Kalam played a pivotal organisational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974. He is a professor at Anna University (Chennai) and adjunct/visiting faculty at many other academic and research institutions across India.
With the death of R. Venkataraman on January 27, 2009, Kalam became the only surviving former President of India.
APJ Abdul Kalam views on certain issues have been espoused by him in his book India 2020where he strongly advocates an action plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and into a developed nation by the year 2020. Kalam is credited with the view that India ought to take a more assertive stance in international relations; he regards his work on India's nuclear weapons program as a way to assert India's place as a future superpower.
Kalam continues to take an active interest in other developments in the field of science and technology as well. He has proposed a research programme for developing bio-implants. He is a supporter of Open source software over proprietary solutions and believes that the use of open source software on a large scale will bring more people the benefits of information technology.
Kalam's belief in the power of science to resolve society's problems and his views of these problems as a result of inefficient distribution of resources is modernistic. He also sees science and technology as ideology-free areas and emphasises the cultivation of scientific temper and entrepreneurial drive. In this, he finds a lot of support among India's new business leaders like the founders of Infosys and Wipro, (leading Indian IT corporations) who began their careers as technology professionals much in the same way Kalam did.
His views on issues of peace and weapons are controversial. He is quoted as follows:
In the 3,000-year history of India, barring 600 years, the country has been ruled by others. If you need development, the country should witness peace and peace is ensured by strength. Missiles were developed to strengthen the country.
Kalam's father was a devout Muslim, who owned boats which he rented out to local fishermen and was a good friend of Hindu religious leaders and the school teachers at Rameshwaram. APJ Abdul Kalam mentions in his biography that to support his studies, he started his career as a newspaper vendor. This was also told in the book, A Boy and His Dream: Three Stories from the Childhood of Abdul Kalam by Vinita Krishna. The house Kalam was born in can still be found on the Mosque street in Rameshwaram, and his brother's curio shop abuts it. This has become a point-of-call for tourists who seek out the place. Kalam grew up in an intimate relationship with nature, and he says in Wings of Fire that he never could imagine that water could be so powerful a destroying force as that he witnessed when he was thirty three. That was in 1964 when a cyclonic storm swept away the Pamban bridge and a trainload of passengers with it and also Kalam's native village, Dhanushkodi.
He is a scholar of Thirukkural; in most of his speeches, he quotes at least one kural. Kalam has written several...