Bharat Ratna Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, generally known as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was the 11th President of India (2002-07). He was elected against Lakshmi Sehgal in 2002 and had support from both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress, the two leading parties of Indian politics. By profession he is a scientist and administrator in India. He worked with Indian Space Research Organisation and Defense Research and Development Organisation as an aerospace engineer before becoming the President of India. His work on the development of launch vehicle and ballistic missile technology has earned him the name of the Missile Man of India. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests conducted in India in 1998 after the age-long original nuclear test of 1974 saw him in a pivotal political, organizational and technical role.
At present Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is the visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore; the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad; and the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. He is a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the JSS University in Mysore and at the Anna University in Chennai, apart from being an adjunct and visiting faculty at other research and academic institutions in India. He is the honorary fellow of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram.
In his book India 2020, he has recommended plans to make the nation a fully developed one by the year 2020. His interaction with the student community and his motivational speeches have made him quite popular among the youth. In 2011 he launched a mission called 'What Can I Give Movement' aimed at the youth of India, which focused on defeating corruption in the country.
Detailed personal background
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born to a poor Tamil Muslim family on 15 October 1931 at Rameswaram in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. His father, Jainulabdeen, was a boat owner, and his mother, Ashiamma, was a homemaker. He started working at a young age to support his father. He received average grades in school but was seen as a hardworking and bright student with a strong desire to learn things. He used to study for hours, especially mathematics. He completed his schooling from Rameshwaram Elementary School. In 1954 he graduated in Physics from St. Joseph's College in Tiruchirappalli, which was then affiliated to the University of Madras. Thereafter in 1955 he moved to Madras and joined the Madras Institute of Technology and studied aerospace engineering. His dream was to become a fighter pilot but he was ranked ninth while the IAF offered only eight slots. He is a bachelor.