Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Jayanti Special: 15 October

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Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India. He was also a famous scientist, also known as “Missile Man”. Let us know some things about Dr. Kalam through this article on his birth anniversary on 15th October.

Early days

  • Abdul Kalam was born on October 15, 1931.
  • He was born in a Muslim family in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu (then: Madras Presidency).
  • His father’s name was Jainulabdin Marakayar.
  • Jainulabdin Markyar was a boat owner and also the imam of a local mosque.
  • His mother’s name was Ashiamma who was a housewife. Kalam was the youngest among four brothers and one sister in his family.
  • At the time of Kalam’s birth, his family was poverty stricken. As a young boy he had to sell newspapers to supplement the family income.


After completing his education at Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Abdul Kalam went to St. Joseph’s College and graduated in Physics in 1954.

He then moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology. Kalam earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.

Professional life: From scientist to missile man

Kalam joined the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defense Research and Development Service (DRDS). He started his career by designing a small hovercraft. Thereafter, he moved to ISRO.

Although this eminent scientist A. P.J. Abdul Kalam achieved many scientific achievements which significantly contributed to India’s space and defense capabilities but some of his major scientific achievements are:

  • Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III): As the Project Director of India’s first indigenously developed Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Kalam Played an important role in its successful launch. SLV-III placed the Rohini satellite into orbit in 1980, marking India’s entry into the world of space exploration.
  • Ballistic Missile Development Programme: Kalam was a pioneer in India’s missile development programme. He played a leading role in the development of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), which resulted in the successful development of ballistic missiles such as Agni, Prithvi, Akash and Trishul. These missiles strengthened India’s strategic defense capabilities.
  • Nuclear Program and Pokhran-II: Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of India during the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. These tests demonstrated India’s capability to conduct nuclear explosions and cemented the country’s position as a nuclear power.
  • Indigenous Sonar Systems: During his tenure at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Kalam contributed to the development of indigenous sonar systems, which are important for underwater defense and surveillance.
  • Advanced Materials Research: Kalam’s research and contributions in the field of advanced materials were important for the development of lightweight and high-strength materials used in aerospace and defense applications.
  • Innovative Guided Missile Systems: Kalam’s leadership and expertise led to the development of innovative guided missile systems, making India self-reliant in this important technology.

Held these positions

A. P.J. Abdul Kalam held many prominent positions during his illustrious career. Some of the important positions held by him are as follows:

  • Project Director of SLV-III: In the 1970s, Kalam served as the Project Director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) at ISRO. Under his leadership, SLV-III successfully launched the Rohini satellite into orbit in 1980.
  • Chief Executive at Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP): Kalam played a leading role in the IGMDP, which aimed to develop a range of indigenous missiles for India’s defense needs. He served as the Chief Executive of the program and led the successful development of missiles such as Agni, Prithvi, Akash and Trishul.
  • Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India: Kalam served as the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India from 1992 to 1999. In this capacity, he provided important scientific advice and expertise to the government on a variety of matters.
  • Secretary, Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO): From 1992 to 1999, Kalam served as the Secretary of DRDO, and oversaw the organization’s research and development activities related to defense technologies. Took care of.
  • Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister: Kalam held the post of Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of India from 1999 to 2001. In this role, he provided scientific advice and guidance to the Prime Minister on matters of national importance.
  • 11th President of India: In 2002, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India. He served as President from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. During his presidency, he focused on youth development, education, and promoting India’s scientific and technological progress.
  • Chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST): After his presidency, Kalam served as Chancellor of IIST from 2007 to 2009. He was actively involved in educational initiatives and encouraged students to pursue careers in science and technology.
  • Throughout his career, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam held various prestigious positions and made significant contributions to the scientific, space and defense sectors of India. He was a versatile personality who left an indelible mark on the country and inspired millions with his vision and dedication.

Abdul Kalam: As President

As the President of India from 2002 to 2007, A. P.J. Abdul Kalam’s tenure was marked by his exceptional leadership and inspirational vision. Affectionately known as the “People’s President”, Kalam brought a unique blend of scientific acumen, foresight and humility to the country’s highest office.

Throughout his presidency, Kalam continued to promote his vision for a developed India, which he often referred to as “Vision 2020”. He stressed the role of science, technology, education and innovation in achieving sustainable development and prosperity for the nation.

As a scientist and educationist, Kalam gave priority to promoting education and research during his presidency. He stressed the importance of quality education for the development of the country and advocated increased investment in the education sector. Kalam believed that a strong foundation in science and technology was essential for India to become a global leader.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s legacy will continue to inspire and motivate people across the country, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of the citizens of India.

End times and legacy

On July 27, 2015, Kalam was delivering a lecture on “Creating a Livable Planet Earth” at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. At around 6:35 pm, only five minutes into his lecture, he collapsed. He was taken to nearby Bethany Hospital in critical condition. There, he had no pulse or any other signs of life. Despite being kept in the intensive care unit, Kalam was confirmed to have died suddenly at 7:45 pm from a cardiac arrest.

On the morning of 29 July, Kalam’s body, draped in the Indian flag, was taken to Palam Air Base and flown to Madurai in an Air Force C-130J aircraft, which arrived at Madurai Airport that afternoon. On July 30, 2015, the former President was buried with full state honors at the Pei Karumbu grounds in Rameshwaram. More than 350,000 people attended the funeral, including the Prime Minister, the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.


