We all know that India is the second biggest democracy in the world. Perhaps India is the only country, which has a Missile Scientist as its president. It is unique in the history of a Democratic country. The life of Dr. Kalam is a shining example. From a very humble beginning, by his dint of hard work, he rose to this eminent position and has become the First Citizen of India.

 

    He was born on 15th October 1931 at Dhanushkodi near Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. His fulIname is Avil Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. His family was not very rich. His father used to rent boats to fishermen to earn his livelihood.

    Upon Completion of his secondary education at Schwarts School in Ramanathapuram, Dr.Kalam took engineering at the Joseph's College, Trichy before joining the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) in 1958. After serving there for five years, he switched over to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

    While he was in ISRO he made significant contributions to Indian Satellite and launch vehicles. He was the Project Director there and, his extensive research in the field led to the design, development and test fire of India's first indigenous satellite launch vehicle (SLV III). This injected the Rohini Satellite in the near earth orbit. He was very much responsible for the creation of ISRO's launch vehicles programme and formation. After spending nearly 19 years in ISRO, he rejoined DRDO in 1982. He devised and rejoined DRDO in 1982. He devised and developed the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) for missiles. This helped in successful launching of the Agni and Prithvi Missiles. He was the Scientiflc Adviser to the Defence Ministry from 1992 to 1999. Then he became the chairman of the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council.

    There he conceived the Technology Vision 2020 thesis. These ideas provided overall guidance to a number of Homegrown Technology Projects and many major technological changes in sugar industry and advanced composites and fly ash utilisation.

    Dr. Kalam was the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India from 1999 to 2001. His rank there was equivalent to a Cabinet Minister. He evolved many schemes that paved way to create many innovations in the field of science applicable to daily life. He was also the Ex-officio Co-chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet.
Dr. Kalam very strongly believes that deep scientific knowledge should be inculcated among the younger generation. With the aim of igniting the young minds towards technology development, he meets the high school students and interacts with them.

    The Honours conferred on him are innumerable. Dr. Kalam has been conferred Degree of Doctor of Science by about 30 Universities and academic institutions. He has been awarded many prestigious national awards including Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1997. Apart from these, he is a recipient of the H.K. Firodia Award for Excellence in Science and Technology. He received the Indira Gandhi Award for National lntegration in 1997.

    He is the eleventh President of the Indian Union since 2002. In spite of being a Muslim, he can recite the Bhagavad Gita with as much ease as the holy Quran. He is a vegetarian and a teetotaller. His life is full of simplicity as he is a man of humble nature. "Wings of Fire" is his autobiography.

    He loves music too. He Plays veena and loves the Shri Raga. He is a voracious reader. He has a library at home and his favourite poets are Milton, Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore. He is an ardent lover of Thirukkural. He displays Thirukkural everyday in Rashtrapati Bhavan. It is indeed a pleasure to read about Dr. Kalam, a multifaceted personality and a practical man who converts "Dreams into Reality".

    Dr. Kalam is a pride of India. He is the first non-politician to be made the President. And he is far above all differences. It is worth mentioning that during the presidential race in 2002, even the saffronised Bharatiya Janata Patty (BJP) joined hands to elect him as the President. His home town Danushkoti no longer exists. It had been engulfed by the sea during the 1966 cyclone. However, Danushkoti had left behind an invaluable treasure. And that is Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

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