Today marks the second death anniversary of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, who was known as the ‘Missile Man of India’ for his relentless efforts in improving the Indian military missile arena, by focusing on developing the ballistic missile as well as the launch vehicle technology. Dr Kalam, who was an aerospace engineer before he became President of India (2002-2007), had made significant contributions to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisaiton (ISRO). A scientist who had dedicated forty years to the field, Dr. Kalam was a key player in the 1998 nuclear tests – Pokhran II. This was an important event in the country’s history, held 24 years after the first nuclear test, which was conducted in May 1974 and was code-named Smiling Buddha. In 2002, Dr. Kalam was elected as the President, receiving favourable support not only from the reigning Bhartiya Janata Party, but also from the opposition.
A recipient of innumerable prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Dr. Kalam had also authored his autobiography titled, Wings of Fire. Post his presidency, he lived a quiet civilian life, focusing on writing and public service. Two years ago, on July 27, 2015, Dr Kalam experienced a fatal cardiac arrest while giving a lecture at IIM, Shillong, where he was a visiting professor. He had collapsed and was immediately rushed to Bethany Hospital where he was declared dead. Dr. Kalam was 83 years old.
Today, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Dr Kalam”s memorial at Pei Karumbu in his birthplace, Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, messages pour in on Twitter paying homage to Dr Kalam’s monumental contributions made to the country: