Every year since 2010, United Nations celebrates 15th October as World Students’ Day. A day marked to understand the importance of students in making the future of a country and the planet as a whole. But why is this day is selected to portray the significance of Student’s & their future?
On 15th October 1931, in a small town of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, a boy was born to a Tamil-Muslim family. They named him, Abdul. Today the world knows him by the name, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen (APJ) Abdul Kalam Azad.
On this day the 11th President & the missile man of India was born. Kalam Sir always had a special place in his heart and his life for the young students because he believed that they are the future of the country and the world. His love for the student is evident in the fact that post-presidency he visited numerous colleges and academic institutions across India delivering lectures and inspiring students. By god’s grace, his strong love for the students made him fulfil his dreams and he took his last breath addressing students of IIM, Shillong on the topic- ‘Creating livable planet earth’.
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu on 15th October 1931 and had to face a lot of struggle in his childhood days. In British controlled India, his ancestors were wealthy traders and were landowners, with numerous properties and large tracts of land. Abdul Kalam’s father, Jainulabdeen was Imam of a local mosque and was a Boat owner himself. His boat used to carry pilgrims between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi, a coastal town which is now uninhabited.
However, after the opening of the Pamban Bridge, his father lost the boat ferry business and Kalam family’s life took poor turns. Kalam understood his responsibilities and sold newspapers to supplement his family’s income. However, even after his family’s monetary crunch during his school years at the Schwartz Higher Secondary School, Ramanathapuram, Kalam was a bright and hardworking student and had a strong desire to learn.
After completing his education at the School, Kalam attended Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli to graduate in physics in 1954. He then moved to Madras (now Chennai) in 1955 to study Aerospace Engineering in Madras Institute of Technology.
Kalam narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he got a ninth position in qualifiers, while only eight positions were available in the IAF.
His interest in mathematics, physics and aerospace engineering made him join the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation as a scientist.
In 1969, Kalam got transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980.
He also served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the then Prime Minister of India and Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from July 1992 to December 1999.
He played a vital role in increasing India’s image as a Nuclear power around the world. He helped the defence forces in developing major missiles including Aakash, Agni & Prithvi. His work in the field of defence earned him the title of ‘Missile Man of India’.
On 10 June 2002, the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) nominated Abdul Kalam Sir for the post of Indian President. The two other major opposition parties of the time, both the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party backed his candidacy. As a result, Indian got its 11th, and the most iconic and hardworking President till date, Mr APJ Abdul Kalam.
He swore for his position as President of India on 25th July 2002 and moved into the Rashtrapati Bhavan. APJ Abdul Kalam is the third president of India after Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr Zakir Hussain (1963), to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, before becoming the President.
During his presidency, he received a lot of respects, honours, awards and respects from around the world. The media named him ‘People’s President’. After his presidential tenure, Kalam became a visiting faculty at IIM Shillong, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Indore and at various other academic and research institutions across India.
On 27 July 2015, Kalam Sir travelled to Shillong to deliver a lecture on “Creating a Livable Planet Earth” at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. Suddenly he felt a pain in his chest and suddenly collapsed. He was rushed to the nearest hospital where was declared brought dead after a sudden cardiac arrest.
After his death, his attorney declared his will which included his few personal possessions. Books, his veena, some articles of clothing, a CD player and a laptop. He had given away his life’s earnings and wealth for the welfare of Students & underprivileged children. Even till date, he is loved and respected and is forever embedded in our heart.
On his 88th Birth Anniversary, we remember his work and his thoughts for a better & developed India.