Success Story of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Biography, History, Books, Achievements, Thoughts and more

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam


Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is a man who is ever alive in the heart of each indian. His journey is commendable and we can learn a lot from him. In today’s blog, we will discuss his life journey and how and when he started his journey.

So buckle up your belts as we are now going to witness the great life story of none other than the pride of our nation, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

Table of Contents

1 Birth and life in Rameswaram
2 Family background
3 Educational Background
4 Kalam’s Career as a Scientist
5 Dr. Kalam: The President of India
6 Life after leaving Presidentship
7 Death: The Dark Day for the Nation
8 Awards and honors
9 Dr. Kalam’s Writings
11 Conclusion


Birth and life in Rameswaram

Kalam’s childhood was spent in Rameswaram which was a small island town in Tamil Nadu that was filled with simplicity and different backgrounds that shaped A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s personality.

Rameswaram was not only a beautiful location but also a spiritually significant location and it is usually referred to as the “Varanasi of the South.” It had beautiful beaches and environment, which helped Kalam to appreciate the natural world.

Kalam’s family lived in a simple house, and the neighborhood was like one large family with people from different backgrounds living peacefully. This variety taught him to respect individuals of many faiths and origins, which he kept with him throughout his life.

Family background

His parents, Jainulabudeen and Ashiamma had an important role in shaping his personality. His father was a devoted imam at the local mosque, as well as the owner of a boat that transported people to the famous Ramanathaswamy Temple. His mother was a caring housewife who had taught him qualities such as honesty, humility, and empathy.

The Kalams were famed for their simplicity and discipline. These principles were passed on to young Kalam by his parents, and they formed the foundation of his strong work ethic and moral code.  Also, their constant support for his education and goals fueled his determination to succeed.

Educational Background

Kalam’s official schooling started at Ramanathapuram’s Schwartz Higher Secondary School. He was a hardworking and curious student who was always ready to learn. Even as a child, he showed a remarkable interest in science and technology, which was encouraged by his teachers and the school’s small library.

Kalam went on to study aeronautical engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) after finishing his secondary education. His choice of field also reflected his childhood love of flight and the amazing beauty of the sky. During his tenure at MIT, he started to imagine a future in which he could help to develop India’s aerospace and defense abilities.

Kalam’s educational career continued with his admission to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, where he earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. His hunger for information and commitment to his studies helped him gain the respect of his professors and classmates.

Kalam’s academic achievements led him to the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), where he made important contributions to India’s missile and space programs.

Kalam’s Career as a Scientist

Dr. Kalam started his work as a scientist at India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) after graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960. His first work was to create a small hovercraft but he wasn’t completely happy with the results.

He had the great opportunity to tour NASA’s Langley Research Center and other American space facilities in the early 1960s which was an important moment for him. afterward, he joined INCOSPAR where he collaborated with renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai. He ultimately secured a job at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) because of H. G. S. Murthy who was the first Director of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).

Kalam’s career took a new direction in 1969 when he became the project director for India’s first satellite launch vehicle (SLV-III). It was important because this rocket successfully launched the Rohini satellite into orbit in 1980. Also, he started independently working on a similar rocket concept at DRDO in 1965. The government provided permission in 1969 to expand the program and bring on more engineers to help him succeed.

During the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam played a crucial role in the success of two major projects, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III.

Even though he had not been actively involved with its creation, Kalam was allowed to watch India’s first nuclear test which was Smiling Buddha. He supervised two projects in the 1970s named Project Devil and Project Valiant that aimed at developing great missiles using technology from the successful SLV program.

Dr. Kalam was the Prime Minister’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Secretary of the Defense Research and Development Organization from 1992 to 1999. During this time, India performed the Pokhran-II nuclear tests and Kalam was involved in both the political and technological sides of these experiments.

Dr. Kalam also collaborated with the cardiologist Soma Raju in 1998 to develop the “Kalam-Raju Stent,” which was a low-cost coronary stent. In 2012, they created the “Kalam-Raju Tablet,” which was a tough tablet computer for use in healthcare facilities in villages.

Dr. Kalam: The President of India

From July 25, 2002, to July 25, 2007, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was India’s 11th President. He easily won the 2002 presidential election by getting 922,884 electoral votes against his opponent Lakshmi Sahgal with 107,366 votes. His candidacy was supported by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Samajwadi Party, and the Nationalist Congress Party, which helped him to win.

