APJ Abdul Kalam: Unparalleled Genius and Spiritual Technocrat
Dr. Abdul Kalam died on July 27, 2015, at Shillong, after he lost consciousness while delivering a lecture. He was 83. He was buried at Rameshwaram with full state honours and Islamic rites. The funeral was attended by an ocean of people. This demonstrated a kind of love and adulation he had in the hearts of the people, which is unparalleled in recent history. He truly proved to be Peoples’ President, loved by all and hated by none.
It is the policy of the WorldMuslimPedia to publish biographies of only living Muslim greats. However, as a tribute to Late Abdul Kalam, his biography will continue to appear for one year.
A.P. J. Abdul Kalam
Former President of India
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was an Indian scientist and administrator who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007
- Born: October 15, 1931 (age 83), Rameswaram
- Full name: Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
- Awards: Bharat Ratna, more
- Parents: Ashiamma Jainulabiddin, Jainulabiddin Marakayar
- Education: Madras Institute of Technology(1955–1960), St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli (1954)
The romance of Dr APJ Kalam’s ascending is indeed contemporary India’s best fairy tale material. His story reads like the Indian version of Abraham Lincoln’s from –log-house-to-Whitehouse saga. What makes this story especially delightful is the tribute and salute offered to his talent and contribution by the ever-shifting never trusted politicians of India. Dr Kalam epitomizes the “spiritual technocrat” and his elevation to Rashtrapati Bhavan is testimony to the universal admiration we have for spotless integrity in modern times, despite the corruption enveloping our lives. His life story is an allegory of the glory of unwavering sincerity, faith and devotion to great values of life.
A simple, devout and disciplined boat owner’s son, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was born in 1931into a middle class family in Rameswaram. He learnt his first great lessons in the school of his father’s daily routine and faith. He himself pays homage to his father’s simple and great life.” I have throughout my life tried to emulate my father in my world of science and technology,” says Dr Kalam, “I have endeavored to understand the fundamental truths revealed to me by my father, and feel convinced that there exists a divine power that can lift one from confusion, misery, melancholy and failure, and guide one to one’s true place.”
This training has defined Dr Kalam’s life. Before reaching the top he had his share of failures; but his faith made him turn every failure into a teacher. In his career he went up the ladder defeating his failures, which generally defeat a man without a faith. Starting a senior Scientific Assistant at the DTP (Air).He moved on to INCOSPAR as a rocket engineer, and then to NASA. On his return from NASA, he was first involved in India’s first rocket launch in 1963.
Later he was handpicked by the great Dr Vikram Sarabhai and was chosen to be a project leader. To him was entrusted the job of designing the fourth stage of India ‘s satellite launch vehicle(SLV).How Dr Kalam learnt to cope with surmount failures is amply testified by the incident of SLV3 failure. He remembers the failed attempt not as a depressing defeat but as an incident which became an opportunity to learn great lesson. He recalls the lesson he received from his mentor, Dr Brahm Prakash, “To live only for some unknown future is superficial. It is like climbing a mountain to reach the peak without experiencing its sides. The sides of the mountain sustain life, not the peak. This is where things grow, experience is gained, and technologies are measured. The importance of the peak lies only in the fact that it defines the sides. So I went on towards the top, but always experiencing the sides. I had a long way to go but I was no in hurry. I went in little steps-just one step after another-but each step towards the top.”
The lesson was indeed learnt well in July 1980 India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV3) was successfully launched, and with this launch India joined the club of countries having satellite launch capability.
It is customary to state that India’s rocketry and missile programme took grant strides under Dr Kalam’s Supervision. India’s space odyssey had its great Odysseus in Dr Kalam. He is to a great extent, responsible for making India a missile power, and gave Indian defense forces formidable weaponry. As a defense scientist he was chiefly responsible for developing India’s defense arsenal by producing missiles Agni, Prithvi, Akash, Trishul and Nag. He is also credited with guiding India to the status of a Nuclear Power.
Dr Kalam has been honored by his countrymen, befitting his contribution and stature, the greatest civilian honor, the Bharat-Ratan, and the highest Indian office in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. But he is remembered today as one who turns his audience into a class of inquisitive students, wherever he goes. It was on several occasions a great sight, never seen before, when the Indian President addressed his audience and invited people to ask him questions. He would receive a great response and then answer the questions in the fashion of a professor explaining some equations to his students. This image will abide in the minds of all Indians.
A gifted visionary, Dr Kalam has prepared a roadmap for the India of 21st century. His vision 2020 projects India as a superpower, an economic giant and a great nation of modern times. His faith in India’s great future has given all Indians a true reason to smile with hope, confidence and pride. He is today India’s most respected, popular and most trusted man and fascinates all as one whose life is equally colored by spirituality and atomic energy, by missile technology and the vina (a musical instrument) by science and poetry, by queries and faith.
