Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam served as the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, in the rank of Cabinet Minister, from November 1999 to November 2001 and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications. Dr. Kalam was also the Chairman, Ex-officio, of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) and piloted the India Millennium Mission 2020.
Born on 15th October 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr.Kalam, graduated in Science from St. Joseph's College, Trichy in 1954 and specialized in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1957. Dr. Kalam was a pioneer in fibreglass technology and led a young team to initiate this effort at ISRO from design, development leading to production of composites rocket motor cases. Dr.Kalam made significant contribution as Project Director to develop India's first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) which successfully injected the Rohini satellite in the near earth orbit in July 1980 and made India an exclusive member of Space Club.
He was responsible for the evolution of ISRO's launch vehicle programme, particularly the PSLV configuration. After working for two decades in ISRO and mastering launch vehicle technologies, Dr. Kalam took up the responsibility of developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at Defence Research and Development Organisation as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He was responsible for the development and operationalization of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions. Another significant contribution was creating Research Centre Imarat for advanced technologies. He was the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999. During this period he led to the weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in collaboration with Department of Atomic Energy, which made India a nuclear weapon State. He also gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by progressing multiple development tasks and mission projects such as Light Combat Aircraft.
As Chairman of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), he led the country with the help of 500 experts to arrive at Technology Vision 2020 giving a road map for transforming India from the present developing status to a developed nation.
Dr.Kalam took up academic pursuit as Professor, Technology & Societal Transformation at Anna University, Chennai from November 2001 and was involved in teaching and research tasks. Above all he took up a mission to ignite the young minds for national development by meeting school students across the country. During the last decade of his life, Dr Kalam could address more five million youth below the age of 17 and inspired them to become an active participant of India Vision 2020.
Dr.Kalam is passionate about bringing rural prosperity through PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas), in which science and technology has to play a key role. Based on his diverse experience he has been propagating the concept of World Knowledge Platform through which the core competencies of organizations and nations can be synergized to innovate and create solutions and products for the challenges of 21st century.
In his literary pursuit Dr.Kalam authored a number of books, such as "Wings of Fire", "India 2020 - A Vision for the New Millennium", "My journey" and "Ignited Minds - Unleashing the power within India", "Indomitable Spirit", "Guiding Souls", "Envisioning an Empowered Nation", "Inspiring Thoughts", "Children Ask Kalam", "You are born to blossom", "Family and the Nation", "Life Tree" and "The Luminous Sparks" a collection of his poems. Many of them have become household names in India and among the Indian nationals abroad. These books have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages.
Dr.Kalam easily was one of the most distinguished scientists of India with the unique honour of receiving honorary doctorates from 48 Universities and institutions from India and abroad. The Honorary Doctorates include, Nyenrode Business University, Netherlands; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg USA; University of Wolverhampton, UK; University of Kentucky,USA; Oakland University, Michigan USA; University of Waterloo, Canada; University Sans Malaysia, Malaysia University of Sydney, Australia and the Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
He was awarded with the Padma Bhushan (1981) and the Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (1997). He is a recipient of several other awards and Fellow of many professional institutions.
The Royal Society, UK awarded Dr Kalam with the King Charles-II Medal for Science and Technology in October 2007. He received the Woodrow Wilson Award in 2008. The Royal Academy of Engineering, London conferred on him the International Medal 2008 in June 2009 at London. The Hoover Board of Awards presented him the Hoover Medal 2008 at New York in April 2009. The Aerospace Historical Society in Collaboration with the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) at the California Institute of Technology awarded him the 2009 International Von Karman Wings Award in September 2009.
Dr.Kalam became the 11th President of India on 25th July 2002. After five eventful years he demitted office on 25th July 2007. His focus was on transforming India into a developed nation by 2020.