Dreams float on an impatient wind, A wind that wants to create a new order. An order of strength and thundering of fire. — from a poem written by Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Some leaders are born, some are made but all don’t have a trait that a great man like Dr. Kalam has. A great visionary, a thinker, philanthropist and overall a good human being.
The man, ascetic in looks and behaviour, belongs to a rare breed of those who dream lofty dreams, and work hard to transform vision into reality.The man who played a key role in the nuclear tests at Pokharan in the Rajasthan desert on May 11 and 13, has a favourite quotation: We must think and act like a nation of a billion people and not like that of a million people. Dream, dream, dream ! Conduct these dreams into thoughts, and then transform them into action.
Above all he is quintessentially Indian. Never allowing his astounding success as a scientist to diminish his humanity and humility. Despite having had an unparalleled career as a defense scientist and been crowned with the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna, he retains the common touch.
As the scientific and technology advisor to the prime minister, he propelled India into the select club of missile powers. He resigned from the post to take up a more ambitious programme of teaching and creating scientific temper in the minds of young inquisitive and knowledge thirsty Indians.
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is the undisputed father of India’s missile program. He has breathed life into ballistic missiles like the Agni and Prithvi, which put China and Pakistan well under India’s missile range. It is too exhausting to track Dr Abdul Kalam’s achievements to date. In the ’60s and ’70s he was a trail blazer in the space department. In the ’80s he transformed the moribund Defence Research and Development Laboratory in Hyderabad into a highly motivated team. By the ’90s Kalam emerged as the czar of Indian science and technology and was awarded the Bharat Ratna. His life and mission is a vindication of what a determined person can achieve against extraordinary odds.
Do things yourself. Do not indulge in short-cuts by importing equipment, thundered the great scientist after the famed Pokhran-2 nuclear blasts in 1998. A strong advocate of this philosophy, he distributed newspapers at a young age to help with household expenses.
A vegetarian and a teetotaller, Abdul Kalam recites the Quran and the Bhagvad Gita with equal ease. A confirmed bachelor, his modesty is evident from the fact that he gives all the credit to his colleagues.
Abdul Kalam is a dreamer. He dreamt of a strong India. His next goal is to produce a reusable missile which no country in the world has been able to produce. And judging by his earlier achievements, this invention does not seem a distant possibility for this genius.
As a child, he was fascinated by the flight of seagulls and the interest in flight led to a degree in aeronautical engineering, and eventually to his supervising the development of India’s guided missiles. Along the way, he found time to write Tamil poetry and learned to play the veena.
Kalam believes that he has inherited honesty and self-discipline from his father, while faith in goodness and kindness is the trait inherited from his mother.
His is a classic story of the magic of democracy where a person from a humble background can expect to rise to the most prestigious position in the country through sheer dint of merit.
Kalam has the unique distinction of having received honorary doctorates from at least thirty universities. As a sign of his popularity among Indian youth, MTV-India recently nominated him as one of the prospects for its MTV India Youth Icon for the year 2006 Award.
As Dr. Kalam said:
You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life
Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career
We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.
God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers.
God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers
Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success
If we are not free, no one will respect us
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam: From humble beginnings to Presidency.
The Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 at Dhanushkodi in the Rameswaram district of Tamil Nadu.
He was neither educated abroad, nor was his family financially very strong to support his academic pursuits. His father, Jainulabiddin Marakayar had to rent boats out to fishermen to pay for his school fees. His mother Ashiamma, had gained much formal education. His father possessed great innate wisdom, true generosity of spirit and was a spiritual person.
He received secondary education at the Schwartz School, a missionary institute in Ramanathapuram, and later joined the St Joseph’s College at Tiruchirrapalli, where he graduated with a Bachelor in Science. Abdul Kalam went on to study Aeronautical Engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology.
He was the first graduate in the family, with his brothers not even finishing school. He distributed newspapers at a young age to help with household expenses.
Abdul Kalam was perhaps marked out to be different right from the beginning. Since he was the youngest in the family, he got his fair share of pampering from the elders.
But neighbours remember him as a reserved boy who was very interested in reading books. In a way, library was the foundation on which Kalam built his career.
After completing his third year at MIT, Kalam joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore as a trainee. Here, he worked on piston and turbine engines examining as part of a team. He also received training on radial engine-cum-drum operations.
