“Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam remains our inspiration at DRDO.”
May 11th 1998, a red letter day in the history of India, when the ground shook in Pokhran and awakened the world to see a new India that is powerful and yet peace loving. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee then Prime Minister of India added new dimension to the popular slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” by adding “Jai Vigyan” to it and making as “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Jai Vigyan”. The ‘Operation Shakti’ took the world by surprise and gave Shakti to India. Today, India is recognized as a strong nation and a substantial credit goes to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, then DRDO Chief and Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri. Born on 15th October 1931 to a humble family at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, he went on to do his Aeronautical Engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology where he forged his initial passion for Aeronautics. In 1958, he joined DRDO at ADE, Bangalore where he designed the first Hovercraft “Nandi” before he joined ISRO. At ISRO, he made significant contribution as Project Director to develop Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) to inject Rohini Satellite into orbit and made the country join the elite club of few nations. Later he joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as Director DRDL, Hyderabad in 1982. It is his vision that resulted in the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), that has ensured country to achieve enviable position in Missile technologies by developing Missiles — Agni, Prithvi, Nag, Akash and Trishul for which Dr. Kalam is also known as “The Missile Man” of India. He was DRDO Chief from 1992–1999 and provided the much needed thrust for strengthening self-reliance in defence systems by progressing multiple technology development activities and mission mode projects including DRDO spin-off for societal applications. Dr Kalam served as the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, in the rank of Cabinet Minister, from November 1999–2001 and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications. Dr Kalam became the 11th President of India on 25th July 2002. He took up a mission to ignite the young minds for national development. Honed by his experience at ISRO & DRDO, Dr Kalam brought to this highest office a spirit of dedicated service and inspirational zeal which earned him the title of the “People’s President”. He was conferred Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in the year 1997 and received several Honorary Doctorates, Fellowships and National awards from many Academic and Scientific institutions. A man of many talents, Dr Kalam was a connoisseur of classical Carnatic music, wrote poetry and authored many books. The reminiscence and his inspirational words will always keep motivating the scientific fraternity to aspire for greater heights and to set new benchmarks in the years to come.