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Abdul KalamAvul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam ( born October 15, 1931, Tamil Nadu, India, usually and mistakenly referred to as Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam , despite not having a PhD,) was the eleventh President of India, serving from 2002 to 2007. A notable scientist and engineer, he is often referred to as the Missile Man of India for his work and is considered a progressive mentor, innovator and visionary in India. He is also popularly known as the People's President. His term as president ended on July 25, 2007.
HonorsKalam has received honorary doctorates from as many as thirty universities . The Government of India has honored him with the nation's highest civilian honors: the Padma Bhushan in 1981; Padma Vibhushan in 1990; and the Bharat Ratna in 1997. Kalam is the third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna before being elected to the highest office, the other two being Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain. He is also the first scientist and first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Referred to as the "People's President", Kalam is often considered amongst India's greatest presidents, going on to win a poll conducted by news channel CNN-IBN for India's Best President.
In October 2007, Kalam received a Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Wolverhampton.
Political viewsKalam's probable views on certain issues have been espoused by him in his book India 2020 where 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 emphasizes 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.
Personal lifeAPJ Abdul Kalam was born in 1931 in a middle-class family in Rameshwaram, a town well-known for its Hindu shrines. His mother tongue is Tamil. His father, a devout Muslim, 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 at Rameswaram, 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 six. 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.
Kalam observes strict personal discipline, vegetarianism, teetotalism and celibacy. Kalam is a scholar of Thirukkural; in most of his speeches, he quotes at least one kural. Kalam has written several inspirational books, most notably his autobiography Wings of Fire, aimed at motivating Indian youth. Another of his books, Guiding Souls: Dialogues on the Purpose of Life reveals his spiritual side. He has written poems in Tamil as well. It has been reported that there is considerable demand in South Korea for translated versions of books authored by him.
Dr. Kalam visited the Carnegie Mellon campus on October 16th, 2007 where he spoke in front of numerous students and faculty regarding the role of science and the view of India in the future. He received a honorary doctorate from the university.
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