Biography of Abdul Kalam

Abdul Kalam

Abdul Kalam was born in 1931.

Dr. A.J.P. Abdul Kalam is the chief architect of India’s missile programme.

The name Dr.Abdul Kalam and Indian missile have become synonymous.This is the reason why Abdul Kalam has earned nick name the “Missile Man”.

Dr. Kalam has devoted his life to building up India’s missile defense technology to be on a par with other developed countries.It was Dr.Kalam’s hard work and perseverance that India has successful tested missiles like Agni and Prithvi which have put China and Pakistan within the reach of India’s missile range.

Dr.Kalam graduated in science from St.Joseph’s College in Tiruchi.He completed his DMIT in Aeronautical Engineering at the MIT,Madras.Later,Dr. Kalam joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL),Bangalore,as a trainee.In 1958 Dr. Kalam joined the Directorate of Technical Development and Production(DTD & P) in the post of senior scientific assistant,where he worked at the Technical Center(Civil Aviation).

Under the able guidance of Dr.Neelakantan,director of DTD & P,Dr. Kalam worked on designing the models of combat aircraft.After three productive years Dr.Kalam was sent to lead a team out at the Aeronautical Development Establishment(ADE) in Bangalore,where he worked as a senior scientific assistant.Dr.Kalam and his small team of young scientist developed a prototype hovercraft.It was India’s first ever indigenously made hovercraft which was driven by Dr.Kalam himself.Dr. Kalam was made director of DRDO in 1982,where he was at the helm of India’s most ambitious defense project,the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme  (IGMDP).The IGMDP had programmed five measure project to consolidate India’s defense capability and they were scheduled to be completed in 10 years time .

The successful launch of Nag,Prithvi,Akash,Trishul and Agni firmly established India’s reputation in the eyes of developed countries as a force to be reckoned with,and the full of credit goes to Dr.Kalam.                                                                      Life took a new turn when Dr.Kalam was sworn in as the 11th President of India.

AVUL PAKIR JAINULABDEEN ABDUL KALAM,popularly known as Abdul Kalam ,was born on 15th October 1931 at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.Abdul Kalam was born into a middle class Tamil family. As a young boy Kalam was very fascinated by the flight of birds.At seeing birds flying freely in the sky was fulfilled when he became the first man from Rameshwaram to fly an aircraft.

His father,Jainulabudeen didn’t have any formal education,he was a man of great wisdom and intelligence also.He was a very religious man and believed in the service of humanity.He naturally Jainulabudden would take his son Kalam to the mosque where the father will seat for prayers to Allah,sitting in a corner,and very curious,his little son,Kalam would watch his father in a amazement.

Although there were many members in the family,Kalam’s childhood was spend in relative ease and comfort.He was the beloved son of his father.

Kalam has primary education in the Rameswaram Elementary School.At the age of 15 he joined the Schwartz High School in Ramanathapuram.Teachers at the Schwartz High School were very gentle and encouraged him to do something very special in life.Mr.Soloman would often tell to his students not to get disappointed at the failures and said we must learn a lesson from a mistakes and failure.Kalam was one of the favorite student of Mr.Soloman.Abdul Kalam completed his high school education at the Schwartz High School,and then joined St.Joseph’s College,Tiruchchirappalli,in 1950 at the age of 19.

During his time in St.Joseph College,he shared his room with two other students from different religious backgrounds.In spite of this,these students were very cooperative and helpful to each other.Kalam lived in St.Joseph’s College for four years.While living in St.Joseph’s college,Kalam came very close to the revered Father T.N Sequeira,who used to teach English,it was due to Sequeria that Kalam began to like English literature and started reading Tolstoy,Scott,Milton,Hardy,and so on.Kalam even wrote some poems in Tamil and English.One of the poems that Kalam wrote in the memory of his mother is given here.


Sea waves,golden sand pilgrims’faith,

Rameswaram Mosque steet ,all merge into one,

My Mother !

