congress (INC), reflecting his wide acceptance and popularity across the political spectrum. He won the presidential election with an overwhelming majority and became the 11th president of India. He was the third president of India to have been honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, before becoming the president.
As the president, Dr. Kalam endeared himself to the masses with his simple and humble lifestyle, his inspiring speeches, and his interactions with students and youth across the country. He used his office to promote various causes such as education, science, innovation, rural development, environment, and national integration. He also took several unconventional decisions, such as rejecting some mercy petitions of death row convicts, visiting Siachen Glacier to boost the morale of soldiers, and nominating eminent personalities like Sachin Tendulkar and Narayana Murthy to the Rajya Sabha.
Post-Presidential Activities and Legacy
Dr. Kalam completed his term as president in 2007 and returned to his academic and scientific pursuits. He joined various universities and institutions as a visiting professor, honorary fellow, or chancellor. He also wrote several books on topics ranging from science, technology, spirituality, leadership, and education. Some of his notable books are Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of A P J Abdul Kalam, India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India, Indomitable Spirit, and Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji.
Dr. Kalam passed away on July 27, 2015, at the age of 83, while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. His death was mourned by millions of Indians and people around the world who admired him for his achievements, his values, and his spirit. His life story continues to inspire generations of Indians to pursue their dreams with passion, dedication, and integrity.
Inspirational Quotes by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam:
On his birth anniversary, let us pay tribute to this great son of India by remembering his words:
- “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”
- “If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.”
- “Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy success.”
- “All of us do not have equal talent. But , all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”
- “Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but synthetic happiness.”
- “Dreams are not those which come while we are sleeping, but dreams are those when you don’t sleep before fulfilling them.”