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From humble origins to ‘People’s President’: Tracking the life of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

APJ Abdul Kalam, one of India's most loved presidents, passed away in Shillong on Monday evening

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 29, 2015 5:22:05 pm
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Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, considered a People’s President, recipient of the Bharat Ratna and one of the best scientists India has ever produced, passed away on Monday in Shillong, hours after he collapsed in the middle of a lecture at IIM Shillong. Within moments of the news of his death becoming public, a massive outpouring of grief took over social media outlets. Thousands of his well-wishers remembered him as a fine human being and a visionary.


As India remembers its beloved son, we take a quick look at the extraordinary life of Dr Kalam.

1. Born on October 15, 1931 in the sleepy temple town of Rameswaram in pre-Independent India. He was born into a poor household and after completing school, often used to distribute newspapers to supplement his family income.

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2. He graduated in physics from St Joseph’s College in Tiruchirapilly in Tamil Nadu in 1954. He was known to spend hours and hours on his studies, with special interest in physics and mathematics.

3. Kalam then moved to Madras (now Chennai) to study aerospace engineering at the renowned Madras Institute of Technology. By the year 1960, he had graduated from the college with a firmer objective to specialize in aerospace engineering and become a part of the country’s space mission.

4. Kalam then joined the DRDO as a scientist where he first started working under Dr Vikram Sarabhai, considered the father of India’s space programme. Not satisfied with his job profile, in 1969 he moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation to become the project director of a Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). During the 70s and 80s, he worked extensively within the ISRO to develop many missiles including the Agni and Prithvi.

5. Between 1992 and 1999, Kalam worked as a chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office. He was also the secretary of the DRDO.

6. In 1997, Dr Kalam was bestowed with the country’s highest civilian honour — the Bharat Ratna for his contributions to science.

7. In May 1998, a series of five nuclear explosions were conducted by India at the Pokhran test range. Kalam was the chief project coordinator.

8. In July 2002, Kalam succeeded KR Narayanan to become the 11th President of India.

9. Imposing President’s Rule in Bihar in 2005 was considered one of Kalam’s most controversial and toughest decisions.

10. After his presidency ended in 2007, Kalam became a visiting professor at several Indian Institute of Management including IIM Shillong and IIM Ahmedabad.

11. APJ Abdul Kalam, considered the People’s President and the ‘Missile Man’ passed away on July 27, 2015 in Shillong. He had collapsed in the middle of a lecture at IIM Shillong.

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