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Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, was an Indian aerospace scientist. Popularly known as the Missile Man of India, he served as the 11th President of the country. Born on 15 October 1931, he inspired the youth of the country and advocated the principle of 'Simple living, high thinking'. This year 27 July marks the 5th anniversary of his demise. Though Dr Kalam is not with us, his thoughts, opinions and way of life continues to be an inspiration for millions of people in India and across the world.
On Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's death anniversary, here are some facts related to his life:
1. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was born into an impoverished family of seven in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu. His father Jainulabdeen had a boat and he used it to transport Hindu pilgrims who visited Rameshwaram. The boat was the only source of income for the family.
2. Dr Kalam was the youngest of the four brothers and one sister in his family.
3. Though the financial condition of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's family wasn't good, his ancestors were quite wealthy and owned the business of supplying groceries between the mainland and Sri Lanka. They also owned the business of ferrying Hindu pilgrims and held the title of 'Mara Kalam Iyakkivar' meaning 'the boat steerers'. However, when the Pamban bridge was constructed in 1914, the family business failed badly and all the fortunes and wealth of the family was lost.
4. When very young, APJ Abdul Kalam took up the job of selling newspapers to ease the family expenses.
5. He attended Schwartz Higher Secondary School in Ramanathapuram. He used to spend hours studying, especially mathematics.
6. APJ Abdul Kalam was an average student but was quite hardworking and determined to do something in his life.
7. In the year 1954, he graduated in physics from St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli.
8. Kalam moved to Madras (Chennai) in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in the Madra Institute of Technology.
9. He missed the golden opportunity to become a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force. There was a vacancy for only eight candidates and APJ Abdul Kalam had secured the ninth position. The first eight people to qualify were selected.
10. Later in life due to his achievements, Dr Kalam was given doctorates by 40 universities across the world.
11. Dr Kalam has penned many poems in Tamil and was fond of playing the Veena, a stringed musical instrument.
12. In the 2002 presidential elections, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam won with an electoral vote of 922,884 and succeeded President KR Narayanan.
13. Dr Kalam was fondly called the 'People's President' and went back to his civilian life of writing, education and public service after his first term.
14. He has given immense contribution towards the nuclear capabilities of India. The Pokhran-2 nuclear tests held in the year 1998 are all because of his hard work and technical support.
15. Dr Kalam also played an important role in the development of the Prithvi and Agni missiles. He also designed various powerful and indigenous weapons. The BrahMos Aerospace between Russia and India is the living evidence of the hard work and determination of late APJ Abdul Kalam.
16. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam died due to cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015, while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong.
17. In 2015, the United Nations reportedly declared Dr Kalam's birth anniversary on October 15 to be observed as 'World Students' Day', as per a claim on Wikipedia.
18. After the sad demise of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the Swiss government acknowledged his visit to the country on May 26 and declared the day to be observed as Science Day.