|Birth Day:||October 15, 1931|
|Death Date:||Jul 27, 2015 (age 83)|
|Birth Place:||Rameswaram, India|
As per our current Database, Abdul Kalam died on Jul 27, 2015 (age 83).
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He attended Madras Institute of Technology, worked as an aerospace engineer.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram on Pamban Island, then in the Madras Presidency and now in the State of Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and imam of a local mosque; his mother Ashiamma was a housewife. His father owned a ferry that took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now uninhabited Dhanushkodi. Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and one sister in his family. His ancestors had been wealthy traders and landowners, with numerous properties and large tracts of land. Their business had involved trading groceries between the mainland and the island and to and from Sri Lanka, as well as ferrying pilgrims between the mainland and Pamban. As a result, the family acquired the title of "Mara Kalam Iyakkivar" (wooden boat steerers), which over the years became shortened to "Marakier." With the opening of the Pamban Bridge to the mainland in 1914, however, the businesses failed and the family fortune and properties were lost over time, apart from the ancestral home. By his early childhood, Kalam's family had become poor; at an early age, he sold newspapers to supplement his family's income.
In his school years, Kalam had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn. He spent hours on his studies, especially mathematics. After completing his education at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, "I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline". He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (by Press Information Bureau, Government of India) as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS). He started his career by designing a small hovercraft, but remained unconvinced by his choice of a job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980; Kalam had first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Kalam received the government's approval and expanded the programme to include more engineers.
In 1963 to 1964, he visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Wallops Flight Facility. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be successful.
Kalam received 7 honorary doctorates from 40 universities. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. In 1997, Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence technology in India. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Von Braun Award from the National Space Society "to recognize excellence in the management and leadership of a space-related project".
In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent". In 2012, the duo designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".
Kalam set a target of interacting with 100,000 students during the two years after his resignation from the post of scientific adviser in 1999. He explained, "I feel comfortable in the company of young people, particularly high school students. Henceforth, I intend to share with them experiences, helping them to ignite their imagination and preparing them to work for a developed India for which the road map is already available." His dream is to let every student to light up the sky with victory using their latent fire in the heart.
Kalam's desire to meet spiritual leaders to help create a more prosperous, spiritual, and unified India was what initially led him to meet Pramukh Swami, the Hindu guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sampradaya, who Kalam would come to consider his ultimate spiritual teacher and guru. The first of eight meetings between Kalam and Pramukh Swami over a fourteen-year period took place on 30 June 2001 in New Delhi, during which Kalam described being immediately drawn to Pramukh Swami's simplicity and spiritual purity. Kalam stated that he was inspired by Pramukh Swami throughout their numerous interactions. One such incident occurred the day following the terrorist attack on BAPS' Akshardham, Gandhinagar complex in September 2002; Pramukh Swami prayed for, and sprinkled holy water upon, the sites of all of the deceased, including the terrorists, demonstrating the view that all human life is sacred. Kalam recalled being moved by Pramukh Swami's equanimity and compassion, citing this incident as one of his motivations for writing Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji. Summarising the effect that Pramukh Swami had on him, Kalam stated that "[Pramukh Swami] has indeed transformed me. He is the ultimate stage of the spiritual ascent in my life ... Pramukh Swamiji has put me in a God-synchronous orbit. No manoeuvres are required any more, as I am placed in my final position in eternity." Following Kalam's death a month after his final book was released, co-author Arun Tiwari pointed to this passage as potentially prophetic and premonitory of Kalam's death.
On 10 June 2002, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was in power at the time, expressed that they would nominate Kalam for the post of President, and both the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party backed his candidacy. After the Samajwadi Party announced its support for Kalam, Narayanan chose not to seek a second term in office, leaving the field clear. Kalam said of the announcement of his candidature:
The polling for the presidential election began on 15 July 2002 in Parliament and the state assemblies, with the media claiming that the election was a one-sided affair and Kalam's victory was a foregone conclusion; the count was held on 18 July. Kalam became the 11th president of the Republic of India in an easy victory, and moved into the Rashtrapati Bhavan after he was sworn in on 25 July. Kalam was the third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, before becoming the President. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr Zakir Hussain (1963) were the earlier recipients of Bharat Ratna who later became the President of India. He was also the first scientist and the first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhawan.
One component of Kalam's widespread popularity among diverse groups in India, and an enduring aspect of his legacy, is the syncretism he embodied in appreciating various elements of the many spiritual and cultural traditions of India. In addition to his faith in the Quran and Islamic practice, Kalam was well-versed in Hindu traditions; he learnt Sanskrit, read the Bhagavad Gita and he was a vegetarian. Kalam also enjoyed writing Tamil poetry, playing the veena (an ancient Indian string instrument), and listening to Carnatic devotional music every day. In 2002, in one of his early speeches to Parliament after becoming president, he reiterated his desire for a more united India, stating that "during the last one year I met a number of spiritual leaders of all religions ... and I would like to endeavour to work for bringing about unity of minds among the divergent traditions of our country". Describing Kalam as a unifier of diverse traditions, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor stated, "Kalam was a complete Indian, an embodiment of the eclecticism of India's heritage of diversity". BJP leader L. K. Advani concurred that Kalam was "the best exemplar of the Idea of India, one who embodied the best of all the cultural and spiritual traditions that signify India's unity in immense diversity. This was most strikingly evident in the second-to-last book he published, presciently titled Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swami".