It is interesting to learn that the man whose life is devoted to science and technology finds his philosophy of life in the Holy Quran, the Divine life and the works of Khalil Gibran.
2 Awards, Titles and Honours
3 Kalam’s writings
5 Vision 2020 Missions
5.1 Vision for the Nation
5.2 Innovation and India’s Role in the Knowledge Economy
6 Speeches / Lectures
7 From His Diary
8 Looking Beyond
9 Kalam Quotes
His own website describes his profile as follows:
Born on 15th October 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, specialized in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. Dr. Kalam made significant contribution as Project Director to develop India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully injected the Rohini satellite in the near earth orbit in July 1980 and made India an exclusive member of Space Club. He was responsible for the evolution of ISRO’s launch vehicle programme, particularly the PSLV configuration. After working for two decades in ISRO and mastering launch vehicle technologies, Dr. Kalam took up the responsibility of developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at Defence Research and Development Organization as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
He was responsible for the development and operationalization of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions. He was the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999. During this period he led to the weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in collaboration with Department of Atomic Energy, which made India a nuclear weapon State. He also gave thrust to self-reliance in defense systems by progressing multiple development tasks and mission projects such as Light Combat Aircraft.
As Chairman of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) and as an eminent scientist, he led the country with the help of 500 experts to arrive at Technology Vision 2020 giving a road map for transforming India from the present developing status to a developed nation. Dr. Kalam has served as the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, in the rank of Cabinet Minister, from November 1999 to November 2001 and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications. Dr. Kalam was also the Chairman, Ex-officio, of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) and piloted India Millennium Mission 2020.
2. Awards, Titles and Honours
3. Kalam’s Writings
- Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology by A P J Abdul Kalam and Roddam Narasimha; Indian Academy of Sciences, 1988
- India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium by A P J Abdul Kalam, Y S Rajan; New York, 1998.
- Wings of Fire: An Autobiography by A P J Abdul Kalam, Arun Tiwari; Universities Press, 1999.
- Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India by A P J Abdul Kalam; Viking, 2002.
- The Luminous Sparks by A P J Abdul Kalam, by; Punya Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2004.
- Mission India by A P J Abdul Kalam, Paintings by Manav Gupta; Penguin Books, 2005
- Inspiring Thoughts by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal & Sons, 2007
- Indomitable Spirit by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal and Sons Publishing
- Envisioning an Empowered Nation by A P J Abdul Kalam with A Sivathanu Pillai; Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi
- You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond by A P J Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari; Ocean Books, 2011
- Turning Points: A journey through challenges by A P J Abdul Kalam; Harper Collins India, 2012.
- Target 3 Billion” by A P J Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh; December 2011 | Publisher Penguin Books.
- My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions by A P J Abdul Kalam; August 2013 by the Rupa Publication.
- A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020 by A P J Abdul Kalam and V Ponraj; July 2014 by Harper Collins.
- Eternal Quest: Life and Times of Dr Kalam by S Chandra; Pentagon Publishers, 2002.
- President A P J Abdul Kalam by R K Pruthi; Anmol Publications, 2002.
- A P J Abdul Kalam: The Visionary of India by K Bhushan, G Katyal; A P H Pub Corp, 2002.
- A Little Dream (documentary film) by P. Dhanapal; Minveli Media Works Private Limited, 2008.
- The Kalam Effect: My Years with the President by P M Nair; Harper Collins, 2008.
- My Days with Mahatma Abdul Kalam by Fr A K George; Novel Corporation, 2009.
5. Vision 2020 Missions
5.1 Vision for the Nation
- Vision 2020 for Passenger Aircraft
- Evolution of India Vision 2020
- National Missions and opportunities
- Integrated actions for development
- Regional development leads to the best
- Ambience In The Nation 2007
- Economic development: Transforming India into a developed nation
- Growth Competitive Index
- Global Human Resource cadre
- National Prosperity Index
- Possible Ambience in 2020
- Distinctive Profile of India 2020
5.2 Innovation and India’s Role in the Knowledge Economy
Jun 25 2008
Dear friends, let me share with you “Innovation ecosystem to empower Indian innovations”. I will discuss about few instances of Indian innovations.
Innovation in IT: We all know about the recent rise of India’s IT sector. Today the IT sector employs more than 2 million persons and contributes roughly 25% of India’s exports. The IT sector also contributes around 4% to India’s GDP. When you consider that the IT sector employs just 0.2% of the population, you can see that the IT sector is contributing many times its share to the Indian economy. Indeed it is not wrong to say that the IT sector, perhaps single-handedly, changed the world’s perception about India. IT is not the only area where India is innovative.
Innovation in Consumer items: The sachet of shampoo that costs just Rs. 2, or about five cents! Imagine producing something for five cents that includes not just the aluminum for the sachet, but also its contents, not to mention the cost of distribution. Yet these sachets can be found everywhere in India.
