Success Story of Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam


Sahaj Desai

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Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam – The Missile Man of India

Former President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was hailed as an Indian scientist who served the President’s term from 2002 to 2007. He studied aerospace engineering and physics and his last four decades were spent as an administrator of science.

He was also hailed as the ‘Missile Man of India’ because of his tremendous effort in missile development. He was bestowed with many prestigious honours among which Bharat Ratna is also included.

Early Life

A.P.J Abdul Kalam (15th October 1931- 27 July 2015) born in Rameswaram into a Tamil Muslim family in Tamil Nadu itself. He came from a humble background where his father, a boat owner and mother, a housewife brought him up. He used to distribute newspaper after the completion of his school so that he could support his father. What he had was a yearning to learn more. He was in Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School and later he went to Saint Joseph’s College from where he became a physics graduate. In 1955 he went to Madras to pursue his studies further in Madras.

Career As a Scientist

For the Indian army, A.P.J Abdul Kalam designed a mini helicopter. Major breakthrough came when he was transferred to ISRO catering to the project of SLV-III. Being the representative of TBRL, he acted as the representative of Smiling Buddha which was the first nuclear test to be conducted. In 1980s, his extensive research work and development brought many accolades and laurel to his name. From July 1992 onwards he served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the then Prime Minister. His role in the field of technological and political field is remarkable during the nuclear tests of Pokhran-II.

Career as the President of India

A.P.J Abdul Kalam won the election of President in 2002 by surpassing mammoth votes. His term as President was from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. He was backed by the parties of National Congress and Samajwadi Party. It was an easy victory for him and he became the 11th President of India. He received the highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna and the third person to do so. Occupying the seat of Rashtrapati Bhavan he was indeed the first bachelor and the first scientist as well. However, in 2012 he declined for the role of President for the second term.

Fondness for Education and Students

After retiring from the post of scientific adviser in 1999, his main mission was to interact with as many as 100,000 students. He felt the joy in meeting with the youth of the country particularly the high school students. He found a way to ignite their mind for the development of India.


He was delivering a lecture on 27th July 2015 at IIM Shillong where at 6:30 pm he suffered a heart attack massively and critical his condition was, he was shifted to Bethany Hospital where thereafter, he died of cardiac arrest.

Here is the list of honors and awards received by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the Indian aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.

Honorary Degrees

  • Distinguished Fellow – Institute of Directors, India, 1994
  • Honorary Fellow – National Academy of Medical Sciences, 1995
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science – University of Wolverhampton, UK, 2007
  • King Charles II Medal – UK, 2007
  • Honorary Doctor of Engineering – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 2008
  • International von Kármán Wings Award – California Institute of Technology, USA, 2009
  • Hoover Medal – American Society of Mechanical Engineers, USA, 2009
  • Doctor of Engineering – University of Waterloo, Canada, 2010
  • IEEE Honorary Membership – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, USA, 2011
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws – Simon Fraser University, Canada, 2012
  • Honorary Doctor of Science – University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 2014


  • 1981: Padma Bhushan – Government of India
  • 1990: Padma Vibhushan – Government of India
  • 1997: Bharat Ratna – Government of India
  • 1997: Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration – Government of India
  • 1998: Veer Savarkar Award – Government of India
  • 2000: SASTRA Ramanujan Prize – Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy, India
  • 2013: Von Braun Award – National Space Society

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