In 1958, when he came out of HAL as a graduate of aeronautical engineering, he had his long-standing dream of flying, as two alternative opportunities for employment. One was the job at Directorate of Technical Development and Production (DTD & P) of the Ministry of Defence and another was a career in the Indian Air Force. He applied at both the places, and the interview calls came simultaneously from both.
He went to Delhi for an interview with DTD & P, which did not challenge his knowledge of the subject. Then he went to Dehra Dun for interview with the Air Force Selection Board. Here too, the interview was more on personality test, rather than testing his knowledge. He stood ninth in the batch of 25, and eight officers were selected to be commissioned in the Air Force. Kalam could feel the opportunity to join the Air Force slipping from his hands.
Dissapointed at his rejection by the IAF, Kalam visited Rishikesh where he bathed in the Ganga and met Swami Sivananda a man who looked like Buddha. He introduced himself to the Swamiji, who did not react to his Muslim identity. He asked Kalam about the reason for his sorrow. Kalam told him about his unsuccessful attempt to join the Indian Air Force and his long-cherished desire to fly. Sivananda guided him saying: Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life. You are not destined to become an Air Force pilot. What you are destined to become is not revealed now but it is predetermined. Forget this failure, as it was essential to lead you to your destined path. Search, instead, for the true purpose of your existence. Become one with yourself, my son! Surrender yourself to the wish of God.
After returning to Delhi, Kalam received an appointment letter from DTD & P. On the next day he joined as Senior Scientific Assistant, with a basic salary of Rs. 250/- per month. Here, he was posted at the Technical Center (Civil Aviation). He lost his resentment of failure, thinking he would be able to make aeroplanes airworthy if not fly aeroplanes. During his first year in the Directorate, he carried out a design assignment on supersonic target aircraft with the help of his officer-in-charge, R. Varadharajan, and won praise from the Director, Dr. Neelakantan. Then he was sent to the Aircraft and Armament Testing Unit(A & ATU) at Kanpur to get shop-floor exposure to aircraft maintenance.
Upon his return to Delhi, he was informed that the design of a DART target had been taken up at the DTD & P and he was included in the design team. After that, he undertook a preliminary design study on Human Centrifuge. He designed and developed a vertical takeoff and landing platform, and Hot Cockpit. Three years later, the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) was formed in Bangalore and he was posted there.
At ADE, Kalam served as a senior scientific assistant, heading a small team that developed a prototype hovercraft. Defence Minister Krishna Menon rode in India’s first indigenous hovercraft with Kalam at the controls. But for reasons never explained, the project which would have been a considerable international achievement in those days, was not encouraged. This was probably one of the reasons why he moved out of ADE in 1962 and joined India’s space program.
Thoroughly Indian, the only brief exposure that he got abroad was in 1963-64 when he was invited by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to spend four months in the United States at the Wallops Island Rocketry Centre and the Langley Research Centre.
During 1963-82, he served the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) in various capacities. Here Kalam initiated Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP) activities, then after a stint with the aerodynamics and design group, he joined the satellite launch vehicle team at Thumba, near Trivandram and soon became Project Director for SLV-3. As Project Director, he was responsible for carrying out the design, development, qualification and flight testing of 44 major sub systems. The project managed to put Rohini, a scientific satellite, into orbit in July 1980. He was honoured with a Padma Bhushan in 1981.
In 1982, as Director of DRDO, Kalam was entrusted with the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), India’s most successful military research task to date. The programme constituted of 5 major projects for meeting the requirements of the defence services and for establishing re-entry technology.
The 5 projects were scheduled to be completed in a time frame of only 10 years and consisted of:
Nag – an anti-tank guided missile
Prithvi – a surface-to-surface battlefield missile
Akash – a swift, medium-range surface-to-air missile.
Trishul – a quick-reaction surface-to-air missile with a shorter range.
Agni – an intermediate range ballistic missile, the mightiest of them all
From his SLV-3 experience, Kalam had learned the advantages of team work and of sharing the tasks with partners in private and public sector industries. In the new management structure of the missile program, Kalam, as the Chairman of the Programme Management Board, delegated almost all executive and financial powers to five carefully selected Project Directors and kept himself free to address the core technology issues. His task was to inspire and monitor over 20 institutions and partners outside – ranging from large public and private sector suppliers to small specialist firms that needed seed money to take up the precision tasks.
