July 27, 2015. This date will be marked as one of the darkest days in the history of world’s largest democracy. It is the day when India lost its most beloved politician, scientist and statesman. Sounds weird but yes, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was one of the very few politicians who was loved by every single Indian citizen because of his knowledge, his humility and his kindness. At the age of 83, Dr. Kalam suffered a fatal heart attack while he was in the middle of a lecturing session at Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. His untimely departure has left the nation and the rest of the world mourning the loss of a man of rare intellect. In honor of our beloved President, let us learn 30 interesting A.P.J. Abdul Kalam facts and find out what made him so great and so beloved that the whole world is mourning his death.
At a Glance
Born: 15 October, 1931
Died: 27 July, 2015
Full Name: Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
Profession: Professor, Aerospace Scientist, Author
President of India: 25 July, 2002 – 25 July, 2007
Nicknames: Missile Man of India, People’s President
Interesting A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Facts: 1-10
1. Dr. Kalam was born in a poor family. However, his ancestors were not always poor. In fact, they had accumulated quite some fortune through a ferry Hindu pilgrims to Rameswaram – a pilgrimage center at Pamban Island. Some of the fortune also came from grocery trading.
2. In 1914 however, the Pamban Bridge was opened and this led to the collapse of the ferry business. Over time, the family lost its fortune and succumbed to poverty. Kalam was born in 1931 on October 15. By that time family was already poor and his father Jainulabudeen owned just one boat that was used for earning livelihood for the family.
3. In order to help his father, Kalam started working at an early age. Every day after the school, Kalam used to distribute newspaper to make some money that would help his family.
4. He graduated from Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli in year 1954. He graduated in Physics and the then in 1955 he moved to Madras and took admission in Madras Institute of Technology.
5. Kalam wanted to become a fighter jet pilot with Indian Air Force. He almost made it there, making it to the 9th position in the list of selected candidates. However, IAF had only 8 openings and the first 8 candidates were chosen.
6. In 1960, after graduating out from Madras Institute of Technology, he took a job with DRDO’s (Defence Research and Development Organization) Aeronautical Development Establishment. There, he started designing small helicopters for Indian Army.
7. Though he was not really happy with his job at DRDO, he was also a member of INCOSPAR committee led by Vikram Sarabhai (who was one of the renowned space scientists at that time). During his association with DRDO, Dr. Kalam had already started working independently on an expandable rocket project in early 1965.
8. In 1969, he was transferred to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and was made the project director for Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) – India’s first every launch vehicle. He led the project well and Rohini satellite was successfully launched in 1980 in near earth orbit.
9. In 1969, while working with ISRO, Dr. Kalam’s expandable rocket project received an approval from government. This allowed him to add more scientists to his team.
10. While working on SLV-III, he also started working on the development of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) between 1970s and 1980s. Even that turned out to be successful. During this period, he also received an invitation from Raja Ramanna (one of India’s most prominent nuclear physicists who played a crucial role in India’s nuclear programs during the early stages) for witnessing Smiling Buddha as TBRL (Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory of DRDO) representative. Smiling Buddha was India’s first nuclear test.