MISSILE MAN TO PRESIDENT

As the nation remembers its 11th President Avul Pakir Jainulabudeen Abdul Kalam on his fifth death anniversary today, the great contributions of the man who made it from a poverty stricken family to a missile man and from missile man to the President of largest democracy, have proved to be most relevant in the current scenario with the threat of World War-III looming large amid the global pandemic COVID-19. While Kalam was closely involved in India’s civilian space programme and military missile development, earning him the sobriquet ‘Missile Man’, he played a pivotal technical and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Another significant contribution was that he also explored how defence or aerospace technology could be applied to save lives. APJ Abdul Kalam, a vegetarian bachelor, once stated that like most of the technology he spearheaded, he himself was “Made in India”, having never been trained abroad. Really an irony that today ‘Made in India’ has become the key word in India’s strides towards manufacturing everything in India instead of depending on importing the same. The best homage to the personality par excellence who made it to the highest Executive head of the nation despite belonging to a very poor family is that all Indians go through the life history of Kalam and imbibe the principles and the path of simplicity, hard work and dedication followed by him throughout his life rising to the highest office of the nation and proving to be the most effective President of the nation. Belonging to a poverty dominated background Kalam started working at an early age to supplement his family’s income. After completing school, Kalam distributed newspapers to contribute to his father’s income. After completing his education at the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, 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. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering. He spent four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. He came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. After leaving office of the President, Kalam became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Management Indore, an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram, professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University and an adjunct at many other academic and research institutions across India. He taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University. A role model for students and young people Kalam was always happy to be among them and educational institutions. In May 2012, Kalam launched a programme for the youth of India called the ‘What Can I Give Movement’ with the central theme of defeating corruption. So let the young and aged alike pay the best tribute to the Indian missile man by imbibing his simplicity, agility and urge to strive till last breath to serve the humanity for making the earth a livable planet as tweeted by him hours before leaving his mortal remains.