Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, popularly known as APJ Abdul Kalam, was born on October 15, 1931. He served as the 11th President of India. Apart from the post of the President, he served in various capacities and is remembered for his contribution to the nation.
The life story of Kalam tells about the power of dreams. He was born in a modest family. In his childhood days, he faced hard times, but he worked hard and studied well to achieve his goals. He attended St. Joseph’s College and went on to study aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology.
He joined the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a senior scientific assistant in 1958. Kalam later became a part of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in 1969. AT ISRO, he was given the responsibility of project director of the SLV-III, the first satellite launch vehicle. This launch vehicle was designed and produced in the country.
Kalam re-joined the DRDO as director in 1982. There he implemented the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. Due to this missile program, he earned the nickname “Missile Man.” He was appointed the senior scientific adviser to India’s defense minister in 1992.
He played an instrumental role in the May 1998 Pokhran-II tests, which attracted economic sanctions to India and were also condemned by various countries.
In 2002, he succeeded KR Narayanan as the President of India. In the Presidential election, he defeated Lakshmi Sahgal. After taking over as the President, Kalam planned that he would hold 500,000 one-on-one meetings with young people during his stint. He was also known as the People’s President. He was succeeded by Pratibha Patil, who was India’s first woman President.
He authored several books, including the famous Wings of Fire. He was conferred with Padma Bhushan in 1990 and Bharat Ratna in 1997.
He breathed his last on July 27, 2015 at the age of 83.