39 Interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen “A. P. J.” Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India, serving from 2002 to 2007. Kalam was born and raised in RameswaramTamil Nadu, and studied physics and aerospace engineering.

He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts.

39 Interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam

that will inspire you, teach you and give you an insight into the great life and simple being of “the People’s President,” APJ Kalam.

1. APJ Kalam was born on October 15, 1931 into a poor family. His father had only one boat to support his family.

2. Kalam was a hardworking boy right from the beginning. At the tender age of five, he started selling newspapers to help his father support the family. He did this job in the evenings after school. He also spent a great deal of time on his studies.

Interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam: Kalam’s Home

3. Kalam was fascinated by physics and mathematics.

4. Kalam completed his graduation from Saint Joseph’s College, Trichurapally in 1954. In 1955, he enrolled at the Madras Institute of Technology.

5. Kalam missed an opportunity to become a fighter pilot for the Indian Air force. He was on the ninth spot on the list, and there were only eight openings. The first eight shortlisted candidates were recruited.

6. In 1960, Kalam became involved with DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment.

7. In 1969, Kalam was made the project director for Satellite Launch Vehicles and was shifted to ISRO. The project became successful, and India, under the directorship of Kalam, was able to launch the Rohini satellite series into Earth’s orbit.

8. Kalam was known as the ‘Missile Man’ of India due to his continued, successful work with ballistic missiles and launch-vehicle technology.

9. Kalam also made significant contributions to the nuclear capabilities of India. The Pokhran -2 nuclear tests (in 1998) were successful thanks to his organizational and technical support.

10. Kalam was honored with many awards, including the highest civilian award in the country, the Bharat Ratna (1997). His other awards include Padma Bhushan (1981) and Padma Vibhushan (1990).

11. Interestingly, he was also honored with doctorates from 40 universities.

12. Inspired by his life, a Bollywood movie was also produced with the title, I Am Kalam.

13. Kalam is a source of inspiration for millions of people in India and around the world.

14. Kalam became the president of the largest democracy of the world –India – on July 25, 2002. He was known as “the People’s President” because of his simple and down-to-earth attitude.

15. Prez Kalam also had a soft spot for students and children. He inspired millions of young children, answering their questions and meeting with them during his tours across the country until the day of his sad demise. He believed that the children are the future of any nation.

16. Kalam was frisked twice at JFK Airport in New York. He was checked for explosives by the airport staff. This incident was protested by India on the international level.

17. He was once asked by a journalist how would he like to be remembered: as a scientist, a president or a teacher. And he replied smilingly – “I want to be remembered as a teacher first and then as any other person.”

18. After the term of his presidency, he became busier as a visiting professor at various institutes of management and leadership including those located at Ahmadabad, Indore and Shillong.

19. Kalam’s visit to Switzerland is commemorated as Science Day in the country. This declaration in his honor was made by the Swiss government after the sad demise of this great personality.

20. Kalam wrote a great deal of poetry in Tamil, and was very fond of playing a musical instrument known as the Veena.

21. A fun fact about APJ Abdul Kalam is that although he was a Muslim, he was also a strict vegetarian.

22. During his presidency, Kalam was so beloved that people requested that he take the office again after Pratibha Patil’s term as president. However, he politely refused.

23. Kalam is the first unmarried president and scientist in India.

24. Kalam is among only three presidents of India who were conferred the Bharat Ratna before they were elected President.

25. Kalam followed only one cricketer on his Twitter account – VVS Laxman. Kalam followed a total of 38 people on this social media account.

26. Kalam would get up at 4:00 am to take his mathematics lessons. He would also take a bath before going to class, which was a condition imposed on all the students by the teacher.

27. Kalam valued Dr. Vikram Sarabhai as his mentor. He turned to this other great scientist of Indian origin for advice and support.

28. Kalam’s first major project, SLV-3, failed, and he was shattered.

29. He was awarded with the MTV Youth Icon award twice, in 2003 and 2006.

30. On his last day, he was delivering a lecture at IIM, Shillong. He was standing at the podium delivering his speech to hundreds of students when he suffered a cardiac arrest that made him fall to the floor. He always had a passion for teaching and working hard. And at the time when death captured him, he was doing what he loved.

Interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam: His last picture before the cardiac arrest from IIM Shillong

31. Kalam also acted as a scientific advisor to the government of India.

32. He donated his presidential salary to charity. He formed a trust named PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas), and donated his salaries to this trust when he became aware that the government takes care of its presidents.

33. He also refused to sit on special chairs during events because he was a humble man and always promoted equality.

34. Kalam was a great communicator. Once Kalam used Yahoo Answers to ask a question about terrorism. He asked, “What should we do to free our planet from terrorism?” He received more than 30,000 responses.

35. Kalam’s wish was to power the Rashtrapati Bhawan completely with solar power. However, this could not be implemented during the term of his presidency.

36. Kalam started his career as a boy selling newspapers, and became the president of the world’s largest democracy. He also pursued and envisioned many things during the course of his life, transforming and inspiring millions of people both locally and globally.

37. Kalam would take the sole blame for losses and setbacks, but gave all credit to his team when they achieved anything under his leadership. Such were the qualities of the “Missile Man.”

38. He also published his autobiography, Wings of Fire, which was co-authored with Arun Tiwari. It gives a detailed account of his childhood, his personal life and career; it has been translated into 13 languages including French and Chinese.

39. And he was an avid reader and writer. He authored no less than 15 books on various topics, including nuclear physics and spiritual experiences.

These were 39 interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam. He was a beloved president, mentor, visionary, scientist and, above all, a very humble human being.

Books by the remarkable ex president APJ Abdul Kalam:

  • Wings of Fire [His autobiography]
  • 2020-A Vision for the New Millennium
  • 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
  • Inspiring Thoughts

10 Inspirational Quotes by APJ Abdul Kalam:

  1. “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”
  2. “All birds find shelter during a rain. But the eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds.”
  3. “If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.”
  4. “Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but synthetic happiness.”
  5. “Without your involvement, you can’t succeed. With your involvement, you can’t fail.”
  6. “Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me.”
  7. “Economy forced me to become a vegetarian, but I finally starting liking it.”
  8. “You see, God helps only people who work hard. That principle is very clear.”
  9. “No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion.”

and our favorite:

10. “All of us do not have equal talent. But all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”

Some quick facts about APJ Abdul Kalam

Born15 October 1931, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India.
Died27 July 2015, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Age At the time of death84 years
Field of WorkAeronautical Science, Politics, Teaching
AwardsBharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and many more
ContributionsScience and Politics