It is exactly a year since the day the ‘people’s president’ of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam breathed his last while delivering a lecture at Indian Institute of Management Shillong. Popularly known as the ‘missile man of India’, Dr Kalam had lived a life of hard work, sincerity and simplicity that inspired millions.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was best known for his involvement in missile development efforts of India. His contributions to science and nuclear technology has received worldwide acclaim. Other than science, literature, language and philosophy were other domains upon which he has left behind a significant mark. He was also a connoisseur of music. However, his biggest contribution to the country will be as the person who taught generations to dream and dream big.
From receiving doctorates from universities around the world to being nominated as the MTV youth icon, here are ten facts about the 11th president of India that you would want to know.
1. President Kalam earned his first wages at the age of 8 when he started selling newspapers in his neighbourhood.
2. He was an avid reader of books on cosmology and celestial bodies.
3. He dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot, but could not realise it since he secured the ninth position in the Indian Air Force selection, when only eight slots were available.
4. President Kalam started his professional career at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) where he designed a small helicopter for the Indian army.
5. Dr. Kalam received doctorates from 48 universities which included the University of Edinburgh and the Carnegie Mellon University.
6. When he resigned from the office of Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India in 2001, Dr Kalam announced setting himself a goal of interacting with 100,000 students throughout the country in an attempt to help them realise their dreams.
7. When in his 70s, Dr Kalam was nominated twice for the MTV youth icon, once in the year 2003 and then again in 2006.
8. He was a passionate writer and authored close to 18 books, 22 poems and 4 songs during his lifetime.
9. Dr. Kalam received the Bharat Ratna in 1997. Along with Dr. Zakir Husain and Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, he is the third president of India to have received the award before claiming the presidential post.
10. After Dr Kalam died in 2015, he had no other property in his name other than his collection of books.