Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (born October 15, 1931, Tamil Nadu) was the eleventh President of India, serving from 2002 to 2007. A notable scientist and engineer, he is often referred to as the Missile Man of India. He is considered a progressive mentor, innovator and visionary in India. Kalam was the second apolitical figure in India’s history, to become its President, the first being Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. His term as president ended on July 25, 2007.
Kalam started working in DRDO in 1958 and then joined ISRO in 1963. He has made significant contribution to Indian satellite and launch vehicles of ISRO and also in the missile programme of DRDO. As project Director, SLV-III, he contributed for the design, development and management of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) that injected Rohini satellite in the near earth orbit. He was responsible for the evolution of ISRO’s launch vehicles programme and configurations. He rejoined DRDO in 1982 and conceived the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) for indigenous missiles. He was also Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999.
As Chairman, Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), he generated the Technology Vision 2020 documents – a road map for transforming India from Developing India to Developed India. He provided overall guidance to a number of Homegrown Technology Projects and major technology missions such as Sugar, Advanced Composites and Fly Ash utilization.
Kalam has received honorary doctorates from as many as thirty universities. The Government of India has honored him with the nation’s highest civilian honors: the Padma Bhushan in 1981; the Padma Vibhushan in 1990; and the Bharat Ratna in 1997.
Kalam has written several inspirational books, most notably his autobiography Wings of Fire, aimed at motivating Indian youth. Another of his books, Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life reveals his spiritual side. He has written poems in Tamil as well.
Kalam died on July 27, 2015 while delivering a speech at IIM Shillong.