Year of award or honourName of award or honourAwarding organisation
1981Padma BhushanGovernment of India
1990Padma VibhushanGovernment of India
1994Distinguished FellowInstitute of Directors (India)
1995Honorary FellowNational Academy of Medical Sciences,
1997Indira Gandhi Award for National IntegrationIndian National Congress
1997Bharat RatnaPresident of India
1998Veer Savarkar AwardGovernment of India
2000Ramanujan AwardAlwars Research Centre, Chennai
2007Honorary Doctorate of Science and TechnologyCarnegie Mellon University
2007King Charles II MedalRoyal Society, UK
2007Honorary Doctorate of ScienceUniversity of Wolverhampton, UK
2008Doctor of ScienceUniversiti Sains Malaysia
2008Hoover MedalASME Foundation, USA
2008Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa)Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
2008Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa)Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
2009Honorary DoctorateOakland University
2009International von Kármán Wings AwardCalifornia Institute of Technology, USA
2010Doctor of EngineeringUniversity of Waterloo
2011IEEE Honorary MembershipIEEE
2012Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa)Simon Fraser University
2013Von Braun AwardNational Space Society
2014Honorary professorBeijing University, China
2014Doctor of ScienceEdinburgh University, UK

List of Indian President

Name Tenure
Rajendra Prasad
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan May 1962 – 13 May 1967
Zakir Hussain May 1967 – 3 May 1969
VV Giri (Acting President) May 1969 – 20 July 1969
Mohammad Hidayatullah (Acting President) July 1969 to 24 August 1969
V.V Giri August 1969 – 24 August 1974
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed August 1974 – 11 February 1977
Basappa Danappa Jatti (Acting President) February 1977 – 25 July 1977
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy July 1977 – 25 July 1982
Giani Zail Singh July 1982 – 25 July 1987
R Venkataraman July 1987 – 25 July 1992
Shankar Dayal Sharma July 1992 – 25 July 1997
K R Narayanan July 1997 – 25 July 2002
APJ Abdul Kalam July 2002 – 25 July 2007
Pratibha Patil July 2007 – 25 July 2012
Pranab Mukherjee July – 25 July 2017
Ram Nath Kovind July 2017 – 21 July 2022
Draupadi Murmu 21 July 2022-Incumbent

Bharat Ratna Award List

Year Recipients About
 Bharat Ratna 1954 C. Rajagopalachari Activist, statesman, and lawyer
 Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan  India’s first Vice-President and second President
C. V. Raman Physicists, mathematicians, and scientists
 Bharat Ratna 1955 Bhagwan Das Activist, philosopher, and educationist
M. Visvesvaraya Civil engineer, statesman, and Diwan of Mysore
Jawaharlal Nehru Activist and author served as the Prime Minister of India
Bharat Ratna 1957 Govind Ballabh Pant Activist and first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Bharat Ratna 1958 Dhondo Keshav Karve Social reformer and educator
Bharat Ratna 1961 Bidhan Chandra Roy Physician, political leader, philanthropist, educationist, and social worker
Purushottam Das Tandon Activist and speaker of the United Provinces Legislative Assembly
Bharat Ratna 1962 Rajendra Prasad Activist, lawyer, statesman, and scholar
Bharat Ratna 1963 Zakir Husain Activist, economist, and education philosopher served as a Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and the Governor of Bihar
Pandurang Vaman Kane Indologist and Sanskrit scholar, known for his five-volume literary work
Bharat Ratna 1966 Lal Bahadur Shastri Activist and served as the second Prime Minister of India
Bharat Ratna 1971 Indira Gandhi  First women Prime Minister of India
Bharat Ratna 1975 V. V. Giri Trade Unionist
Bharat Ratna 1976 K. Kamaraj Independence activist and statesman, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Bharat Ratna 1980 Mother Teresa  Catholic nun and the founder of the Missionaries of Charity.
1983 Vinoba Bhave  Activist, social reformer, and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi
Bharat Ratna 1987 Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan First noncitizen, independence activist
Bharat Ratna 1988 M. G. Ramachandran Actor turned politician, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Bharat Ratna 1990 B.R. Ambedkar Social reformer and leader of the Dalits
Nelson Mandela Leader of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa, President of South Africa
Bharat Ratna 1991 Rajiv Gandhi Gandhi was the ninth Prime Minister of India serving from 1984 to 1989.
Vallabhbhai Patel Activist and first Deputy Prime Minister of India
Morarji Desai Activist, and Prime Minister of India
Bharat Ratna 1992 Abul Kalam Azad Activist and first Minister of education
J. R. D. Tata Industrialist, philanthropist, and aviation pioneer
Satyajit Ray Director, filmmaker, writer, novelist
Bharat Ratna 1997 Gulzarilal Nanda Activist, and interim Prime Minister of India.
Aruna Asaf Ali Activist
A.P.J Abdul Kalam Aerospace and defense scientist
Bharat Ratna 1998 M. S. Subbulakshmi Carnatic classical vocalist
Chidambaram Subramaniam Activist and former Minister of Agriculture of India
Bharat Ratna 1999 Jayaprakash Narayan  Activist, and social reformer
Amartya Sen Economist
Gopinath Bordoloi Activist
Ravi Shankar Musician, sitar player
Bharat Ratna 2001 Lata Mangeshkar Singer
Bismillah Khan Hindustani classical shehnai player
Bharat Ratna 2009 Bhimsen Joshi Hindustani classical vocalist
Bharat Ratna 2014 C. N. R. Rao  Chemist and professor, author
Sachin Tendulkar Cricketer
Bharat Ratna 2015 Madan Mohan Malaviya Scholar and educational reformer.
Atal Bihari Bajpayee Elected nine times to the Lok Sabha, twice to the Rajya Sabha, and served as the Prime Minister of India for three terms.
Bharat Ratna 2019 Pranab Mukherjee Indian politician, and senior leader in the Indian National Congress.
Nanaji Deshmukh A social activist from India, education, health, and rural self-reliance.
Bhupen Hazarika  Indian playback singer, lyricist, musician, singer, poet, and filmmaker from Assam.


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