Remembering the missile man on his 3rd death anniversary

Kriti Billore
Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam the one who is known as Missile Man, who served as the 11th President of  India  (from 2002 to 2007) and is known for his contribution in development of the nation as a scientist. He played a major role in Military Missile development and in India's civilian space program.

Personal Life
He was born on 15 October 1931 in Rameswaram (then in Madras Presidency in British India, now in Tamil Nadu). His full name was Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam and he belonged to a muslim family. His father Jainulabdeen was owner of a boat and his mother was a housewife, they had four children and Kalam was the  youngest one. His ancestors were very rich traders but family lost all their property and wealth by 1920 and were poverty striken by the time Kalam was born. Kalam used to sell newspaper in his childhood and helped his family by adding his little income. 

In his childhood he realised his aim and decided to do something with the flight. He completed his studies from the Schwartz higher secondary School. After that he enrolled at Saint Joseph's college. He graduated in physics in 1954, and left for Madras to fulfil his dream. He studeied areospace engineering in Madras institute of Technology. During his third year, he was given a very tragic project to design a low level aircraft together with a few other students and the Guide gave them a tight deadline. They worked hard and dedicated their day and night and finally made it within their deadline. The guide was impressed by their work and dedication. Kalam also desired to become a fighter pilot but couldn't achieve it. He visited NASA's langly research center in Hampton, virginia, Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Flight Facility. Kalam was inspired by his visit, he after re-joining the DRDO Kalam decided to execute his idea of making missile. He planned the program that produced numerous successful missiles, because of which he is known as a Missile Man. After his degree from Madras Institute of Technology in 1957. In 1958, he joined Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organistion (DRDO) as a scientist. Also, he was a project manager of SLV-III, India's first indigeneously designed and produced Satellite Vehicle launch in 1969.

He worked at Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) under a very prominent scientist Vikram Sarabhai. At DRDO he designed a small hover craft. After re-joining the DRDO Kalam decided to execute his idea of making missile. He planned the program that produced numerous successful missiles, because of which he is known as a 'Missile Man'. In the early 1980s, the integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP), an Indian ministry of defence program managed by the DRDO in partnership in partnership with other government organisations was launched. Kalam was asked to lead the project and thus he returned to DRDO as a Chief Executive of IGMDP in 1983.The programme received a lot of political support, aimed at the concurrent development of four projects: Short range surface-to-surface missile (code-named Prithvi), Short range low-level surface-to-air missile (code-named Trishul), Medium range surface-to-air missile (code-named Akash) and Third-generation anti-tank missile (code-named Nag).

Kalam played a major role in conducting the Pokhran-II, it was a series of five nuclear bomb tested explosions at the Indian Army's Pokhran Test Range in May 1998. The then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee proclaimed India a full-fledged nuclear state, huge success of these tests which lead Kalam to the status of a national hero.

Kalam became the scientific adviser to the defence minister from 1992 to 1997 and later he served as a principle scientific adviser from (1999-2001) to the government with rank of cabinet minister. In 2002, Kalam was given an opportunity to succeed as a president by National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He was nominated by the Hindu Nationalist (Hindutva) NDA even after knowing that he was Muslim, his popularity and his dedication towards nation made it easy for Kalam to win the elections in 2002. He remained comitted to science and technology and worked towards transformation of the India into a developed nation. He left the office in 2007. 


  • Bharat Ratna (1997)
  • Padma Vibhushan (1990)
  • Padma Bhushan (1981)
  • Indira Gandhi Award For National Integration (1997)
  • Ramanujan Award (2000)
  • King Charles II Medal (2007)
  • Hoover Medal (2008)
  • International Von Kármán Wings Award
      and more

Kalam wrote several books, 

  • Wings of Fire (1999), his autobiography,
  • Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji (published just a month before his death)

In Shillong while delivering a lecture in Indian Institute of Management he collapsed after 5 minutes of this speech. He was rushed to the hospital, where they said that his condition is critical. Then he died of a sudden cardiac arrest at 7:45pm on 27 July, 2015. 

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