Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen “A. P. J.” Abdul Dr. Kalam was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. A career scientist turned reluctant politician, Dr. Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.
Dr. Kalam was elected President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. After serving a term of five years, he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service. He received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Dr. Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in Rameswaram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. His father’s name was Jainulabudeen, a boat owner, and his mother Ashiamma, a housewife. His father owned a ferry that took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now-extinct Dhanushkodi. He came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his family’s income. After completing school, Dr. Kalam distributed newspapers to contribute to his father’s income. In his school years he had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn and spend hours on his studies, especially mathematics. After completing his education at the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, Dr. Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. Towards the end of the course, he was not enthusiastic about the subject and would later regret the four years he studied it. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. While Dr. Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Dr. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, “I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline”. He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF ( Indian Air Force )
WE SHALL NOT SEE ANOTHER APJ ABDUL KALAM LIKE OUR LATE PRESIDENT
DD Podhigai telecast an interview with Mr P M Nair retired IAS officer who was the secretary to Dr Kalam Sir when he was the President.
The points he spoke in voice choked with emotion have been summarized in succeeding paragraphs. Mr Nair authored a book titled “Kalam Effect”.
1. Dr Kalam used to receive costly gifts whenever he went as it is customary for many nations to give gifts to the visiting Head of state. Refusing the gift would become an insult to the nation and an embarrassment for India. So, he received them and on his return, Dr Kalam asked the gifts to be photographed and then catalogued and handed over to the archives. Afterwards, he never even looked at them. He did not take even a pencil from the gifts received when he left Rashtrapathi Bhavan.
2. In 2002, the year Dr Kalam took over, the Ramadan month came in July- August. it was a regular practice for the President to host an iftar party. Dr Kalam asked Mr Nair why he should host a party to people who are already well fed and asked him to find out how much would be the cost. Mr Nair told it costs around Rs. 22 lakhs. Dr Kalam asked him to donate that amount to a few selected orphanages in the form of food, dresses and blankets. The selection of orphanages was left to a team in Rashtrapathi Bhavan and Dr Kalam had no role in it. After the selection was made, Dr Kalam asked Mr Nair to come inside his room and gave him a cheque for Rs 1 lakh. He said that he is giving some amount from his personal savings and this should not be informed to anyone. Mr Nair was so shocked that he said “sir, I will go outside and tell everyone . People should know that here is a man who not only donated what he should have spent but he is giving his own money also”. Dr Kalam though he was a devout Muslim did not have Iftar parties in the years in which he was the President.
3. Dr Kalam did not like “yes sir” type of people. Once when the Chief Justice of India had come and on some point Dr Kalam expressed his view and asked Mr Nair, “Do you agree?”/ Mr Nair said “No sir, i do not agree with you”. The Chief Justice was shocked and could not believe his ears. It was impossible for a civil servant to disagree with the president and that too so openly. Mr Nair told him that the President would question him afterwards why he disagreed and if the reason was logical 99% he would change his mind.
4. Dr Kalam invited 50 of his relatives to come to Delhi and they all stayed in Rashtrapathi Bhavan. He organised a bus for them to go around the city which was paid for by him. No official car was used. All their stay and food was calculated as per the instructions of Dr Kalam and the bill came to Rs 2 lakhs which he paid. In the history of this country no one has done it. Now, wait for the climax, Dr Kalam’s elder brother stayed with him in his room for the entire one week as Dr Kalam wanted his brother to stay with him. When they left, Dr Kalam wanted to pay rent for that room also. Imagine a President of country paying rent for the room in which he is staying. This was any way not agreed by the staff who thought the honesty was getting too much to handle !!!.
5. When Kalam sir was to leave Rashtrapathi Bhavan at the end of the tenure, every staff member went and met him and paid their respects. Mr Nair went to him alone as his wife had fractured her leg and was bed ridden. Dr Kalam asked why his wife did not come. He replied that she was in bed due to an accident. next day, Nair saw lot of police men around his house and asked what had happened. They said that the President of India was coming to visit him in his house. He came and met his wife and chatted for some time. Mr Nair says that no president of any country would visit a civil servant’s house and that too on such a simple pretext.
MR.PM Nair IAS (Secretary) on – Late DR. APJ Abdul Kalam
Born : Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam,15 October 1931
Died : 27 July 2015 (aged 83) Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Alma mater : St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli Madras Institute of Technology
Nationality : Indian
Profession : Professor, Author, Aerospace scientist
? Dr. Kalam started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, but remained unconvinced with the choice of his job at DRDO.
? Dr. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Dr. Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near earth orbit in July 1980.
? Joining ISRO was one of Dr. Kalam’s biggest achievements in life and he is said to have found himself when he started to work on the SLV project.
? Dr. Kalam first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Dr. Kalam received the government’s approval and expanded the program to include more engineers.
? In 1963–64, he visited Nasa’s Langley Research Center in Hampton Virginia, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Flight Facility situated at Eastern Shore of Virginia.
? During the period between the 1970s and 1990s, Dr. Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar SLV and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be success.
