Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who left for his heavenly abode on July 27, 2015, is undeniably one of the tallest figures of India in all aspects. His legacies as an extraordinary scientist, educationist, and people’s president have left a deeper impact on Indian citizens.
Born in a large Muslim joint family in Rameswaram, Kalam's life was full of hustles and struggles. As disclosed by him on multiple occasions, 10-year-old Kalam had to wake up every day at 4 am for his mathematics tuition as he had to take a bath before going to his teacher's place. Recalling, his teacher Swamiyar, Kalam wrote, "He was an extraordinary teacher who used to accept only five students per year for free of cost."
During his childhood, Kalam worked as newspaper hawker and used to travel 3 km to Rameswaram Road Railway station every day to collect newspapers and distribute it in the town. His positive attitude towards life since childhood, made him grow as the figure people of India admire today.
Kalam’s legacy as a scientist is well-known worldwide; he was the spearhead behind the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme which gave India its most powerful missiles and nuclear capabilities. The programme, which was conceived by Kalam, was adopted by the Indian Government in the year 1983 and gave the country its five indigenously types of missiles -- Prithvi, Agni, Trishul, Nag and Akash.
He was also a crucial figure behind 1998’s Pokhran II testing, which brought the nation into the worldwide radar as a developed nuclear state.
Apart from his legacy as a scientist, which earned him the title 'Missile Man of India', he was also a passionate educationist and author who has penned many books. Dr Kalam was a regular visiting faculty to the IIMs, and premier institutions in India.
Honoured with the highest civilian awards, which includes all Padma Awards, along with the Bharat Ratna and numerous doctorates from worldwide premier institutions, he was also elected as the President of India (2002-2007) and quickly earned the title 'People’s President' due to his humble behaviour and simple lifestyle.
Dr Kalam’s birthday is celebrated as World Student’s Day as a memoir of his love for students and education. His fondness for students could be understood through his passion for teaching. He passed away while delivering a speech at IIM Shillong back in 2015.
“Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honour for me.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam