|Who is it?
|Former President of India
|October 15, 1931
|Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Indian
|89 YEARS OLD
|27 July 2015(2015-07-27) (aged 83)\nShillong, Meghalaya, India
|Atal Bihari Vajpayee Manmohan Singh
|Krishan Kant Bhairon Singh Shekhawat
|K. R. Narayanan
|Cause of death
|Cardiac arrest (Stroke)
|St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli Madras Institute of Technology
|Professor Author Aerospace scientist
|Bharat Ratna 1997 Padma Vibhushan 1990 Padma Bhushan 1981
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the renowned former President of India, is estimated to have a net worth ranging from $100K to $1M by 2024. Known for his significant contributions to science and technology, Abdul Kalam's net worth reflects his successful career in various fields. As a scientist, he played a key role in India's missile and nuclear weapons programs, leading to his recognition as the "Missile Man of India." Additionally, with his presidency from 2002 to 2007, Kalam left an indelible mark on the nation, fostering innovation, education, and youth empowerment. Throughout his life, Kalam's achievements and inspiring leadership have firmly established his place in Indian history.
I am really overwhelmed. Everywhere both in Internet and in other media, I have been asked for a message. I was thinking what message I can give to the people of the country at this juncture.
Kalam received 7 honorary doctorates from 40 universities. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. In 1997, Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence technology in India. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Von Braun Award from the National Space Society "to recognize excellence in the management and leadership of a space-related project".
Following his death, Kalam received numerous tributes. The Tamil Nadu state government announced that his birthday, 15 October, would be observed across the state as "Youth Renaissance Day;" the state government further instituted the "Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award," constituting an 8-gram gold medal, a certificate and ₹500,000 (US$7,700). The award will be awarded annually on Independence Day, beginning in 2015, to residents of the state with achievements in promoting scientific growth, the humanities or the welfare of students.
On the anniversary of Kalam's birth in 2015 the CBSE set topics on his name in the CBSE expression series.
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, ceremonially released postage stamps commemorating Kalam at DRDO Bhawan in New Delhi on 15 October 2015, the 84th anniversary of Kalam's birth.
Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), had discovered a new bacterium on the filters of the International Space Station (ISS) and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late president Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Several educational and scientific institutions and other locations were renamed or named in honour of Kalam following his death.
Wheeler Island, a national missile test site in Odisha, was renamed Abdul Kalam Island in September 2015.
A prominent road in New Delhi was renamed from Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road in August 2015.
In February 2018, scientists from the Botanical Survey of India named a newly found plant species as Drypetes kalamii, in his honour.
Kalam was the youngest of five siblings, the eldest of whom was a sister, Asim Zohra (d. 1997), followed by three elder brothers: Mohammed Muthu Meera Lebbai Maraikayar (born 4 November 1916), Mustafa Kalam (d. 1999) and Kasim Mohammed (d. 1995). He was extremely close to his elder siblings and their extended families throughout his life, and would regularly send small sums of money to his older relations, himself remaining a lifelong bachelor.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram on Pamban Island, then in the Madras Presidency and now in the State of Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque; his mother Ashiamma was a housewife. His father owned a ferry that took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now uninhabited Dhanushkodi. Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and one sister in his family. His ancestors had been wealthy traders and landowners, with numerous properties and large tracts of land. Their Business had involved trading groceries between the mainland and the island and to and from Sri Lanka, as well as ferrying pilgrims between the mainland and Pamban. As a result, the family acquired the title of "Mara Kalam Iyakkivar" (wooden boat steerers), which over the years became shortened to "Marakier." With the opening of the Pamban Bridge to the mainland in 1914, however, the businesses failed and the family fortune and properties were lost over time, apart from the ancestral home. By his early childhood, Kalam's family had become poor; at an early age, he sold newspapers to supplement his family's income.
In his school years, Kalam had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong Desire to learn. He spent hours on his studies, especially mathematics. After completing his education at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, "I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline". He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (by Press Information Bureau, Government of India) as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS). He started his career by designing a small hovercraft, but remained unconvinced by his choice of a job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project Director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980; Kalam had first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Kalam received the government's approval and expanded the programme to include more Engineers.
