Politics is a subject that the Indians love to have as their coffee-table discussions. However, this doesn’t mean they enjoy it a lot—name any politician and you’ll find innumerable debates against him. But, there are some politicians, who simply transcend all these dichotomies associated with the politicians and gain immense respect worldwide. One such politician is our erstwhile President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam or APJ Abdul Kalam. Yes, we know that you already know a lot about him, but here we shall discuss all those aspects of him that are rarely known. Here we go—
1. A Not-so-easy Beginning
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil family in Rameshwaram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. His father’s name was Jainulabudeen, a boat owner, and his mother Ashiamma, a housewife. He came from a very poor background and started working at an early age to help his family financially. After completing school, Kalam distributed news to pay his college fees.
2. A Great Scholar
After completing his education at the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. He later moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist
3. An Average but Hardworking Student
When Abdul Kalam said that the “best brains of a nation may be found at the last bench”, he wasn’t talking about any hypothetical or unimaginable situation. You knew that he is an Aerospace Engineer, but did you that he had never been a brilliant student or class topper his entire school life? But, of course, according to his school mates and teachers, he had been a bright student with eagerness to gain knowledge and become someone in life! His forte in school had been Mathematics, of course!
4. A Scientist Without any Formal PhD
You’ve known him as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, but did you know that this famous personality never had a formal PhD degree from any recognized institution? Yes, he did apply for a PhD degree at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore but was refused on the note that he didn’t have the “requisite scientific credentials”. Well, he didn’t let this shatter himself and within a few decades became one of the most respectable and distinguished scientists in India with the unique honor of receiving honorary PhD degrees from over 30 institutions and universities. So, the next time you find anyone pinpointing at him for his lack of a “PhD” degree, tell him/her this.
5. The Man Behind India’s Entrance into the Space Club
Being an Aerospace Engineer, he was bestowed with the responsibility of being the Project Director of the development of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). It was under his supervision that India’s first satellite, Rohini, was injected near the earth’s orbit in 1980. With this India finally entered the posh arena of the Space Club which was formerly ruled over by the US and the European countries.
6. The Youth Icon
He is the only person, apart from Nitish Mishra, from politics to receive the MTV Youth Icon Award in 2003. This might be nothing for you, if you’re a resident of the western countries; but, in India, where people simply love to hate politicians, this is indeed a surprising change. Besides being an icon for all the Indians, he has also been an inspiration to people across the National borders, and this was exemplified with pomp and pride when the United Nations recognized in 79th
birthday as the World Students’ Day
! Also Read: Top 10 Greatest Indians After Gandhi
7. Teaching India!
It’s true that he’s been an engineer and scientist, and has been associated in implementing various scientific sojourns in India. However, when he used to ask other Indians to take up academic professions or uplifts the status of teachers, remember that he wasn’t just giving lectures. In spite of being engaged in lucrative professions, he worked as a professor for Anna University, Chennai and had been part of various Technology and Societal Transformation plans where he was actively involved in teaching and research! It was with this idea of development in mind that he made it a point to regularly meet the young minds (the high school students of India) across the country during his tenure. No, it wasn’t just for “promotion”; it’s a practice that he happily conducts even today.
8. An Apolitical President
According to the rules laid down by the Indian Constitution, the President of India has to remain apolitical. However, since rules are meant to be broken, this rule too was happily flouted by most of the Presidents—but Kalam was different. But this never let him flout his constitutional duties—now that’s what we call a President in the truest sense of the term.