30 Known Facts About Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
Today marks the 84th birth anniversary of former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The renowned scientist, who inspired millions of people from around the world, passed away in Shillong, Meghalaya, while addressing the students of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) on 27, July, 2015. Here are 20 known facts about Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
Pokhran-II Nuclear Tests
India owes its development as a nuclear nation to Kalam's organizational and technical support for Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first such tests after a gap of 24 years. Pokhran-II was the series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India at the Indian Army's Pokhran Test Range in May 1998. It was the second Indian nuclear test; the first test, code-named Smiling Buddha, was conducted in May 1974.
Kalam as a scientist in DRDO
Kalam joined Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist. His first achievement in his career was designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, though he remained unconvinced and dissatisfied with the choice of his job at DRDO.
11th President of India
Sworn in on 25 July, 2002, Kalam became 11th President of India, succeeding KR Narayanan. For his simple and humble attitude, he was affectionately known as the 'People's President.'
The Awards and Honours
The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. APJ Abdul Kalam has received India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his immensely precious contribution to the scientific research and modernization of defense technology in India.
Born to Tamil Muslim parents in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu in 1931, Kalam was a bright and hardworking student. Mr.Kalam’s father Jainulabudeen was not formally educated and was into the boat building business, he used to ferry people between Dhanuskodi and his hometown of, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. He came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his family’s income. In order to support his poor family, young Kalam used to distribute newspapers after his school hours to add to his father's income. He graduated from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960.
UN - World Students' Day
Following the death of Kalam, there were many reports that United Nations will observe his birth date as the World Students' Day. However, no official confirmation has been made, nor is the day added among the list of UN International Days.
I Am Kalam, a 2011 Hindi film
Kalam's life also inspired I Am Kalam, a 2011 Hindi film directed by Nila Madhab Panda. The film showcases a poor Rajasthani boy, who is inspired by the life of the former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam. It's Kalam's life which fuels a strong desire to learn in the young boy. Here Kalam is portrayed as an extremely positive influence to a poor but bright Rajasthani boy Chhotu, who renames himself Kalam in honour of his idol.
Although he started as a newspaper vendor when he was a kid, Dr Kalam’s career “skyrocketed” as he became a scientist and an engineer. He helped in the management of projects for developing missiles such as Agni and Prithvi.
His autobiography Wings of Fire: An Autobiography, first published in English, has been translated into 13 languages including French and Chinese. A prolific writer, Kalam has authored around 15 books on various subjects ranging from nuclear physics to spiritual experiences.
At ISRO, He was one of the pioneers of India's first space launch-vehicle program. He was also a recipient of honorary doctorates from 40 universities.
Missile Man of India
Kalam was intimately involved in India's civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology.
Kalam Was Brought Up In A Multi-Religious, Tolerant Society
When Kalam became the president, the official hairstylist at Rashtrapati Bhavan was in charge of the president’s hair cuts. But the former president did not forget Ahmed. He invited Ahmed and his family – children and grandchildren, to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Ahmed then asked Kalam why he never married. "I was married," he said. Then he smiled and said. "I was married to the missile." Kalam dedicated his life for serving the nation.
Kalam took great care of his Colleagues
A co-worker had promised his kids that he would take them to the local carnival after returning from work, the co-worker had also obtained the prior permission of Mr.Kalam to leave early.
The colleague was so engrossed in his work that it was well into the evening when he realised that he had made a promise to his kids. On rushing back home, he came to know through his wife that Mr.Kalam had come earlier and taken his kids to the carnival.
Science Day - Switzerland
Switzerland commemorate Kalam’s visit to their country as Science day. (May 26)
He stressed on the importance of working hard and being punctual in every lecture he delivered. In deference to former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's wish that no holiday should be declared on his death, political leaders of different hues - as also the common people - worked through the day and paid their tributes by even working extra hours.
Tamil poetry was his love. He could play the veena, recite the Holy Quran and the Bhagavad Gita, and knew the Holy Scriptures inside out.
MTV Youth Icon
When he was in his mid-70s, Abdul Kalam was twice nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year Award, in 2003 and 2006. Can you imagine a senior scientist and President of the country being associated with MTV Awards, and being nominated for awards by teenage viewers of this crazily young television channel?
Rise to the Presidency
In 2002, India's ruling National Democratic Alliance helped Kalam win an election against Lakshmi Sahgal and become India's 11th president. Kalam set a goal of conducting 500,000 one-on-one meetings with young people over the course of his five-year term.
What Can I Give Movement
After leaving office in 2007, Kalam became a visiting professor at several universities. He formed the "What Can I Give Movement" in 2011 with the goal of creating a compassionate society, and in 2012, his efforts to improve healthcare led to the release of a tablet for medical personnel to use in remote areas.
He founded the trust named PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) and started giving all his life's salaries and savings to it when he came to know that the government takes care of its Presidents.
Thank you cards
Kalam is known to write his own thank you cards with personalised messages in his own handwriting.
Frequent Surprise Visits
He was famously known for his frequent surprise visits to college and school students and sometimes with minimal security facilities. Once while he was one of the key advisors to the government, he was invited as a guest.
He refused to sit on special chairs at events
When he attended the Lakshmi Vidya Sangham in 2015, Kalam refused to take the larger chair that had been provided to him on the dais, and sat on same kind of chairs that the students used. In 2012, attending a function at the Defence Food Research Laboratory, he had asked for a regular chair rather than the ceremonial one provided for him.
Champion of Wildlife and Nature
Working at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Kalam had rejected a proposal to place broken glass on the walls of the institution to prevent break-ins. Kalam said the broken glass would be harmful for the birds that perch on the walls.
At the time of admission into Madras Institute of Technology, he did not have the money to pay thousand rupees as fee, his father could not afford that amount of money. His sister mortgaged her gold bangles, to get the money for admission.
Kalam the Stalwart
In his book India 2020, Kalam strongly advocated an action plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and a developed nation by the year 2020. He regards his work on India’s nuclear weapons programme as a way to assert India’s place as a future superpower.
Rashtrapati Bhavan powered by solar energy
He wanted to have Rashtrapati Bhavan powered by solar energy. Unfortunately, Kalam's term ended before his proposal could be implemented. Later, he said: "I would have liked the Rashtrapati Bhavan to be the first home in India to be powered completely by solar energy. "
Before becoming the president, Kalam, acknowledged as the driving force behind India's quest for cutting-edge defence technologies, used to stay in a one-room flat.
Though a nominated president can avail free air tickets for his relatives attending swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Kalam, who led a modest life, chose not to avail such privileges and paid for 2nd AC train tickets for kin.
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