In September 2003, in an interactive session in PGI Chandigarh, Kalam supported the need of Uniform Civil Code in India, keeping in view the population of the country.
During his term as president, he was affectionately known as the People's President, saying that signing the Office of Profit Bill was the toughest decision he had taken during his tenure. Kalam was criticised for his inaction in deciding the fate of 20 out of the 21 mercy petitions submitted to him during his tenure. Article 72 of the Constitution of India empowers the President of India to grant pardons, and suspend or commute the death sentence of convicts on death row. Kalam acted on only one mercy plea in his five-year tenure as president, rejecting the plea of rapist Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was later hanged. Perhaps the most notable plea was from Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri terrorist who was convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2004. While the sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006, the pending action on his mercy plea resulted in him remaining on death row. He also took the controversial decision to impose President's Rule in Bihar in 2005.
At the end of his term, on 20 June 2007, Kalam expressed his willingness to consider a second term in office provided there was certainty about his victory in the 2007 presidential election. However, two days later, he decided not to contest the Presidential election again stating that he wanted to avoid involving Rashtrapati Bhavan from any political processes. He did not have the support of the left parties, Shiv Sena and UPA constituents, to receive a renewed mandate.
In 2011, Kalam was criticised by civil groups over his stand on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant; he supported the establishment of the nuclear power plant and was accused of not speaking with the local people. The protesters were hostile to his visit as they saw him as a pro-nuclear scientist and were unimpressed by the assurances he provided regarding the safety features of the plant.
In the 2011 Hindi film I Am Kalam, Kalam is portrayed as a positive influence on a poor but bright Rajasthani boy named Chhotu, who renames himself Kalam in honour of his idol.
Nearing the expiry of the term of the 12th President Pratibha Patil on 24 July 2012, media reports in April claimed that Kalam was likely to be nominated for his second term. After the reports, social networking sites witnessed a number of people supporting his candidature. The BJP potentially backed his nomination, saying that the party would lend their support if the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and Indian National Congress proposed him for the 2012 presidential election. A month ahead of the election, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee also expressed their support for Kalam. Days afterwards, Mulayam Singh Yadav backed out, leaving Mamata Banerjee as the solitary supporter. On 18 June 2012, Kalam declined to contest the 2012 presidential poll. He said of his decision not to do so:
In May 2012, Kalam launched a programme for the youth of India called the What Can I Give Movement, with a central theme of defeating corruption.
In 2012, Kalam was ranked number 2 in Outlook India's poll of the Greatest Indian.
On 27 July 2015, Kalam travelled to Shillong to deliver a lecture on "Creating a Livable Planet Earth" at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. While climbing a flight of stairs, he experienced some discomfort, but was able to enter the auditorium after a brief rest. At around 6:35 p.m. IST, only five minutes into his lecture, he collapsed. He was rushed to the nearby Bethany Hospital in a critical condition; upon arrival, he lacked a pulse or any other signs of life. Despite being placed in the intensive care unit, Kalam was confirmed dead of a sudden cardiac arrest at 7:45 p.m. IST. His last words, to his aide Srijan Pal Singh, were reportedly: "Funny guy! Are you doing well?"
On 30 July 2015, the former president was laid to rest at Rameswaram's Pei Karumbu Ground with full state honours. Over 350,000 people attended the last rites, including the Prime Minister, the governor of Tamil Nadu and the chief ministers of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Following his death, Kalam received numerous tributes. The Tamil Nadu state government announced that his birthday, 15 October, would be observed across the state as "Youth Renaissance Day;" the state government further instituted the "Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Award", constituting an 8-gram gold medal, a certificate and ₹500,000 (US$7,000). The award will be awarded annually on Independence Day, beginning in 2015, to residents of the state with achievements in promoting scientific growth, the humanities or the welfare of students.
On the anniversary of Kalam's birth in 2015 the CBSE set topics on his name in the CBSE expression series.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ceremonially released postage stamps commemorating Kalam at DRDO Bhawan in New Delhi on 15 October 2015, the 84th anniversary of Kalam's birth.
Wheeler Island, a national missile test site in Odisha, was renamed Abdul Kalam Island in September 2015.
A prominent road in New Delhi was renamed from Aurangzeb Road to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road in August 2015.
The Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam National Memorial was built in memory of Kalam by the DRDO in Pei Karumbu, in the island town of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2017. On display are the replicas of rockets and missiles which Kalam had worked with. Acrylic paintings about his life are also displayed along with hundreds of portraits depicting the life of the mass leader. There is a statue of Kalam in the entrance showing him playing the Veena. There are two other smaller statues of the leader in sitting and standing posture.
In February 2018, scientists from the Botanical Survey of India named a newly found plant species as Drypetes kalamii, in his honour.
Currently, Abdul Kalam is 91 years, 3 months and 19 days old. Abdul Kalam will celebrate 92nd birthday on a Sunday 15th of October 2023.
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