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APJ Abdul Kalam: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About India’s Missile Man

Before he was anything, Abdul Kalam was literally nothing. He grew up in poverty, his father taking whatever jobs he could find to support the family. Through hard work and dedication, Abdul Kalam found success as a scientist and served with distinction during India’s nuclear weapons testing in 1998. The article shares 7 interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam, including how he mentored Yo Yo Ma and passed on his love for aviation to the next generation.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About India’s Missile Man

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was a rocket scientist who led India’s missile program in the 1980s, and then served as president of India from 2002-2007. Dr. Kalam passed away on July 27, 2015, at the age of 83.

  1. He earned his doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai.
  2. Dr. Kalam’s success as a missile scientist led to him being selected for the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in 1971. He was one of only three scientists selected to work on a project called Safir, which was never deployed, but given its potential, he was offered a lucrative job at the DRDO.
  3. Dr. Kalam’s work with Safir prompted him to pursue an M.Sc in aerospace engineering from IIT Kanpur and later a Ph.D in rocket technology at Stanford University — both in the United States — after his rise in the Indian government did not allow him to travel abroad.
  4. Dr. Kalam was appointed as a scientific adviser to India’s President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who instructed him to set up a Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in 1986 to build India’s own missiles and rockets for defense purposes. This small step started his personal campaign against corruption in the military establishment and led to the formation of several committees that were based on his reports over many years .
  5. In 1998, he was named the country’s first full-time National Security Advisor (NSA). Dr. Kalam introduced an improved version of India’s indigenous nuclear weapon — a supersonic cruise missile called the Prithvi missile that can be launched from road-mobile launch vehicles, or MRVs. The launch platforms were all converted from Soviet-designed BMP-2 armoured personnel carriers and supported by aircraft to provide fire support during targeting operations.
  6. Dr. Kalam was a member of the National Security Advisory Board. He was also an honorary chairman of the Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi. He was the main speaker at the Indian Science Congress in August 2011 and spoke about India’s Defence needs and capabilities . Dr. Kalam wrote a number of books on various aspects of defence and national security which have been made into Films , Television Serials and Web series .
  7. Among other achievements, he is credited with developing India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, which has seen the development of the Prithvi and Akash missiles. He is credited with developing India’s Battlefield management System, which has been dubbed by India as ” Mission Shakti “.
  8. He was a member of National Security Council during the NDA regime .
  9. While in India, he served as the Advisor to the President of India on Strategic Affairs, Honorary Fellow at IIT Delhi and Visiting Fellow at IIT Bombay (Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses).
  10. He was a member of the National Security Advisory Board under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and had been made Director-General of Strategic Plans Division at NSCS. He had also served as Director General of Military Operations, Integrated Defence Staff, Chairman of the Chiefs’ Committee on Military Operations and, finally, as Vice-Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS).

What is APJ Abdul Kalam well known for in India?

APJ Abdul Kalam is well known for his contributions to India’s missile program. Kalam developed and built India’s first missile system in the 1950s as well as its nuclear weapons program. He was also behind the development of Bhakra Nangal Dam, India’s largest hydroelectric power plant.

Lessons from Abdul Kalam’s Life

The story of Abdul Kalam is one that has been written before. He was a high-energy engineer who worked his way up through a difficult life as a Muslim immigrant in India. What some people don’t know is that he also served as the president of India from 2002 to 2007. His life was full of achievements and accomplishments, but he was also very humble. He spent his life trying to bring everyone together through education. Although he started out in the sciences, he never stopped learning. He worked with the people who would become his friends and advisors throughout his life while still finishing school at night. In fact, one of his last classes was philosophy class where he learned about the power of the mind and its ability to change people’s lives.

Some Unknown Facts

The article lists seven myths about India that were revealed after Kalam’s death. They are:

  1. Kalam was a one-man show when it came to missile systems
  2. Kalam was not responsible for the missiles India had at the time
  3. Government did not ask for Kalam’s input
  4. Government did not care about public opinion
  5. Government did not pay much attention to the research and development of missiles at that time
  6. The government has no interest in promoting scientific knowledge among people who don’t have any knowledge of science
  7. There is a lack of political accountability for decision making
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