You come to me like heaven’s caring arms.

I remember the war days when life was challenge and toil-

Miles to walk, horus before sunrise,

Walking to take lessons from the saintly teacher near the temple.

Again miles to the Arab teaching school,

Climb sandy hills to Railway Station Road,

Collect, distribute newspapers to temple city citizens,

Few horse after sunrise,going to school.

Evening ,business time before study at night.

All this pain of a young boy,

My mother you transformed into pious strength

With kneeling and bowing five times

For the Grace of the Almighty only,My Mother.

Your strong piety is your children’s strength,

You always shared your best with whoever needed the most,

You always gave,and gave with faith in Him.

I still remember the day when I was ten,

sleeping on you lap to the envy of m elder brothers and sisters

It was full moon night,my world you knew


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 judgement Day,My Mother!


After graduating from St.Joseph,s College,Kalam joined the Madras Institute of Technology(MIT).He managed to get his name published among the successful candidates,but admission at the MIT was not so easy.He had to have around Rs.1000 rupees for the admission fee into the college and his father was unable to find that much money.This made Kalam feel hopeless and unable to find that much money.This made Kalam feel hopeless and unable  to think which way to turn for help.But luckily his sister Zohara came to the rescue and she mortgaged her bangles and her necklaces and gave the money to Kalam.Zohara had total confidence in the success of her brother ,she would often say that one day her brother would be a great man -and she was proved right.Kalam was indebted to his sister for her timely assistance and he vowed to pay off the debt and get all the bangles and necklaces back with his own earnings one day.

Kalam as a child

Kalam as a child

Kalam received the most apprropriate practical education at the MTS,this was the place where Kalam could fulfill his long cherished dream to fly an aircraft.He was thrilled when he found himself standing among the planes for the first time ever.He always felt a strange attraction while watching those aircraft.As he liked aircraft so much he opted for aeronautical engineering as his major subject to study at the MIT.

At the MIT Kalam came under the influence of three teachers.They were Professor Sponser,Kav Pandalai,and Narasingha Rao,these three teachers shaped Kalam’s thinking and made him even more ambitious than he was before.Also these teachers instilled a sense of self-confidence in Kalam that later helped tremendously in his life.

In ‘Wings of fire’,an autobiography of Kalam,he writes:”Professor Sponder taught me technical aerodynamics.He was an Austrian with a great deal of practical experience in aeronautical engineering.Prof. Sponder preserved his individually and maintained high professional standards.

Professor KAV Pandalai taught me aero structure design and analysis.He was a cheerful,friendly and enthusiastic teacher,who brought a fresh approach to every year’s teaching course.It was Professor Pandalai who opened up the secrets of structural engineering to us.Even today I believe that everyone who has been taught by Professor Pandalai would agree that he was a man of great intellectual integrity and scholarship-but with no trace of arrogance.

Professor Narsingha Rao was a mathematician,who taught us theoretical aerodynamics.I still remember his method of teaching fluid dynamics.After attending his classes,I began to prefer mathematical physics to any other subject.”

Kalam completed his third year at the MIT,then he joined the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL)at Bangalore,where he was as a trainee.Kalam received very important practical training there.His first training was to overhaul the engines of aircraft;it was quite educational to get practical knowledge of every part of the engine-come-drum operations was very important.He also receive training to check a crankshaft for twist were also very educational.

He joined the Directorate of Technical Development and Production (DTD & P) as a Senior Scientific Assistant in 1958,age 27.Soon after that he was posted to the Technical Center (Civil Aviation).Before Kalam joined the DTD & P he tried to get admission into the Indian Air Force,but he narrowly missed that opportunity.His dream actually of flying an aircraft was not fulfilled,so he was at the DTD & P,where his job was to make airplanes airworthy.

