Mumbai, July 28: Today will be marked as a dark day in the history of the country. One of the foremost scientists of India, a Bharat Ratna, the Missile Man of India and the true ‘People’s President’, Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of the biggest democracy of the world, passed away due to cardiac arrest, while he was delivering a speech at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong.
While his success story is known by many and has inspired scores of Indians and will continue to do so, here are some lesser known facts about India’s most loved President’s life and work, that every Indian must know:
1.) Kalam came from a poor family background
Mr.Kalam’s father Jainulabudeen was not formally educated and was into the boat building business, he used to ferry people between Dhanuskodi and his hometown of, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. He came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his family’s income. Kalam himself used to sell newspapers at the age of eight to supplement the family income.
2.) He struggled to pay his education fees
At the time of admission into MIT (Madras Institute of Technology), he did not have the money to pay thousand rupees as fee, his father could not afford that amount of money. His sister mortgaged her gold bangles, to get the money for admission.
3.) Kalam as a scientist in DRDO
Kalam joined Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist. His first achievement in his career was designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, though he remained unconvinced and dissatisfied with the choice of his job at DRDO.
4.) Kalam was a part of country’s first nuclear test
Kalam without participating in its development, test site preparation and weapon designing was invited by Raja Ramanna to witness the country’s first nuclear test Smiling Buddha as the representative of TBRL.
5.) Mr.Kalam took great care of his colleagues
A co worker had promised his kids that he would take them to the local carnival after returning from work, the co-worker had also obtained the prior permission of Mr.Kalam to leave early. The colleague was so engrossed in his work that it was well into the evening when he realised that he had made a promise to his kids. On rushing back home, he came to know through his wife that Mr.Kalam had come earlier and taken his kids to the carnival.
6.) The awards and honors
The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Bhushanin 1981 and the Padma Vibhushanin 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. APJ Abdul Kalam has received India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his immensely precious contribution to the scientific research and modernization of defense technology in India.
7.) The Youth Icon
In 2003 and in 2006 he was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award.
8.) A global Icon
The former president who was simplicity personified, was even recognized by Switzerland government for his scientific prowess. The day he visited Switzerland was comemorated at the Science Day in the country.
9.) Kalam was criticized for lackadaisical approach towards his Presidential post
Kalam was judged for inaction as a President in deciding the fate of 20 out of the 21 mercy petitions. According to the Article 72, of the Constitution of India, the President of India has the power to grant pardon, suspend and remit death sentences and commute the death sentence of convicts on death row. But he didn’t apply those powers on the mercy petitions of the 20 convicts.
10.) Kalam the stalwart
In his book India 2020, Kalam strongly advocated an action plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and a developed nation by the year 2020. He regards his work on India’s nuclear weapons programme as a way to assert India’s place as a future superpower. Other books authored by him are Envisioning an Empowered Nation, Ignited Minds, My Journey, Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology, The Luminous Sparks, The Life Tree, Mission India, Children Ask Kalam, Guiding Souls, Indomitable Spirit and Inspiring Thoughts. These books are treasure for every Indians. there was a considerable demand in South Korea for translated versions of books authored by him.
2015 Kashmir Despatch