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APJ Abdul Kalam

Biography | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

APJ Abdul Kalam is also known as the Missile man of India. APJ Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India and a great scientist.

Early Childhood

Abdul Pakir Jainulabudeen Abdul Kalam, born on 15th October 1931 and later known as APJ Abdul Kalam was the son of a boat owner who ferried Hindu pilgrims from the Rameshwaram Temple in Tamil Nadu. His father was also an imam at the local mosque and his mother was a housewife. Little did they know that their son would one day become the first man of India.

Kalam worked as a paper boy to support his father. He had four brothers and one sister. He was not the brightest student in his school but was very hard working. He went on to study Physics and graduated from Madras University. He wanted to become a fighter pilot. He studied aerospace engineering and also completed a PHD in physics to become a scientist.

Career and Work

After completing his PHD Kalam took the post of chief scientist at the Aeronautical Development of Defence research and Development but he was not satisfied with his job.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

He shifted to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a project director. There he led many projects and was extremely successful at each of them. In 1970, Kalam directed two projects- Project Devil and Project Valiant which were to develop missiles from the successful technology of SLV programmes. Rohini 1 was launched in space using the SLV rocket.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

Missiles under the mission Agni and Prithvi were launched under Kalam’s leadership and all were successful. He was also appointed as the Chief Executive of the Integrated Guided Missile development programme.

Pokhran II Nuclear Tests

From the year 1992 to 1999 Kalam was appointed as the Chief Scientist advisor to the Prime Minister of India and the Secretary of Defence and Research. During this time Kalam also served as the Chief Project coordinator for the Pokhran II nuclear tests. After this he was known as the Missile man of India.

In the year 2002 Kalam succeeded K. R. Narayan as the 11th President of India and served till 2007.

Achievements and Awards

  1. Kalam was the proud recipient of Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna awards from the Indian Government.
  2. He was also awarded the Indira Gandhi National Award for National Integration.
  3. Not only by the Indian Government, Kalam was awarded medals from the government of USA.
  4. Kalam had received doctorates from 40 Universities. In addition to his work, he had also authored a number of books. Amongst them ‘India 2020’ was the most appreciated and widely read book. ‘Ignited minds’, ‘Mission India’, ‘Inspiring thoughts’ are some of his other books. He also used to give lectures at many reputed colleges across the globe.


Kalam breathed his last while giving a lecture at IIM Shillong. The entire world was saddened by the death of a simple, humble and great man.

You may also like Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad Speech.