Innovation in Cell phone Business model: Today villagers are all speaking on cell phone. India has the cheapest telephone rates in the world, for both land lines as well as cell phones. India also has the fastest growing telecom market in the world, adding roughly eight million cell phones every month! This amazing growth has been made possible because the Indian cell phone service providers have a number of innovative business models, such as free incoming calls, prepaid calling cards, etc. We should remember that innovation in business models is also innovation!
Innovation in healthcare: Next innovation let me focus on the “Jaipur foot,” which was originally made for about $ 28, by itself a very low price. But the DRDO applied its technical competence to the problem, and designed a still lighter and more durable foot called FRO using carbon-composite material. The Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad also developed a very low-cost “stent” that brought down the price of stents by more than 90% to the Indian consumers. Similarly, the cost of a heart bypass surgery in India is just about $ 3? 5K, compared to more than $ 50K abroad.
Innovation in Election system: India’s democratic society also benefits from Indian innovation. We see here an Electronic Voting Machine used in our elections. Foreigners are often surprised to find out that in Indian elections, 100% of the voting is through EVMs. In recent times doubts have been raised about the reliability of the software used in electronic voting machines in some other countries. Our EVMs are based on push button technology (rather than touch screen technology) which makes them absolutely tamper-proof. Moreover, it is also possible to have a “recount” in the case of close contests, without any difficulty. In some regions, Election Commission carrying EVMs on elephant back particularly in Northeastern area is by itself an innovation in transportation.
Innovation in Nuclear Science: On 11 May 2008, I was with the members of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) on the occasion of the National Technology Day celebrations-2008 and distributed the DAE Awards-2006. I have seen 400 scientists who have shown excellent performance in Science, Engineering and Technology in Department of Atomic Energy. Their innovations in the nuclear science and technology will have tremendous potential; I would like to particularly mention a few, such as
- Carbide fuel processing in the nuclear Fast reactors at IGCAR, DAE;
- reduced use of uranium to attain the same level of performance in power generation by DAE;
- Indigenous design and development of an unique variable low energy positron beam system to enable depth-resolved defect studies at surfaces and interfaces of materials;
- BHABHA-TRON? the first indigenous tele-cobalt machine;
- design and development of optically pumped infrared molecular gas lasers producing output at 16 micron for molecular uranium isotope separation are some the innovative research which I have witnessed.
Innovation in other Science and Technology departments: Dear friends, our scientists in multiple scientific departments have worked for self-reliance and have succeeded. Some of the innovative examples such as
a. Making the cryogenic engine; Successful launch of 10 satellites in one go and Successful Satellite Recovery Experiment by ISRO;
b. Anti-Ballistic Missile System and Indigenous Ring Laser Gyro based INS with high impact accuracy in Agni-III by DRDO
c. Flight control system for LCA by ADA
Are some of the innovative achievements which stand today as witness to Indian innovations in science and technology?
Innovation in Rural transformation through Jatropha : Let me now focus at the innovation in rural transformation through Jatropha. Rani-dhera a tribal village in Chhattisgarh state which was steeped in darkness after sun set has been lighted with Jatropha oil drawn straight from the seeds. The villages are paying rupees 20 per light per month. This innovation has been promoted by Department of New and Renewable energy sources in partnership with an NGO. Rani-Dhera is bubbling with activities and per capita income of the village has gone up due to the availability of power and light.
One of the unique studies carried out by CSIR through the collaborative effort of over 150 scientists has led to innovation in Genetic mapping of Indian Population.
Innovation in Genetic Mapping of Indian Population: Indian Statistical institute, Kolkata and anthropologists from various institutes of India, and the Centre for Genomic Applications, Delhi, has generated genetic information on over 4000 genetic markers from over 1000 bio-medically important and Pharmaco-genetically relevant genes in reference populations encompassing diversity of populations from across the country. This study has resulted in clear genetic profile of our populations, explicitly indicating that there is a strong association between genetic and linguistic profiles in India and that there are significant genetic differences in the frequencies of disease-associated genetic markers. For example, this study has revealed that a known protective genetic marker against HIV-1 is virtually absent in India, implying the absence of natural or genetic protection against HIV-AIDS in our country.
Similarly friends, the industry and service sectors have shown marked growth and our economy is in the ascent phase right from 2003. All this clearly shows that the country’s landmark decision to become a nuclear weapon state has given strength to the nation. The confidence in the country has increased the spirit that “We can do it”. India has always risen to the occasion when we are constrained, the technological sanction after 1998 has not deterred our progress but has strengthened the minds of every Indian to become self-reliant in critical technologies. We should understand our own strength first in the scientific and technological achievements that we have made so far and give confidence and encouragement to the scientists who are working towards making the nation proud.
