|Biographical detail : ||Scientist.
Father of India’s missile programme and brain behind the 1998 Pokharan nuclear tests.
In his early career he went to NASA (the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for a short training. At NASA’s flight Facility’s reception lobby, Kalam’s eyes caught a painting prominently displayed; of the ‘Tipu Sultan’s army fighting the British’. Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), a ruler of Mysore, South India, was the pioneer of warfare rocketry. The painting inspired Kalam to develop Indian rocket, ‘a revival of the eighteenth century dream of Tipu Sultan.’ Space is the limit insofar as Kalam’s own vision is concerned.
An aeronautical engineer, Kalam masterminded India’s self-reliance in satellite and missile technology. He has helped to carry India into the missile and space age. The successful nuclear tests of 1998 made him a national icon. Kalam was awarded India’s Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
Kalam was born in Rameswaram, in Madras, son of a boatman. His humble background is a testament to how education can raise people from poverty. He was the first in his family to graduate and went to join the Indian Space Research Programme and run the Defence Research and Development Organisation. He refuses to be distracted by fame and glory, but remain totally modest. Prayer “acts as a stimulus to creative ideas,” so he writes in Wings of Fire, an autobiographical work. His simplicity and his almost ascetic lifestyle have helped bolster the myth of the selfless, patriotic scientist who has devoted his entire life to a mission – making India into a major military power.
In July 2002 Kalam was elected 12th President of the Indian Republic, and India’s third Muslim head of state.