During his presidency, Kalam was known as the “People’s President” and was the third Indian President to earn the Bharat Ratna which is the highest civilian honor to receive just before starting office. He was also the first scientist and bachelor to live in the presidential mansion that is Rashtrapati Bhavan.

While in office, Kalam received criticism for taking only one mercy petition action during his time as president. In 2005, he also made a controversial choice to implement President’s Rule in Bihar. He was always the people’s man and throughout his working tenure, he did the same to add value to the life of people. His main aim was to educate people and make them understand the value of humanity.

Life after leaving presidentship

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam took on multiple duties in education after his presidency ended. He taught at various notable colleges, including the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Ahmedabad, and Indore. He additionally served as chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram and was an honorary fellow at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He even taught aerospace engineering at Anna University and also collaborated with other academic and scientific institutions in India.

Dr. Kalam’s support for the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant was even criticized in 2011 as some believed that he didn’t do enough to engage with the local community, and they were concerned about the plant’s safety. They considered him a pro-nuclear scientist people did some protests during his visits.

Dr. Kalam also launched the “What Can I Give Movement” in May 2012 which had the main goal of motivating young people in India. The primary goal of this movement was to fight against corruption and promote positive change in the country.

Death: The dark day for the nation

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was in Shillong on July 27, 2015, to give a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management. He wasn’t feeling good that time as he walked up the steps but he still went inside the auditorium after a short rest. Unfortunately, he fainted within only five minutes of his speech. He was taken to nearby Bethany Hospital in severe condition, but physicians were unable to save him, and he died at 7:45 p.m. due to a heart attack. His final words to his assistant were, “Funny man! “How are you doing?”

Upon his death, his body was taken from Shillong to Delhi by an Indian Air Force helicopter. Many important people such as the President and Prime Minister came to give their respects when it landed in Delhi. His body then went to his Delhi house, where the public and officials gathered to say goodbye.

On July 29, his body arrived in Madurai which is his hometown, on an Air Force plane, he was covered in the Indian flag. It was received by senior leaders and then transported to Rameswaram which was his last resting site. People came from all around to pay their respects, and he was laid to rest in Rameswaram with full state ceremonies on July 30. The ceremony was attended by almost 350,000 individuals including the Prime Minister and other key leaders.

Awards and honors

Dr. kalam has received various awards throughout his life time and here is a list of a few of the noticeable awards he has received.

The year Award Awarding orginisation
2014 Honorary Professor Beijing University, China
2013 Von Braun Award National Space Society
2010 Doctor of Engineering University of Waterloo
2008 Doctor of Science Universiti Sains Malaysia
2007 Honorary Doctorate of Science and Technology  Carnegie Mellon University
2007 King Charles II Medal Royal Society, UK
2007 Honorary Doctorate of Science  University of Wolverhampton, UK
2000 Ramanujan Award Alwars Research Centre, Chennai
1998 Veer Savarkar Award  Government of India
1997 Bharat Ratna President of India
1990 Padma Vibhushan Government of India
1981 Padma Bhushan Government of India

Dr. Kalam’s Writings

  • Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology
  • You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond
  • Turning Points: A journey through challenges
  • A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020
  • Forge your Future: Candid, Forthright, Inspiring and many more.


Q: What were Dr. Kalam’s biggest contributions?

A: Dr. Kalam contributed greatly to India’s space and missile programs. He played an important role in the launch of India’s first satellite and the development of ballistic missiles.

Q: What is Dr. Kalam’s most famous quotation?

A: “Dream, dream, dream,” is one of his most famous statements. Dreams become thoughts, and thoughts become actions.”

Q: What was his presidency known for?

A: The primary goal of Dr. Kalam’s governance was education, science, and youth development. He was an inspiration and guide to young Indians.

Q: When did Dr. Kalam die?

A: Dr. Kalam died on July 27, 2015, while giving a speech in Shillong.


Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s journey is totally unforgettable and what contributions he haddone in the field of science and technology. He not only guided all of us on how to lead a life but also taught us some great life lessons. He was, he is and he will always be alive in the heart of every Indian.


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