Dr APJ Kalam, born on October 15, 1931, in Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram. ‘Missile Man of India’served as the 11th President of India between 2002 and 2007. Kalam has inspired millions through his his philosophy of ‘simple living and high thinking.’ He played a crucial role in the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests. He was also associated with India’s space program and missile development program. He was named as the ‘Missile Man’ for his contributions towards the developments of India’s missile projects are world famous. APJ Abdul Kalam was very popular among kids. He often spoke to children and the country’s youth inspiring them to think big in life. He also penned a number of books. He inspired to think big in life. He died due to a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Shillong on July 27, 2015.
Let’s see some of the interesting facts about Kalam’s life :-
1) A. P. J Abdul Kalam served the country as the 11th President of India from 2002-07. He was India’s first President who was a bachelor and a vegetarian.
2) You will be surprised to know that he received honorary doctorates from 48 universities and institutions from India and abroad.
3) He was responsible for the development and operationalisation of Agni and Prithvi missiles, which is why he is called the ‘missile man’.
4) Kalam was awarded the coveted civilian awards – Padma Bhushan (1981), Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian award in India- Bharat Ratna (1997).
5) For seven years (1992-1999) Kalam remained the Chief Scientific Adviser to the PM and Secretary of the DRDO.
6) His autobiography Wings of Fire: An Autobiography was first published in English. Later it was translated into 13 languages including French and Chinese. There are six additional biographies on his life and works.
7) To support his family, Kalam used to distribute newspapers after his school hours to add to his father’s income.
8) Kalam missed an opportunity to become a fighter pilot for the Indian Air force. His dreams were shattered when he was ranked 9th when there were only 8 openings.
9) On the occasion of his birthday, the United Nations (UN) in 2015 had declared to observe it as World Student’s Day.
10) Kalam’s visit to Switzerland is commemorated as Science Day in the country. This declaration was made in his honour by the Swiss government after the sad demise of this great personality.
11) He wrote a great deal of poetry in Tamil, and was very fond of playing the stringed instrument Veena. He has also published several books such as Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, Inspiring Thoughts, and Turning Points among others.
12) Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA, discovered a new radiation-resistant bacteria in 2017 and named it ‘Solibacillus Kalamii’ to honour the late President.
13) Throughout his life, he supported the abolition of the death penalty saying that as President of India he felt pain in deciding mercy petitions of death row convicts.
Kalam, the youth icon, wanted every student of the country to be educated and then go on to help the nation grow. He regularly interacted with students of all age. He is and will remain a true inspiration to millions of youths around the world.