During his period in the DTD & P,he was entrusted to design the model of a supersonic target aircraft.He worked on the model of this aircraft and sent it to the Aircraft and Armament Testing Unit(A & ATU) at Kanpur.Later he was informed that the design of a DART target had been accepted. Kalam worked in the DTD and P for the three years.During this period the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE)was established in Bangalore where Kalam was posted to take up new assignments and also to face the real challenges of life.

At the ADE a project tea of four scientists was formed and their prime task was to design and develop an indigenous hovercraft.The team was led by Kalam .This team of young scientists were terribly lacking in the practical knowledge of  how to make this type of aircraft.The procedure for making hovercrafts baffled Kalam ‘s brains for quite a long time,but after a great deal of thought his team started to work on the project.With Kalam’s preservance and able leadership the young scientists succeeded in building India’s first indigenious hovercraft that took successfully with Defense Minister Krishan Menon and Kalam at the controls.

Abdul Kalam as president

Abdul Kalam as president

Despite the scintillating success of the hovercraft the project did not get more recognition .Kalam was sad end disappointed at seeing such a cold reaction from the authorities in charge.Then one day Professor MGK  Menon,Director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR),came to meet Kalam and asked his permission to fly the hovercraft,Kalam readily accepted the offer.Later on,Professor Menon invited Kalam to attend an interviewed by the famous personalities like Dr.Vikram  Sarabhai ,Professor M.G.K.Menon,and Mr.Saraf.

After his appointment to the TIFR,Kalam began to work to his full capacity.Sometime later the TIFR decided to send Kalam to America to receive six months special training on sounding rocket launching techniques at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)work centers.Dr.Kalam started working at NASA at the Langely Research Center(LRC) in Hampton,Virginia.This was a basically Research and Development  Center for advanced aerospace technology.After sometime Kalam was sent to the Goddard Space Flight Centre (GSFC)at Greenbelt,Maryland.

Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launch Station (TERLS)was established with the active collaboration of France,USA,and USSR.

After having failed in the first SLV-3 launch,Kalam and his team was very disenchanted for quite a long time,but they had still not lost their confidence and began to work on the project with an even greater amount of zeal and gusto.After examining,testing,and correcting the previous faults,the SLV-3 lifted  off in July 18,1980.This was a successful launch?The Rohini Satellite was put into orbit.This was indeed a great success in the space history of India and India became among the very few countries which possessed satellite launching capability.

The group of senior Indian scientists including Kalam had realized the need for a ‘Guided Missile Development Programme’to fortify India’s defence against enemy’s invasion.In the absence of powerful guided missiles the fortification of the our country,and Indian territories were still insecure and largely vulnerable.Hence,under the chairmanship of Kalam,a  committee was formed.The committee members were Z.P Marshall,chief of Bharat Dynamics Limited,Hyderabad,N.R Iyer,A.K Kapoor and K.S Venkataraman.The different missile launching programmes were conducted as per schedules.

“Trishul”,surface to air missile with short range was successfully launched in 1985.

“Prithvi”surface to surface battlefield missile,launched in 1988.”Agni”,an intermediate range ballistic missile,launched during 1990.

During to his long-standing service to Indian science and technology,Kalam was awarded the “Padma Vibhushan “in 190,the “Bharat Ratna”in 1997,and the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration”in 1997.

Kalam rose to the highest pedestal of his career when he was sworn in as the 11th President of India on July 25th 2002.At the age of 71 as a scientists and president of India every Indian is proud of Kalam .Some inspirational quotes of  Kalam:

“Unless India stands up to the world,no one will respect us.In this world,fear has no place.Only strength respects strength”.

We have not invaded anyone,we have not conquered anyone,and we have not grabbed their land,their culture,their history and tried to enforce our way of life on the.Why?Because,I guess,we respected the freedom of others.

We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power.Both must go hand in hand.

I have this big library at home and my favorite poets are Milton,Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore.I write poetry too.My book of poems,Yenuday Prayana,has now been translated into English.It is called “My Journey”.


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