The missiles went up more or less on schedule: Trishul in 1985, Prithvi in 1988, Agni in 1989 and the others in 1990. The development and successful flight test of Prithvi, Trishul, Akash, Nag, and Agni established the indigeneous capability towards self reliance in defence preparedness. The successful launching of ‘Agni’ surface-to-surface missile was a unique achievement which made India a member of an exclusive club of highly developed countries. The Trishul has the unique distinction of being capable of serving all three services.
The establishment of the Research Centre Imarat(RCI), a campus 8km from DRDL, in 1988 was perhaps the most satisfying achievement for Kalam during the missile years. He received generous funding from the Government to build the futuristic centre, which is totally geared for work in advanced missile technologies. Its state-of-the-art facilities are set in a unique ambience and the level of comfort accorded to the individual worker is matched by few R&D institutions. And Kalam’s interest in the environment saw RCI emerge as an oasis in a rocky wasteland. It has a small farm that meets the food requirements of those who stay in the RCI quarters. Kalam was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1990.
On 25th November 1997, in appreciation of his contributions to Indian defence and science, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was awarded India’s highest civilian honour- the Bharat Ratna. In October 1998, he bagged the prestigious Indira Gandhi award for national integration(for 1997).
After 10 years in DRDL, he went to New Delhi to take over from Arunachalam as Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister – reluctantly, many in DRDL felt. But the system created by Kalam had taken a firm hold in that decade and the missile programme passed on smoothly into its final phase of production and induction.
In Delhi, Kalam as head of the DRDO had to deliver other prestigious projects, such as the Arjun MBT and the Light Combat Aircraft(LCA) projects. Strength respects strength, this is Kalam’s usual response to the question why India needs its own missiles or a battle tank or a combat aircraft. While management practices he adopted for the missile program have inevitably rubbed off on these projects, there are no miracles to be had in strategic development areas. There have been technical problems. Even in the missile program, work on the SAMs and the ATM is slower than anticipated. But Trishul’s recent multiple test flights have demonstrated that the system Kalam put in place has inherent strengths.
Kalam is by no means a miracle man. As the head of a vast network of laboratories – whose products include avalanche-controlling structures in Kashmir, water desalination kits for the Thar desert, a world class sonar submarine finder for the latest warship – INS Delhi, and infra-red night vision goggles for the Indian Army – Kalam’s attention is necessarily a bit diffused. His self-effacing persona cloaks a formidable catalyst who can make people work.
Kalam is happiest at the drawing board, in discussion with his scientists on how their dreams for the next millennium can be fulfilled. The projects envisaged include an air breathing hyperplane spacecraft that draws oxygen from the atmosphere rather than carry it all the way from the ground, reusable missiles and stealth technology. Kalam has shown that with adequate funding, freedom from procedural holdups and a people-oriented management, India can make products of internationally acceptable technical standards in a demanding arena like defence.
Science, according to Kalam, is a global phenomenon. He feels there are a few areas where India can develop its core competence. These areas are software engineering, computer products and design, agriculture and food, aviation, defence research and space technology and chemical engineering. This will lead to a highly beneficial economic and social progress for the nation.
On 25th November 1999, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was appointed Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and accorded the rank of a Cabinet Minister. His role was to advise on overall scientific development in the country on issues relating to scientific and technical policy in different sectors. Kalam also advised on matters relating to achieving technological self-reliance and foreign collaboration.
On December 8, 2000, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Shri K.C. Pant conferred the Life-time Contribution Award in Engineering 2000 on Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the annual function of the Indian National Academy of Engineering in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, Kalam said that Engineering and technology should be used for the upliftment of the people living below the poverty line.
On November 10, 2001, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam quit as principal scientific advisor to the government. Sources close to Kalam, said he quit because of lack of executive authority. However Kalam had been for quite some time keen on pursuing academic interests and helping scientists across the country in developing their research capabilities. That’s why after quitting he took over the job as distinguished professor at Anna University.
Dr Kalam has spent the past few years developing the concept of India Millennium Missions 2020 – a blueprint for transforming India into a developed nation. He calls it the second vision of the nation and says he wants to focus on the children of India to ignite in their minds a love for science and the nation’s mission: a developed India.
