He was born to Tamil Muslim fisherman’s family during the period of the India’s freedom struggle on 15 October 1931. Coming from a very poor background he didn’t have the opportunity to buy books to study and was helped by his friends and teachers. The average looking boy, who sat with a gloomy face at the back benches of the classroom went on to become the trendsetting Aerospace scientist later to be dubbed as India’s ‘Missile Man’.
Although an average student he was described as a bright and hardworking student with a strong desire of learning, especially Mathematics. He distributed newspapers to supplement his father’s income. After completing his school education Kalam went on to St. Joseph’s college at Tiruchirapalli which was affiliated to the University of Madras from where he graduated in Physics in 1954 and later moved to aerospace engineering.
The dream of becoming a fighter Pilot remained unfulfilled and Kalam joined the Aeronautical deparment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and worked under nenowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. In 1969 Kalam joined Indian Space Research Organization where he was the Project Director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which was used to deploy the Rohini satellite in July 1980.
He served as the Chief Scientific Advisor to Prime Minister and the Secretary of the DRDO where he masterminded the Pokhran II nuclear test during his tenure as the DRDO Chief and was termed as the country’s best known Nuclear Scientist and was honoured with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest Civilan Award.
In May 2012, Kalam launched his mission for the youth of the nation called the What Can I Give Movement with a central theme to defeat corruption. His autobiography, 'Wings of Fire' was much acclaimed among the Indian Youths which depicted his life and his early days of struggle.
Also known as an Educationist, Kalam inspired the young minds of the country through his inspirational speeches. He was sworn in as the 11th President of India on 25 July 2002. He was the 1st scientist and the first Bachelor to occupy the position.
A true Patriot and a profound thinker, Kalam’s name would be written in golden letters in the history of the nation as a perfect Statesman who believed that ‘To succeed in a mission, one must have single-minded devotion to his goal.’