Life Story and History of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

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Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, popularly known as the missile man of India needs no introduction. He was a prominent aerospace scientist and 11th president of India (2002 to 2007) and was widely known as people’s president. He played a leading role in the development of nuclear weapon and missile program in India.

APJ Abdul kalam’s Biography is a source of inspiration to many, let’s have a look on the life journey of Dr Kalam and the milestones he touched in his career. Dr Kalam’s views and thoughts were deeply appreciated by all and he was specifically popular among the students. Some of his famous quotes on education, dreams, etc. are –

“Education gives you wings to fly. Achievement comes out of fire in our subconscious mind that ‘I will win’.”

“Dream is not that which you see while sleeping it is something that does not let you sleep.”

“The world today is integrally connected through four rapid connectivities. They are environment, people, economy, and ideas.”

“Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action converts adversity into prosperity.”

“For a great men religion is a way of making friends; small people make religion a fighting tool.”

“A leader must have a ‘Vision’ for an organization, ‘Passion’ to work for achieving the goals, ‘Curiosity to travel an unexplored path and ‘Courage’ to take decisions.”

“It is easy to defeat someone, but it is very hard to win someone.”

APJ Abdul Kalam Life Story

APJ Abdul Kalam was born on October 15th, 1931in Rameswaram, then in Madras Presidency in British India and now in Tamil Nadu.

Dr Kalam worked as a science administrator and scientist for more than 40 years at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) and contributed to a great deal in the successful development of many projects.

Childhood of Dr Abdul Kalam – Abdul Kalam was born in a little educated Tamilian Family. Jainulabdeen, his father, was a boat owner and Ashiamma, his mother, was a homemaker. Though not rich, his home was filled with love and compassion.

Kalam was the youngest of the five siblings. At a very young age, he started working to support his father. He was close to his family and remained unmarried all his life.

As an average student, he got average grades in school but his desire to learn things made him a very bright and hardworking student. He focused on his studies and was interested in learning mathematics.

APJ Abdul Kalam Information


After completing elementary school, he graduated in Physics from St. Joseph’s College. After graduation, he went to Madras to study Aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology.

In his graduation third year, he was assigned a project with other students to design low-level attack aircraft. It was a difficult project to finish in the given deadline. Kalam performed well under immense pressure and due to his hard work was able to complete the project in a given time.

He dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot and secured 9th rank in the qualifiers list. He was not selected in it as only eight positions were available in the IAF. Dr Kalam handled his failure very well and didn’t let it demotivate him. Failing to pursue his dream of becoming a fighter pilot led him on a new trajectory (career path) that brought him immense satisfaction and success in his career.

Dr kalam’s life provides an excellent example of what is failure in life and how it should not stop you in achieving success later in life. Failure is inevitable. No one can claim that they have succeeded in everything in life. This is not to glorify failure but to help us understand and accept it as a part of life.

Dr Kalam’s successful career after failing to achieve his dreams shows us that sometimes failure can lead you to a different direction that offers more meaningful pursuits. Dreams when combined with hard work and perseverance lead to most beautiful and fulfilling successes in life. Failure is nothing but just a milestone that you cross.


As a Scientist –

After earning a degree in aeronautical engineering, he started working for DRDO in 1958 and later in ISRO as a project director.

As a scientist, the Inventions of Abdul Kalam contributed a great deal in the development and execution of the military missile development and civilian space program of India.

In 1958, he joined Aeronautical Development Establishment of the DRDO. Starting his career by designing a small hovercraft. Later he worked with INCOSPAR (Indian National Committee for Space Research) under renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai.

He visited NASA’s Research Center in Hampton and Wallops Flight Facility in 1963-64. After coming back from there in 1965 at DRDO, he started working independently on an expandable rocket project.

He wasn’t satisfied with his work at DRDO. He was happy to get transferred to ISRO in 1969. At ISRO, Kalam served as a project director of SLV-III (First satellite launch vehicle designed and produced in India).

In 1969, Kalam got the government’s approval to expand the program. In 1970, he started putting his efforts in polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) with an ambition to launch Indian Remote Sensing Satellite. PSLV was successful and was first launched on 20th September 1993.

In 1970s, Kalam worked in the development of two important projects named, Devil and Valiant. Project Devil was a liquid-fueled missile project that didn’t work out well and became unsuccessful and was discontinued in 1980. But later it led to the development of Prithvi missile.

Project Valiant which was for the development of the intercontinental ballistic missilewent unsuccessful. In 1980s, DRDO launched the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, in collaboration with other government organizations.

Kalam led this project and joined DRDO again in 1982, where he earned the nickname “Missile Man”. This program resulted in the development of 4 low-level short-range surface to surface Prithvi missile, the short-range low-level surface to air Trishul missile, the medium-range surface to air Akash missile, and 3rd generation anti-tank missile Nag.

This project was successfully led in the leadership of Dr Kalam and he was known as the “Missile Man of India.”

In 1992, Dr Kalam became the scientific adviser to the Defense Minister and in 1999 he was Principal Scientific Adviser to the government of India.

Dr Abdul Kalam played a key role in conducting a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions, Pokhran -II in May 1998. After the success of these tests India was declared as a Nuclear State and Dr. Kalam got the status of National Hero.

As a President of India (2002 – 2007)

In 2002, the NDA government suggested Dr Abdul Kalam’s name for the post of president of India.

Dr Kalam served as the President of India from 25th July 2002 to 25th July 2007. Dr Abdul Kalam was the first scientist and first bachelor who become the President of India.

Post Presidency

After relieving from the post of the President, Dr Kalam served the academic field and became a visiting professor in some of the leading universities in India like – IIM Shillong, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Indore, an honorary fellow of IISc Bangalore.

He served as a chancellor in Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram. Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University.

Abdul Kalam Death Date – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam died at the age of 83 on 27th July 2015, while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong he suffered a heart attack, his situation became critical and he died of cardiac arrest. Around 350,000 people attended the last rites of DrKalam.

APJ Abdul Kalam History and life story are a great source of inspiration to all. Despite his humble beginning and average performance in school he kept pursuing his dreams and contributed in the development and worked in the development of ballistic missile, the launch vehicle technology, and also played a major role in Pokhran -II Nuclear Tests and later he became the honorable President of India and an admirable ‘People’s President’.

In the End

The profile of Abdul Kalam is impressive and inspirational as it gives a clear message of hard work, diligence, pursuing your dreams with honesty and not letting failure stop you from trying hard or contributing.

He was a man of honor who achieved great heights in his career and contributed to the development of the nation’s security, while his life is an example of hard work, sacrifice, humble living and dedication. Dr Kalam was everyone’s favorite leader and is still remembered fondly and with respect for his contributions as a scientist and a President.

Dr Kalam authored several books like – India 2020: A vision for the New Millennium, Wings of Fire: An Autobiography, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India, The Luminous Sparks, Mission India, Inspiring Thoughts, You are Born to Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond, Envisioning and Empowered Nation, and many more. His life journey is inspirational.

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