In 1963 to 1964, he visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; Goddard Space FLIGHT Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Wallops FLIGHT Facility. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be successful.
Kalam was invited by Raja Ramanna to witness the country's first nuclear test Smiling Buddha as the representative of TBRL, even though he had not participated in its development. In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the Technology of the successful SLV programme. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under Kalam's directorship. Kalam played an integral role convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these Classified aerospace projects. His research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in the 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile programme under his directorship. Kalam and Dr V S Arunachalam, metallurgist and scientific adviser to the Defence Minister, worked on the suggestion by the then Defence Minister, R. Venkataraman on a proposal for simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one after another. R Venkatraman was instrumental in getting the cabinet approval for allocating ₹388 crores for the mission, named Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and appointed Kalam as the chief executive. Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the mission including Agni, an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithvi, the tactical surface-to-surface missile, although the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns.
Kalam received 7 honorary doctorates from 40 universities. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. In 1997, Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence Technology in India. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Von Braun Award from the National Space Society "to recognize excellence in the management and leadership of a space-related project".
Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which he played an intensive political and technological role. Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator, along with Rajagopala Chidambaram, during the testing phase. Media coverage of Kalam during this period made him the country's best known nuclear scientist. However, the Director of the site test, K Santhanam, said that the thermonuclear bomb had been a "fizzle" and criticisied Kalam for issuing an incorrect report. Both Kalam and Chidambaram dismissed the claims.
In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent". In 2012, the duo designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".
Kalam set a target of interacting with 100,000 students during the two years after his resignation from the post of scientific adviser in 1999. He explained, "I feel comfortable in the company of young people, particularly high school students. Henceforth, I intend to share with them experiences, helping them to ignite their imagination and preparing them to work for a developed India for which the road map is already available." His dream is to let every student to light up the sky with victory using their latent fire in the heart.
Kalam's Desire to meet spiritual Leaders to help create a more prosperous, spiritual, and unified India was what initially led him to meet Pramukh Swami, the Hindu guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sampradaya, who Kalam would come to consider his ultimate spiritual Teacher and guru. The first of eight meetings between Kalam and Pramukh Swami over a fourteen-year period took place on 30 June 2001 in New Delhi, during which Kalam described being immediately drawn to Pramukh Swami's simplicity and spiritual purity. Kalam stated that he was inspired by Pramukh Swami throughout their numerous interactions. One such incident occurred the day following the terrorist attack on BAPS' Akshardham, Gandhinagar complex in September 2002; Pramukh Swami prayed for, and sprinkled holy water upon, the sites of all of the deceased, including the terrorists, demonstrating the view that all human life is sacred. Kalam recalled being moved by Pramukh Swami's equanimity and compassion, citing this incident as one of his motivations for writing Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji. Summarising the effect that Pramukh Swami had on him, Kalam stated that "[Pramukh Swami] has indeed transformed me. He is the ultimate stage of the spiritual ascent in my life ... Pramukh Swamiji has put me in a God-synchronous orbit. No manoeuvres are required any more, as I am placed in my final position in eternity." Following Kalam's death a month after his final book was released, co-author Arun Tiwari pointed to this passage as potentially prophetic and premonitory of Kalam's death.
One component of Kalam's widespread popularity among diverse groups in India, and an enduring aspect of his legacy, is the syncretism he embodied in appreciating various elements of the many spiritual and cultural traditions of India. In addition to his faith in the Koran and Islamic practice, Kalam was well-versed in Hindu traditions; he learnt Sanskrit, read the Bhagavad Gita and he was a vegetarian. Kalam also enjoyed writing Tamil poetry, playing the veena (a South Indian string instrument), and listening to Carnatic devotional music every day. In 2002, in one of his early speeches to Parliament after becoming President, he reiterated his Desire for a more united India, stating that "[d]uring the last one year I met a number of spiritual Leaders of all religions ... [and] I would like to endeavour to work for bringing about unity of minds among the divergent traditions of our country". Describing Kalam as a unifier of diverse traditions, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor stated, "Kalam was a complete Indian, an embodiment of the eclecticism of India's heritage of diversity". BJP leader L. K. Advani concurred that Kalam was "the best exemplar of the Idea of India, one who embodied the best of all the cultural and spiritual traditions that signify India's unity in immense diversity. This was most strikingly evident in the second-to-last book he published, presciently titled Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swami.
