Born on 15 October 1931 at Dhanushkodi in the Rameswaram district of Tamil
Nadu, Abdul Kalam's father had to rent boats out to fishermen to pay this
genius' school fees. He received secondary education at the Schwartz School, a
missionary institute in Ramanathapuram, and later joined the St Joseph's College
at Tiruchirrapalli, where he graduated with a Bachelor in Science. Abdul Kalam
went on to study Aeronautical Engineering at the Madras Institute of
"Do things yourself. Do not indulge in short-cuts by importing equipment",
thundered the great scientist after the famed Pokhran-2 nuclear blasts in 1998.
A strong advocate of this philosophy, he distributed newspapers at a young age
to help with household expenses.
Thoroughly Indian, the only brief exposure that he got abroad was in 1963-64
when he was invited by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
to spend four months in the United States at the Wallops Island Rocketry Centre
and the Langley Research Centre.
Abdul Kalam joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
in 1958 and in his forty-year career as a scientist, achieved many milestones.
He later joined the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) where he
succeeded in putting the 35-kg Rohini-I satellite on a low-earth orbit with help
of the SLV-III (Satellite Launch Vehicle). After spending 19 fruitful years in
ISRO, he returned to DRDO to head the country's Integrated Missile
Development Programme, which culminated in the successful launch of the Agni
and Prithvi missiles.
A great humanitarian, he extended his knowledge of space technology and
mechanisms to help disabled children, replacing their 3-kg metal supporters with
very light braces made of carbon, which weigh just 300 grams.
A vegetarian and a teetotaller, Abdul Kalam recites the Quran and the Bhagvad
Gita with equal ease. A confirmed bachelor, his modesty is evident from the fact
that he gives all the credit to his colleagues. He burst into the limelight after the
Pokhran nuclear explosions in 1998. Totally dedicated to the development of the
nation, he has been felicitated with many national awards. He was awarded the
Padmabhushan in 1981, the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and the HK Firodia Award
for Excellence in Science and Technology in 1996. More recently, he was
honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 1998, the highest civilian award in India.
Abdul Kalam is a dreamer. He dreamt of a strong India. "We must think and
like a nation of a billion people." His next goal is to produce a reusable missile
which no country in the world has been able to produce. And judging by his
earlier achievements, this invention does not seem a distant possibility for this
India has the capability to retaliate with 'multiple effect' if someone
weapons against it, former Principal Scientific Advisor Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said here on
When reporters sought his opinion whether India had got the right to use
weapon as a deterrent, Kalam said India adopted 'the no first-use philosophy'.
"But, India can and has the capability to retaliate with multiple effect," he said.
Earlier, Kalam told reporters at Pollachi, about 35 kms from here, that
India, with a
billion people, had all "weapons" to face any situation.
But Indians did not believe in themselves and "once you start believing
you can face any challenge," Kalam said.
"The day you don't beleive in yourselves, you are in deep trouble," he
said, adding the
message about India's strength should be spread.