Today marks the 88th birth anniversary of the former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr Kalam who was born in a coastal town of Rameswaram in Tamilnadu was also affectionately called the People’s President and Missile Man of India. Remembering any such great personalities would be to steer on their vision and path. On the occasion of Dr Kalam’s birth anniversary, it is an opportunity for us to reflect whether India is following his ideals in achieving greater heights.
The illustrious career of Dr Kalam had many milestones to its credit as listed out below. But to summarise it, Dr Kalam had a great thrust upon younger generation which was often reflected by his constant interactions with children. Today, the spirit of it can be seen in the initiatives like Atal Tinkering Labs. Dr Kalam was all for peace but he also new the importance of India being a nuclear power and having the defence capabilities on our side. With the test of Anti-satellite missile and capacity building measures in defence sector such as the induction of Rafale, the New India is living up to the true spirit of Dr Kalam’s thinking.
- As Project Director of the Mission for SLV-3, He played a crucial role in developing satellite launch vehicle technology and expertise in control, propulsion and aerodynamics. The SLV-3 project managed to put Rohini, a scientific satellite, into orbit in July 1980.
- He Joined DRDO in 1982 as Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) and was instrumental in design and testing of AGNI, TRISHUL, PRITHVI, AAKASH and NAG missiles. For having successfully leading this program, he was awarded the Padma Vibushan by the Government of India and earned the moniker of ‘Missile Man of India’ from the masses.
- He was Secretary of DRDO and Scientific advisor to Defence Minister from 1992 to 1997 and played a crucial role in planning and execution of Pokhran-II nuclear tests which made India a Nuclear weapon state. After retiring from DRDO, he became Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India with rank of cabinet minister and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications.
- He was awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 1997 for his contribution in field of space science and defence technology.
- As Chairman of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) and as an eminent scientist, he led the country with the help of 500 experts to arrive at Technology Vision 2020 giving a road map for transforming India from the present developing status to a developed nation.
- In 2002, National Democratic Alliance led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Nominated Dr Kalam as their nominee for the President of India and Dr Kalam served as the President of India from 25th of July, 2002 to 25th of July, 2007. As President of India, he opened the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan to all citizens particularly to the youth of India and inspired millions of citizens to bring change to India in their own small way.
- Even after his retirement, he continued to contribute to society by teaching and lecturing students throughout the country and reiterating his Vision 2020 plan for building a developed India by 2020.
In a moving tribute after Dr Kalam’s death, Prime Minister Modi said that Bharat has lost a Ratna and asked people to look at our world through his eyes, and with the same missionary zeal to realise the dream of Dr Kalam, which is India to become a knowledge super power.
Mission Shakti launched by DRDO which demonstrated India’s ability to shoot down satellite joining USA, Russia and China to have Anti-satellite missile capability is a continuation of Dr Kalam’s Incredible work in development of India’s missile systems.
One of pet themes of Dr Kalam was Project PURA (Providing Urban amenities to Rural Areas) and is taken forward toward by Government of India schemes like Rurban Mission, PM-Gram Sadak Yojana and PM-Awas Yojana.
As an eminent scientist, Dr Kalam encouraged students to explore and innovate in field of science and find solutions to problems India faces through science. Atal Innovation Mission and Hackathons are giving a stage to students for encouraging innovation and kindling passion in science.
So, India can proudly assert at this juncture that it is following the vision of Dr Kalam, which is a true tribute to the eminent scientist.