15 Interesting Facts About APJ Abdul Kalam – The Missile Man of India

The ‘Indian Missile Man’ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was a world-renowned scientist, researcher, academic, and politician. Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, India’s 11th President, was a forerunner of the country’s civilian space program as well as its defence and military missile development efforts. From a young age, he fought tooth and nail to complete his education and support his joint family, despite coming from a poor family. Here are 15 interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of the country:

Also read: 12 Inspiring APJ Abdul Kalam Quotes On Life, Dreams, Success & More

1. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was his full name
He had a huge name but he is better known as APJ or Abdul Kalam or Kalam or Dr. Kalam or APJ Abdul Kalam.

2.  Born in a Tamil Muslim family in Rameshwaram
He was born and raised in the town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. His father owned a ferry that transported Hindu pilgrims between Rameswaram and the now-deserted Dhanushkodi.


3. Hard Childhood

Kalam’s father, Jainulabudeen, was a boat owner and imam at a local mosque. His forefathers were wealthy, but due to business failures, the former President’s fortunes were lost, and he was forced to work odd jobs. In his family, Kalam was the youngest of four brothers and one sister. To supplement his father’s income, Kalam used to distribute newspapers after school.


4. Vegetarian Lifestyle

When he joined Saint Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli in the 1950s, Dr. Kalam became a vegetarian. He was on a student budget and couldn’t afford non-vegetarian meals because he was on a scholarship. “I was forced to become a vegetarian due to financial constraints, but I eventually came to enjoy it.” Today, I am a complete vegetarian.

5. Academic Excellence

Abdul Kalam had 7 doctorates, which may surprise you. During his lifetime, former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who was born on October 15, 1931, received honorary doctorates from 40 national and international universities.


6. Missile Man

If you’ve seen the film Parmanu, you’ll recognize Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as the mastermind behind the initiative to use missiles as a deterrent. He was in charge of the Agni and Prithvi missiles’ development and deployment. It is for this reason that he is known as India’s Missile Man. He was a firm believer in the concept of power commanding respect, and he believed that other nations would only respect India if we were powerful.

7. Awards that no one gets more than once in a lifetime

Legends do exist, to be sure. You would agree if you looked at Kalam’s life. Dr. Kalam has been awarded the Padma Bhushan (1981) and Padma Vibhushan (1990) civilian awards, as well as the highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna (1997).

8. President of the children

Indian children are said to have a preference for the two leaders. Prime Minister Nehru was known as Chacha Nehru, but it was President Kalam who was well-known among children. Kalam proposed that the youth be nurtured in order to build a better India. He was completely devoted to science and encouraged young people to pursue it. Many children of his generation recall him showing up at their science fairs or sports days solely to inspire them. His email account was open to all children in India, making him one of India’s most accessible presidents.

9. Famous Autobiography

APJ Abdul Kalam’s autobiography, ‘Wings of Fire,’ was first published in English and has since been translated and published in 13 languages. It was first published in English, but due to its popularity and public demand for information about his life, it was later translated into 13 languages, including French and Chinese. His life has also been documented in six biographies.

10. Indian Nuclear Mission

Next on our collection of interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam is a popular fact. Kalam made significant contributions to India’s nuclear arsenal. Thanks to his organizational and technical support, the Pokhran -2 nuclear tests (in 1998) were a success.

11. Failures

Kalam missed out on a chance to join the Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot. He was 9th on the list, and there were only 8 spots available. The first eight candidates on the shortlist were hired.

12. The first bachelor and scientist to live in Rashtrapati Bhawan.
On 25th July 2002, when he was sworn in as the 11th President of the Republic of India, he became the first scientist and the first bachelor to occupy the office of Rashtrapati Bhawan.

13. Solibacillus kalamii – an aerobic bacteria discovered from the HEPA filter onboard the International Space Station was named after APJ Abdul Kalam 

Scientists from NASA had named a new microbe Solibacillus kalamii in honour of Dr. Kalam who  had his early training at NASA in 1963.

14. New plant species from West Bengal named after APJ Kalam.

Drypetes kalamii, a newly discovered plant species, from two protected National Parks in West Bengal was named after him by scientists from the Botanical Survey of India in February 2018.

15. Wheeler Island renamed as Abdul Kalam Island

In September 2015, Wheeler Island, a national missile test site in Odisha, was renamed Abdul Kalam Island as a tribute to the former president of India on his second death anniversary.

16. Kalam was well-versed with several Hindu customs.

Kalam was well-versed in Hindu traditions, learning Sanskrit and reading the Bhagavad Gita in addition to his faith in the Quran and Islamic practice. Every day, he used to practise the veena (an Indian string instrument) and listen to Carnatic devotional music.

17. His only property at death was his books and personal Clothing

All that Kalam owned at his death was 2,500 books, a veena, CD Player, laptop, a wrist watch, six shirts, four trousers, three suits and a pair of shoes. He used to survive on the royalty received from the books he wrote and the government pension after his tenure as the President was over.

18. Died doing what he loved

Dr. Kalam suffered a major heart attack while giving a lecture.

He was giving a lecture at IIM Shillong on his last day. He was standing at the podium, giving his speech to hundreds of students, when he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. He was always enthusiastic about teaching and putting in long hours. And he was doing what he loved when he was taken by death.

The youth icon, Abdul Kalam, desired that every student in the country be educated and then go on to help the country grow. We hope you liked the list of interesting facts about APJ Abdul Kalam.