Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was the 11th President of India, and probably the most popular one. This youth icon is also popularly known as the Missile Man because of his countless contributions like, the development of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle, SLV-III, which put the Rohini Satellite in the near earth orbit in July 1980, making India a member of the Space Club. Here are some interesting facts about A.P.J. Abdul Kalam-
1. Early life and family
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October, 1931 at the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, in a Tamil Muslim family. His father was, Jainulabudeen, a boat owner, and his mother Ashiamma, a housewife, and Kalam was the youngest of their 5 children.
2. Educational background
Kalam did his schooling from the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, and Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. In 1954, he completed his graduation in physics from the University of Madras, and studied aerospace engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.
3. Childhood hard times
His early childhood was difficult because of the poor financial condition of his family. So, inorder to support them, Kalam used to distribute newspapers in early mornings. There was a time in his school period when he did’t have enough money to pay the fees.
4. Kind nature of Kalam
He used to see things with the glass of kindness. When he was in DRDO, he ordered not to put broken glass on the wall for its protection as it will harm birds.
5. Why The Missile Man of India?
Kalam was indeed the Missile Man of India because:
– he was the think tank behind India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III).
– he was the project director of India’s first satellite ‘Rohini’.
– when in DRDO, he was the chief of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and developed 5 missiles: Nag, Akash, Trishul, Agni, Prithvi.
– he was the backbone of the operation and development of Prithvi and Agni missiles and also designing indigenous weapons by bringing together various institutions.
-he led to the formation of BrahMos Aerospace between Russia and India.
Source: oneindia.com, image: idrw.org
6. A proud Bharat Ratna
In 1997, Kalam was honoured with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of theRepublic of India, by K. R. Narayanan who was then the President of India.
Source: Wikipedia, image: colorlibrary.blogspot.com
7. Highly followed on twitter
The youth loves him for his interactive and easily approachable nature, and has got 1.37 Million followers on Twitter
8. Addressed 400 students without electricity
After becoming president in 2002, he was supposed to address students at a school function. But when he reached there to start his speech, the electricity suddenly went off. Instead of complaining, he asked the students to gather around to listen to him.
9. Read both Bhagvad Gita and Quran
Although he was a Muslim, but was brought up in a multi-religious environment. He used to read both Bhagvad Gita and Quran, and along with that he was expert in playing Saraswati and Veena.
Source: oneindia.com, image: youtube.com
10. His Vegetarianism
Kalam was a vegetarian, and was very fond of his mother’s cooked food, such as rice and sambar with coconut chutney, vendhya kozhambu and puliyodare.
11. Ego-less Kalam
When he was at ISRO, there was a period when his team faced a series of failures of tests, he accepted it as his own mistake. But one huge success and he is nowhere to be seen, instead, sent his fellow scientists to talk to the press.
12. His mentor
Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, an Indian physicist and the father of India’s space programme was his mentor and guide. Apart from him, he was also inspired by professor Satish Dhawan and Dr. Brahm Prakash.
13. Kalam as an author
He has written many inspirational books, such as: Wings of Fire, India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, The Luminous Sparks , Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India, Inspiring Thoughts, A Manifesto for Change, etc.
14. Saved money for social cause
When he was the president of India, he used to donate all his savings for the social cause to ‘Pura’ an NGO working in the remote areas to provide villages the basic infrastructures.
15.Refused special chair for him
There were two incidents where he refused to sit on a special chair given to him at events, and instead, asked for regular chair because he did not want to be presented as a superior.
16. Mistreatment at New York Airport
In 2011, on his arrival at the New York’s JFK Airport, he was forced to take his jacket and shoes off for security check for explosives which was the most insulting day for every Indian.
17. Smiled when death stared at him
Look at his positivity! In 2001, when he had boarded the helicopter from Ranchi, on the way to Bokaro he was informed about some issues with the helicopter’s rotor. Though, it was a death alarm for the cockpit crew, but he composed everyone with his signature smile and advised the two pilots not to worry.
18. Criticized for uncaring attitude towards mercy petitions
As the President of India he had the power to grant pardon, suspend and remit death sentences and commute the death sentence of convicts on death row. But, throughout his tenure he didn’t use these powers on the mercy petitions of the 20 convicts, and was criticized for that by some.
19. The Youth Renaissance Day
Following his death, the Tamil Nadu state government announced that his birthday, 15 October, would be observed across the state as “Youth Renaissance Day”, and also the state government further instituted “Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award.”
20. Personal life
His personal and professional life was fully dedicated to the nation, and was the first unmarried person to become the President of India.
21. Awards received
He was inducted with almost every honour and award possible, such as: Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Veer Savarkar Award, Doctor of Science, Hoover Medal, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, King Charles II Medal Royal Society, MTV Youth Icon, etc.