Professor Abdul Kalam
Engineer, Technologist, Author, and
Eleventh President of India
A 200 per cent Indian. That's how colleagues of one of India's best-known scientists knew him even before his nomination for presidency. Today multi-faceted Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam is best known as the father of India's missile programme. Honoured with numerous awards by the Indian Government including the Bharat Ratna in 1997, Kalam has served the Indian Government in various capacities, including serving as Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India with the rank of a Union Cabinet Minister from November 1999 to November 2001.
Abdul Kalam was born in a middle-class Tamil family at Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram district of Tamil Nadu on October 15, 1931. While his father Jainulabdeen Marakayar, who rented boats to fishermen for a living, did not have much formal education, Kalam says he inherited honesty and self-discipline from him.
After a fairly secure childhood, during which he is said to have read as much as he could, he studied at the Madras Institute of Technology, where he specialised in Aero Engineering.
He has worked in leading defence and space organisations in research and managerial capacities. He contributed in a major way to the development of the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) III, which put the Rohini Satellite into orbit. He has also been chairperson to Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC).
A vegetarian, his interests include playing the veena and writing poetry. He has written two books, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India and India 2020: Vision for the New Millennium.
Abdul Kalam has been best known for his key role in the nuclear tests at Pokharan
in the Rajasthan desert on May 11 and 13, 1997. With most parties choosing
him as their presidential candidate, he has become the 11th Indian to join
a very select group.
At a Glance »
Full Name: Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
Date of Birth: October 15, 1931
Place of birth: Dhanushkodi, now in Tamil Nadu
Father: Jainulabdeen Marakayar
School: Schwartz High School, Ramanathapuram
College: St Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli, MIT, Madras
1950: Joined St Joseph's College, Tiruchirapalli for a BSc degree
1954-57: DMIT in Aeronautical Engineering at the MIT, Madras
1964: Joined DRDO as a technical assistant