Published: 27th July 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Why was late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam known as People's President?
From Rameshwaram to being the people's man, here's all you need to know about the People's President and the Missile Man of India
A man who is remembered for what he was, not who he was! Yes, we are referring to everyman Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, simply known as Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. A native of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr Kalam studied Physics and further pursued Aerospace Engineering. With the highest qualifications and many achievements in his kitty, Dr Kalam became the face of simplicity and his down-to-earth attitude touched everyone's hearts.
Dr Kalam, who was born in 1931, went on to dedicate his life to serving the country with his wisdom. In this process, he was worshipped as an inspiration by the youth. In the presence of the youth he loved, he breathed his last. He suffered cardiac unrest while delivering a speech at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong in 2015.
But what can be more special about Dr Kalam who is often addressed with titles like the People's President, Missile Man and several others? What are his contributions to his country? We make you aware of all this and a lot more with #WhatTheFAQ. Read on.
Why was he called the Missile Man of India?
Dr Kalam was known as the 'Missile Man' mainly for his contributions to the development of ballistic missiles, which are used to deliver warheads on a target and launch vehicle technology.
While working with DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), Dr Kalam played a pivotal role in the development and operationalisation of Agni, an intermediate-range ballistic missile and Prithvi missiles, the tactical surface-to-surface missile.
Additionally, Dr Kalam was a part of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) which was set up by the renowned scientist Dr Vikram A Sarabhai in 1962 to formulate the Indian Space Programme.
To highlight other contributions towards missile creation, in the 1970s the Missle Man directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV (Satellite Launch Vehicle) programme.
Also, in 1970, India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was spearheaded by Dr Kalam. He oversaw the creation of SLV III which supported the launch of Rohini satellite.
Besides these, during 1992-99, Dr Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the DRDO. This time, the Pokhran-II tests were conducted and Dr Kalam was Chief Coordinator in the test planning along with Dr R Chidambaram, the Director of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
What is so unique about the Missile Man?
Despite coming from a poverty-hit family, Dr Kalam was never limited to any particular barriers/boundaries of community, religion, caste and so on. As a Muslim he performed namaz, he was also deeply inspired by the saying of Pramukh Swami, the Hindu guru of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha.
In fact, Dr Kalam in his book Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji, mentions his interactions with Pramukh Swami and goes on to explain one incident which instilled a lot of compassion in him.
What were his contributions as the President?
Dr Kalam worked as the 11th President of India from July 25, 2002 to July 25, 2007. During his Presidency, he was named the People's President. Wondering why? Because he was always down to earth, refusing VVIP treatments on several occasions. He believed that "dialogue and cooperation" are key solutions to India's multitudinous issues, he inspired youth to "dream, dream and dream" and believed in a democracy which is functional. Few reports state that every day, Dr Kalam personally replied to all the emails he received from the youth of India. He set a record-breaking target of meeting 5,00,000 students during his Presidency.
Besides these highlights, the main aspect for which he was named the People's President is the tough decision he took to sign the Office of Profit Bill in 2006. This bill can disqualify a person from being a Member of Parliament. Another difficult decision taken by the 11th President was rejecting the plea of rapist Dhananjoy Chatterjee who was the first person to be judicially executed in the 21st century for murder. Similarly, in another plea, Kashmiri terrorist Afzal Guru was convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament.
Post-presidency, Dr Kalam resumed his career in writing, teaching and inspiring youth. He worked as a visiting professor in IIMs, IIScs and IITs across India.
What are a few famous quotes by Dr Kalam?
- Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action
- Dream is not that which you see while sleeping it is something that does not let you sleep
- If you fail, never give up because FAIL means First Attempt In Learning
- Two rules for a peaceful life: Depression in failure should never go to heart, and ego in success should never go to the brain
- Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in the second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck
Although Dr Kalam will always be remembered for his academic excellence and great contribution to the country as a scientist, his affection towards the youth is the cherry on the cake which none can refrain from speaking about.