Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (1931 – 2015) was the eleventh President of India, from 2002 to 2007. He was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the Padma Vibhushan and the nation’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
Born in 1931 at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, he studied aeronautical engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology. He played a key role in the development of India’s first satellite launch vehicle, the SLV-3, in building and operationalization of India’s strategic missile and the Pokhran Nuclear Test in 1998.
As an elder statesman, he was in the public eye for his role in offering counsel, reaching out to people and building across religious and social divides. Dr. Kalam’s focus was ever on transforming India into a developed nation by 2020 and to this end he continued to travel across the country for his teaching assignment at IITs and IIMs, to address conferences and to meet students and people from all walks of life.
He passed away at one such lecture he had gone to deliver at IIM Shillong on 27th July 2015. His message and influence continue to resonate with the people across the country and in all walks of life.