In September 2003, in an interactive session in PGI Chandigarh, Kalam supported the need of Uniform Civil Code in India, keeping in view the population of the country.
During his term as President, he was affectionately known as the People's President, saying that signing the Office of Profit Bill was the toughest decision he had taken during his tenure. Kalam was criticised for his inaction in deciding the fate of 20 out of the 21 mercy petitions submitted to him during his tenure. Article 72 of the Constitution of India empowers the President of India to grant pardons, and suspend or commute the death sentence of convicts on death row. Kalam acted on only one mercy plea in his five-year tenure as President, rejecting the plea of rapist Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was later hanged. Perhaps the most notable plea was from Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri terrorist who was convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2004. While the sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006, the pending action on his mercy plea resulted in him remaining on death row. He also took the controversial decision to impose President's Rule in Bihar in 2005.
At the end of his term, on 20 June 2007, Kalam expressed his willingness to consider a second term in office provided there was certainty about his victory in the 2007 presidential election. However, two days later, he decided not to contest the Presidential election again stating that he wanted to avoid involving Rashtrapati Bhavan from any political processes. He did not have the support of the left parties, Shiv Sena and UPA constituents, to receive a renewed mandate.
In the 2011 Hindi film I Am Kalam, Kalam is portrayed as a positive influence on a poor but bright Rajasthani boy named Chhotu, who renames himself Kalam in honour of his idol.
In May 2012, Kalam launched a programme for the youth of India called the What Can I Give Movement, with a central theme of defeating corruption.
Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, which Kalam had visited on numerous occasions, expressed "deepest condolences ... as a respected scientist, he played a critical role in the development of the Indian space programme. As a committed educator, he inspired millions of young people to achieve their very best. And as a devoted leader, he gained support both at home and abroad, becoming known as 'the people's President'. I join our Indo–Canadian families, friends, and neighbours in mourning the passing of this respected leader." United States President Barack Obama extended "deepest condolences to the people of India on the passing of former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam", and highlighted his achievements as a scientist and as a statesman, notably his role in strengthening US–India relations and increasing space co-operation between the two nations. "Suitably named 'the People's President', Dr. Kalam's humility and dedication to public Service served as an inspiration to millions of Indians and admirers around the world." Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed sincere condolences and conveyed his sympathy and support "to the near and dear ones of the deceased leader, to the government, and entire people of India". He remarked on Kalam's outstanding "personal contribution to the social, economic, scientific, and technical progress of India and in ensuring its national security," adding that Dr Kalam would be remembered as a "consistent exponent of closer friendly relations between our nations, who has done a lot for cementing mutually beneficial Russian–Indian cooperation." Other international leaders—including former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum—also paid tribute to Kalam. In a special gesture, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon visited the Permanent Mission of India to the UN and signed a condolence book. "The outpouring of grief around the world is a testament of the respect and inspiration he has garnered during and after his presidency. The UN joins the people of India in sending our deepest condolences for this great statesman. May he rest in peace and eternity", Ban wrote in his message.
Kalam describes a "transformative moment" in his life when he asked Pramukh Swami, the guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sampradaya, how India might realise this five-pronged vision of development. Pramukh Swami's answer—to add a sixth area developing faith in God and spirituality to overcome the current climate of crime and corruption—became the spiritual vision for the next 15 years Kalam's life, which he describes in his final book, Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, published just a month before his death.
A prominent road in New Delhi was renamed from Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road in August 2015.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam National Memorial is a memorial in memory of the late President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The memorial is situated at Pei Karumbu, in the island town of Rameswaram, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. This Memorial was inaugurated on the 27th July, 2017 by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. The memorial was built by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
In February 2018, Scientists from the Botanical Survey of India named a newly found plant species as Drypetes kalamii, in his honour.