On July 25, 2002, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was sworn in as the 11th President of India by Chief Justice of India B.N. Kirpal in the Central Hall of Parliament at an impressive function telecast live across the country. Kalam took the oath in the name of God as a 21-gun salute boomed in the background
Dr. Abdul Kalam has visualized the following distinctive profile for India by the year 2020:
1. A Nation where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line.
2. A Nation where there is an equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water.
3. A Nation where agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony.
4. A Nation where education with value system is not denied to any meritorious candidates because of societal or economic discrimination.
5. A Nation which is the best destination for the most talented scholars, scientists, and investors.
6. A Nation where the best of health care is available to all.
7. A Nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption free.
8. A Nation where poverty has been totally eradicated, illiteracy removed and crimes against women and children are absent and none in the society feels alienated.
9. A Nation that is prosperous, healthy, secure, peaceful and happy and continues with a sustainable growth path.
10. A Nation that is one of the best places to live in and is proud of its leadership.
Dr. Kalam: The Kind Human
A truly Inspirational Story of a boss!
On a day at TERLS:
There were about 70 scientists working on a very hectic project. All of them were really frustrated due to the pressure of work and the demands of their boss but everyone was loyal to him and did not think of quitting the job.
One day, one scientist came to his boss and told him – “Sir, I have promised to my children that I will take them to the exhibition going on in our township. So I want to leave the office at 5 30 pm”. His boss replied OK, You’re permitted to leave the office early today.
The Scientist started working. He continued his work after lunch. As usual he got involved to such an extent that he looked at his watch when he felt he was close to completion. The time was 8.30 PM. Suddenly he remembered of the promise he had given to his children.He looked for his boss, He was not there. Having told him in the morning itself, he closed everything and left for home.
Deep within himself, he was feeling guilty for having disappointed his children. He reached home. Children were not there. His wife alone was sitting in the hall and reading magazines.The situation was explosive, any talk would boomerang on him. His wife asked him Would you like to have coffee or shall I straight away serve dinner if you are hungry.The man replied If you would like to have coffee, I too will have but what about Children ?? .
Wife replied You don’t know?? , Your manager came here at 5.15 PM and has taken the children to the exhibition .What had really happened was ….: The boss who granted him permission was observing him working seriously at 5.00 PM. He thought to himself, this person will not leave the work, but if he has promised his children they should enjoy the visit to exhibition. So he took the lead in taking them to exhibition. The boss does not have to do it every time. But once it is done, loyalty is established.That is why all the scientists at Thumba continued to work under their boss even though the stress was tremendous.
The boss was none other than Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam .
Another Life incident, when Dr. Kalam was asked a question :
“Could you give an example, from your own experience, of how leaders should manage failure?”
Dr. Kalam said “Let me tell you about my experience. In 1973 I became the project director of India’s satellite launch vehicle program, commonly called the SLV-3. Our goal was to put India’s Rohini satellite into orbit by 1980. I was given funds and human resources — but was told clearly that by 1980 we had to launch the satellite into space.
Thousands of people worked together in scientific and technical teams towards that goal. By 1979 — I think the month was August — we thought we were ready. As the project director, I went to the control center for the launch. At four minutes before the satellite launch, the computer began to go through the checklist of items that needed to be checked. One minute later, the computer program put the launch on hold; the display showed that some control components were not in order.
My experts — I had four or five of them with me — told me not to worry; they had done their calculations and there was enough reserve fuel. So I bypassed the computer, switched to manual mode, and launched the rocket. In the first stage, everything worked fine. In the second stage, a problem developed. Instead of the satellite going into orbit, the whole rocket system plunged into the Bay of Bengal. It was a big failure.
That day, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, Prof. Satish Dhawan, had called a press conference. The launch was at 7:00 am, and the press conference — where journalists from around the world were present — was at 7:45 am at ISRO’s satellite launch range in Sriharikota [in Andhra Pradesh in southern India]. Prof. Dhawan, the leader of the organization, conducted the press conference himself. He took responsibility for the failure — he said that the team had worked very hard, but that it needed more technological support. He assured the media that in another year, the team would definitely succeed.
Now, I was the project director, and it was my failure, but instead, he took responsibility for the failure as chairman of the organization. The next year, in July 1980, we tried again to launch the satellite and this time we succeeded. The whole nation was jubilant.
Again, there was a press conference. Prof. Dhawan called me aside and told me, You conduct the press conference today. I learned a very important lesson that day. When failure occurred, the leader of the organization owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience.
