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Early Life of APJ Abdul Kalam
The ‘Rocketman of India’ or the ‘Missile man of India’ was actually named as APJ Kalam (after his father Jainulabdeen) on his birth. Hailing from a small village in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu he was the fifth child in a busy household.
His parents were his earliest role models who did their best to feed and educate their children. A man of Islamic faith, APJ worked hard even as a child and used to go on newspaper routes to help ease the domestic situation.
From a tender age, it was clear that APJ was sharp as a student and he soon excelled at the school level. Not resting on his laurels he went on to graduate college in Physics. But he found his niche in Aerospace after enrolling to an engineering college in Madras.
Influenced by Vikram Sarabhai
His professional career began at DRDO’s aeronautical wing. In his early days, he was immensely influenced by another prominent scientist named Vikram Sarabhai who encouraged him to spread his wings.
However, his true crowning glory was to come in his second spell at the same organization when he would spearhead the design of Indian missiles strategy including intercontinental ballistic missile series called Agni etc.
This would cement his legacy as one of the leading scientists of his age. Between the two spells, Kalam was recruited by ISRO and helped develop several satellite launch vehicles etc.
Presidency and Personality
Apart from a scientist, Kalam was a true votary of human endeavour and equal opportunities. This was aptly proven when, for his national service, when he was named the first citizen of the country as President of the republic.
However, true to his humble beginnings Kalam never misused the position and often paid for expenses from his own pocket. In his personal life, he remained unmarried but always devoted to his family and friends.
The Last Mile
He would complete his term and then take up teaching post-presidency. Apart from academics he also penned a number of bestsellers including Wings of Fire and India 2020. In 2015, quite fittingly, the man left this world in his true elements. He died while giving a lecture. His was laid to rest in his village of Rameshwaram.
Not just a brilliant mind, APJ is regarded as one of the humblest, farsighted soul that our country has ever had. A recipient of Bharat Ratna, he is deservedly adored and his vision and leadership have inspired many a generation and still continue to do so.