So can we ask: What drives innovation in India? India has a unique blend of ingredients. We have a shortage of capital, so we have to be very innovative to stretch our limited capital. By and large, the general perception is that the government agencies are not able to deliver citizen services effectively, at any level, be it national, state, or regional. But fortunately, we have had democracy, so that individual citizens have been free to evolve local solutions for local problems. Until now our local innovations have not been able to spread outside India excepting in certain sectors such as pharmaceutical, Banking, IT Enabled Services, Software and Automobiles and recently the nano car. Now is the time, for all of us to work together to make Indian innovation to become globalized and have a worldwide impact.
By, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
6. Speeches / Lectures
7. From His Diary
The environment in the home alternated by happiness and sadness. I used to get up at four in the morning, take bath and went to my teacher Swamiyar for learning mathematics. He will not accept students if they had not taken bath. He was a unique mathematics teacher and he used to take only five students for free tuition in a year. My mother used to get up before me, and gave bath to me and prepared me to go for the tuition. I use to comeback at 5:30 when my father would be waiting for taking me to the Namaz and Koran Sharif learning in Arabic school. After that I used to go to Rameswaram Road Railway station, three kilometers away to collect newspaper. Madras Dhanushkodi Mail will pass through the station but will not stop, since it was war time. The newspaper bundle will be thrown from the running train to the platform.
I used to collect the paper and run around the Rameswaram town and be the first one to distribute the newspapers in the town. My elder cousin brother was the agent who went away to Sri Lanka in search of better livelihood. After distribution, I used to come home at 8 AM. My mother will give me a simple breakfast with a special quota compared to other children because I was studying and working simultaneously. After the school gets over in the evening, again I will go around Rameswaran for collection of dues from customers. I still remember an incident which I would like to share with you. As a young boy I was walking, running and studying all together. One day, when all my brothers and sisters were sitting and eating, my mother went on giving me chapattis (even though we are rice eaters only, wheat was rationed). When I finished eating, my elder brother called me privately and scolded “Kalam do you know what was happening? You went on eating Chappati, and mother went on giving you. She has given all her chapattis to you. It is difficult time. Be a responsible son and do not make your mother starve”. First time I had a shivering sensation and I could not control myself. I rushed to my mother and hugged her. Even though I was studying in 5th class, I had a special place in my home because I was the last guy in the family. There used to be no electricity. Our house was lit by the kerosene lamp that too between 7 to 9 PM. My mother specially gave me a small kerosene lamp so that I can study up to 11 PM. I still remember my mother in a full moon night which has been portrayed with the title “mother” in my book “Wings of Fire”.
“I still remember the day when I was ten,
Sleeping on your lap to the envy of my elder brothers and sisters.
It was full moon night, my world only you knew Mother! My Mother!
When at midnight, I woke with tears falling on my knee
You knew the pain of your child, My Mother.
Your caring hands, tenderly removing the pain
Your love, your care, your faith gave me strength,
To face the world without fear and with His strength.
We will meet again on the great Judgment Day. My Mother!
This is the story of my mother who lived ninety three years, a woman of love, a woman of kindness and above all a woman of divine nature. My mother performed Namaz five times every day. During Namaz, my mother always looked angelic. Every time I saw her during Namaz I was inspired and moved.
8. Looking Beyond
National Emergency Service: A Vision
Energy Independence in India — A Perspective
World Knowledge Platform
Ambience in the Nation
Technology through Ages
Integrated Action for developed India
e-Courts leading to e-Judiciary — A Vision
Networking of Dental Centers
Innovation is the capital
Space Vision 2050
Next Generation BRAHMOS
Connectivity for societal transformation
9. Kalam Quotes
You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
My message, especially to young people is to have courage to think differently, courage to invent, to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible and to conquer the problems and succeed. These are great qualities that they must work towards. This is my message to the young people.
To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.
When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.
The bird is powered by its own life and by its motivation.
Creativity is the key to success in the future, and primary education is where teachers can bring creativity in children at that level.
Let me define a leader. He must have vision and passion and not be afraid of any problem. Instead, he should know how to defeat it. Most importantly, he must work with integrity.
You see, God helps only people who work hard. That principle is very clear.
One of the very important characteristics of a student is to question. Let the students ask questions.
We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.
Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.
We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage.
Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.
If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.
Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.
Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.
God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers.
Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.
Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.
Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.
Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.
The world has today 546 nuclear plants generating electricity. Their experience is being continuously researched, and feedback should be provided to all. Nuclear scientists have to interact with the people of the nation, and academic institutions continuously update nuclear power generation technology and safety.
Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person.
Almost half of the population of the world lives in rural regions and mostly in a state of poverty. Such inequalities in human development have been one of the primary reasons for unrest and, in some parts of the world, even violence.
Unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. In this world, fear has no place. Only strength respects strength.