Abdul Kalam

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  • Topic: India, Ballistic missile, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
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  • Published : January 4, 2007
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President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

"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 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. Even at 71, he is indefatigable and dreams of making India into a technological superpower. More importantly, he is still capable of acting on it. Born on 15th October 1931 at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam studied at Schwartz High School in Ramanathapuram. After graduating in science from St. Joseph's College in Tiruchi, he did his DMIT in Aeronautical Engineering at the MIT, Madras, during 1954-57. 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. Here he also learnt how to check a crankshaft for wear and tear, and a connecting rod and crankshaft for twist. 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 &...
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