Last updated on March 16th, 2020
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 Rameswaram, Tamil 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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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