APJ Abdul Kalam

APJ Abdul Kalam Short Biography, Former President, Scientist, Author

APJ Abdul Kalam Short Biography

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, popularly known as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was the former President of India and a legendary Space Scientist. Before becoming President of India in 2002, APJ Abdul Kalam worked at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). His pivotal work in the field of Missile Technology had earned him the title of ‘Missile Man of India’.

In this short biography of APJ Abdul Kalam, you will read about the life, childhood, career, books, and death of APJ Abdul Kalam.

Personal Life

APJ Abdul Kalam was born on 15 Oct 1931 in a poor Tamil Muslim family of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen was a boat owner and ran a ferry to the Rameswaram temple while his mother was a homemaker[1]. Abdul Kalam was the youngest son of the family having three brothers and one sister.

Kalam’s childhood was spent in poverty but he was a hardworking student and got average grades at Rameswaram Elementary School. Mathematics and Physics used to be his favorite subjects in High School. In 1954, APJ Abdul Kalam graduated in Physics from St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli. In 1955, he went to Madras (now Chennai) and studied Aerospace Engineering at Madras Institute of Technology. He never got married and dedicated his life’s major part into Science.

In the further sections of APJ Abdul Kalam short biography, you will know about the Abdul Kalam’s career as a scientist and his tenure as the President of India and his sad demise.

Abdul Kalam ‘The Missile Man of India’

APJ Abdul Kalam Short Biography : Dr. Kalam at DRDO

Dr. Kalam at DRDO; The Quint

In 1960, after completing his engineering, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam got selected for the position of scientist in DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment. During the early days of his career, Abdul Kalam worked under the notable scientist Vikram Sarabhai as a part of the committee of INCOSPAR. During 1965, APJ Abdul Kalam worked independently on an expandable rocket project for the first time. The program continued until 1969 and many other engineer and scientists joined in.

A big opportunity came to Abdul Kalam in 1969, when he was appointed the Project Director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III). He and his team were successful in deploying the Rohini satellite near the orbit of the Earth in July 1980. Dr. Kalam’s efforts in developing the projects on SLV-III and Polar SLV from 1970s to 1990s proved to be successful.

Dr. Kalam headed various ballistic missile projects including Project Devil and Project Valiant in which he used the technology of SLV program. This was the time when Abdul Kalam got the title of ‘The Missile Man of India’.

During the period July 1992 to December 1999, Dr Kalam was the Secretary of the Defense Research and Development Organisation, as well as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister. In his direction, India’s nuclear tests at Pokhran II [2] were made possible.


APJ Abdul Kalam as President of India

APJ Abdul Kalam Short Biography: Dr. Kalam at RashtrapatiBhawan

President Dr. Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhawan; India Today

In July 2002, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam became the 11th President of India succeeding KR Narayanan. Due to his calm nature and love towards the countrymen, Abdul Kalam is popularly known as People’s President. He was the first bachelor and scientist to become the President and served until 25 July 2007.

He made a number of tough decisions as a President; the toughest according to him was signing the Bill of Office of Profit.

APJ Abdul Kalam was third President to be awarded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India. The other two presidents are Dr. Sarvpalli Radhakrishnan and Dr Zakir Hussain.

Books by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

Apart from being a great scientist and a national leader, Dr. Kalam was a fine writer too. He has almost a dozen books to his credit. He his most popularly known for his books ‘India 2020’ and ‘Wings of Fire’, the latter being his autobiography. Some of other noteworthy works by Abdul Kalam are ‘Ignited Minds’, ‘Mission India’. He also released a sequel to his famous book India 2o20 named ‘A Manifesto for Change’ which was also appreciated by the young readers.

APJ Abdul Kalam Short Biography: Wings of Fire

Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of Dr. Kalam; Amazon

This APJ Abdul Kalam short biography cannot be completed without mentioning the list of all the books written by Dr. Kalam. Therefore, following is the list of books written by Dr. Abdul Kalam.

List of Books written by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

  1. Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India
  2. Inspiring Thoughts
  3. Indomitable Spirit
  4. The Luminous Sparks
  5. Turning Points: A Journey through Challenges
  6. My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions
  7. Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology, with Roddam Narasimha
  8. India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, with Y.S. Rajan.
  9. Wings of Fire: An Autobiography, by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari.
  10. Mission India.
  11. Envisioning an Empowered Nation, with A. Sivathanu Pillai.
  12. You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond, with Arun Tiwari.
  13. Target 3 Billion, with Srijan Pal Singh


Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was such a great personality that many authors went on to write his biographies. There is a total of 6 different biography books of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam written by different authors in different years before and after his death.

Awards and Recognitions

Year of award or honour Name of award or honor
1981 Padma Bhushan
1990 Padma Vibhushan
1994 Distinguished Fellow
1995 Honorary Fellow
1997 Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration
1997 Bharat Ratna
1998 Veer Savarkar Award
2000 Ramanujan Award
2007 Honorary Doctorate of Science and Technology
2007 King Charles II Medal
2007 Honorary Doctorate of Science
2008 Doctor of Engineering (Honoris Causa)
2008 Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa)
2009 Honorary Doctorate
2009 Hoover Medal
2009 International von Kármán Wings Award
2010 Doctor of Engineering
2011 IEEE Honorary Membership
2012 Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa)
2013 Von Braun Award
2014 Doctor of Science

Death of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

The way he dedicated his life towards Science and educating youngsters, Dr. Kalam died doing the same. During a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong on 27 July 2015, he passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest.[3]

The nation will remember him always as the People’s President and thank him for the technologies he developed for the country.


Here, APJ Abdul Kalam short biography comes to an end. What are your thoughts about the legendary Indian scientist and former president Dr Abdul Kalam? If you have any questions or suggestions, please share with us in comments below.


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