Dr. Kalam’s Inspirational messages:
As a child of God, I am greater than anything that can happen to me.
Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but synthetic happiness.
Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.
Do we not realize that self respect comes with self reliance?
Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.
English is necessary as at present original works of science are in English. I believe that in two decades times original works of science will start coming out in our languages. Then we can move over like the Japanese.
God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers.
Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.
I was willing to accept what I couldn’t change.
If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.
In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime.
It means, people who are in high and responsible positions, if they go against righteousness, righteousness itself will get transformed into a destroyer.
Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.
Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person.
Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.
Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.
My view is that at a younger age your optimism is more and you have more imagination etc. You have less bias.
No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion.
Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around.
To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal.
Unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. In this world, fear has no place. Only strength respects strength.
We have not invaded anyone. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them.
We must think and act like a nation of a billion people and not like that of a million people. Dream, dream, dream!
We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.
We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage.
Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? Is it a legacy of our colonial years? We want foreign television sets. We want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology. Why this obsession with everything imported?
You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organisation and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action, converts adversity into prosperity.
When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust… Withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad…
What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful and to remove the wrongs of injured…
Away! Fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more! Work claimed my wakeful nights, my busy days Albeit brought memories of Rameswaram shore Yet haunt my dreaming gaze!
I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness?..
My worthiness is all my doubt His Merit- all my fear- Contrasting which my quality Does however appear
Indeed APJ Abdul Kalam is a great personality, whose contemplated words mean much more than just the literal meaning.
Some lessons in the life of Dr. Kalam.
In 1936; Kalam’s education initiated at the age of 5 years in Rameswaram Panchayat elementary school. He had a Teacher Muthu Iyer who took special interest in him as he performed very well in a class exercise. He was impressed and next day he came his house to tell his father that Abdul was a very good student. His parents were happy and he also got his favourite sweet from his mother. When he was in first class, one day he did not turn up at school. Teacher Muthu Iyer noticed his absence and same evening he went to Kalam’s father to ask what the problem was and whether he can do anything to help. On that day, Kalam was having fever. Another important thing, which he noticed was Kalam’s hand writing, was very poor. He gave a three page writing exercise ensured that Kalam did the exercise everyday regularly. By these actions of his teacher Muthu Iyer, Kalam’s father believed that Muthu Iyer was not only a good teacher but also a great influence who shaped kalam with good habits.
Kalam was studying in 5th class at the age of 10 when he was given a vision for his life. He had a teacher, Shri Siva Subramania Iyer. He was a very good teacher. One day he was teaching about bird’s flight. He drew a diagram of a bird on the blackboard depicting the wings, tail and the body structure with the head. He explained how the birds create the lift and fly. He also explained how they change direction while flying. Nearly 25 minutes he gave the lecture with various information such as lift, drag and how the birds fly in a formation of 10, 20 or 30 etc. At the end of the class, he wanted to know whether the students understood how the birds fly, to which Kalam replied he didn’t understand. When he said this, he asked the other students whether they understood or not. Many students said that they did not understand. Hence, the teacher took the students to the beach that evening and asked them to observe how the bird flapped their wings, twisted their tales to give directions to the flight and used their will, motivation and own life to act as the engine of their flight. The theory coupled with practical example gave Kalam the goal and mission in life. He worked towards joining aeronautical engineering in MIT, Chennai
Greatly inspired by Aryabhata, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya’s work as Indians who had made significant contributions to astronomy and mathematics, Kalam had found his areas of interest and motivational figures. Working under Prof. Srinivasan, the then Director of MIT, Kalam was given a project in third year of his course, he was assigned a project to design a low-level attack aircraft together with six other colleagues. He was given the responsibility of system design and system integration by integrating the team members. Also, he was responsible for aerodynamic and structural design of the project. The other five of the team took up the design of propulsion, control, guidance, avionics and instrumentation of the aircraft. He reviewed the project and declared Kalam’s work to be gloomy and disappointing. He didn’t lend an ear to Kalam’s difficulties in bringing together data base from multiple designers. Kalam asked for a month’s time and Dr. Srinivasan gave only 3 days time. Also, a warning that if the task was not completed in time, Kalam’s scholarship would be revoked. Kalam had a jolt of life, as scholarship was the lifeline, without which he could not continue with his studies. So the team, skipping the dinner
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