? In the 1970s, Dr. Kalam also directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV Programme. Despite the disapproval of Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under Dr. Kalam’s directorship. Dr. Kalam played an integral role convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects.
? His research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile program under his directorship.
? Dr. Kalam and Dr. V. S. Arunachalam, metallurgist and scientific adviser to the Defense Minister, worked on the suggestion by the then Defense Minister, R. Venkataraman on a proposal for simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one by one. R Venkatraman was instrumental in getting the cabinet approval for allocating 388 crore rupees for the mission, named Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (I.G.M.D.P) and appointed Dr. Kalam as the Chief Executive.
? Dr. Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the mission including Agni, an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithvi, the tactical surfaceto- surface missile, although the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns.
He was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of Defence Research and Development Organization from July 1992 to December 1999.
? The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period where he played an intensive political and technological role. Dr. Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator, along with R. Chidambaram during the testing phase. Photos and snapshots of him taken by the media elevated Dr. Kalam as the country’s top nuclear scientist. ? In 1998, along with cardiologist Dr.Soma Raju, Dr. Kalam developed a low cost Coronary stent. It was named as “Dr. Kalam-Raju Stent” honoring them.
? In 2012, the duo, designed a rugged tablet PC for health care in rural areas, which was named as “Dr. Kalam-Raju Tablet”.
Dr. Kalam served as the 11th President of India, succeeding K. R. Narayanan. He won the 2002 presidential election with an electoral vote of 922,884, surpassing the 107,366 votes won by Lakshmi Sahgal. His term lasted from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. On 10 June 2002, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was in power at the time, expressed that they would nominate Dr. Kalam for the post of President, and both the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party backed his candidacy. After the Samajwadi Party announced its support for Dr. Kalam, Narayanan chose not to seek a second term in office, leaving the field clear. Dr. Kalam said of the announcement of his candidature:
I am really over whelmed. Everywhere both in Internet and in other media, I have been asked for a message. I was thinking what message I can give to the people of the country at this juncture.
On 18 June, Dr. Kalam filed his nomination papers in the Indian Parliament, accompanied by Vajpayee and his senior Cabinet colleagues.
The polling for the presidential election began on 15 July 2002 in Parliament and the state assemblies, with the media claiming that the election was a one-sided affair and Dr. Kalam’s victory was a foregone conclusion; the count was held on 18 July. Dr. Kalam became the 11th president of the Republic of India in an easy victory and moved into the Rashtrapati Bhavan after he was sworn in on 25 July. Dr. Kalam was the third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, before becoming the President. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr Zakir Hussain (1963) were the earlier recipients of Bharat Ratna who later became the President of India. He was also the first scientist and the first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhawan. During his term as president, he was affectionately known as the People’s President, saying that signing the Office of Profit Bill was the toughest decision he had taken during his tenure. In September 2003, in an interactive session in PGI Chandigarh, Dr. Kalam supported the need of Uniform Civil Code in India, keeping in view the population of the country.
At the end of his term, on 20 June 2007, Dr. Kalam expressed his willingness to consider a second term in office provided there was certainty about his victory in the 2007 presidential election. However, two days later, he decided not to contest the Presidential election again stating that he wanted to avoid involving Rashtrapati Bhavan from any political processes. He did not have the support of the left parties, Shiv Sena and UPA constituents, to receive a renewed mandate.
Nearing the expiry of the term of the 12th President Pratibha Patil on 24 July 2012, media reports in April claimed that Dr. Kalam was likely to be nominated for his second term. After the reports, social networking sites were notable for people supporting his candidature. The BJP potentially backed his nomination, saying that the party would lend their support if the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and Indian National Congress proposed him for the 2012 presidential election. A month ahead of the election, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee also expressed their support for Dr. Kalam. Days afterwards, Mulayam Singh Yadav backed out, leaving Mamata Banerjee as the solitary supporter. On 18 June 2012, Dr. Kalam declined to contest the 2012 presidential poll. He said of his decision not to do so:
Last Day Of Life
Dr. Kalam died of a massive cardiac arrest on the evening of 27 July 2015 after he collapsed while delivering a lecture on ‘Livable Planet’ at Indian Institute of Management Shillong. Following the collapse on around 6.30 pm, Dr. Kalam, was wheeled into Bethany hospitals’ ICU in a critical condition but he was confirmed dead after more than two hours he was taken to the hospital. Dr. Kalam would have turned 84 in October 2015. Governor of Meghalaya, V. Shanmuganathan rushed to the hospital on hearing the news of Dr. Kalam’s admission.Later Shanmughanathan said Dr. Kalam died at 7.45 pm even after medical team’s best efforts to revive Dr. Kalam. On 28 July, morning Chief Secretary PBO Warjri told reporters that he had spoken to Union Home Secretary, L.C. Goyal asking for arrangements to be made for carrying Dr. Kalam’s body to Delhi from Guwahati. Former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was Laid to Rest with Full State Honours at his Hometown Rameswaram on 30 Jul 2015