Dr Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 at Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. He specialized in Aero- Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. He initially joined DRDO in 1958 and then joined Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in 1963. At ISRO, he initiated fiber reinforced plastics activities. He later joined the Satellite Launch Vehicle team at Thumba and became the Project Director for SLV-3. He has made significant contribution to the Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle. He rejoined DRDO in 1982 and was instrumental in the resurgence of the Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad. Out of his initiative was born the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDO), which is the most successful Indian military research task to-date. He was also heading other prestigious projects, such as the MBR Arjun and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Project.
Dr Abdul Kalam was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Science by several universities. He is the recipient of several awards including National Design Award; Dr Biren Roy Award; Om Prakash Bhasin Award; national Nehru Award; Prof Y Nayudamma Memorial Gold Medal (1996); GM Modi Award For science (1996); HK Firodia Award for Excellence in S&T (1996); Veer Savakar Award (1998); and Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration (1997). He has been awarded Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India, in 1997. He is the Vice President of Astronutical Society of India, Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers.
Dr Abdul Kalam has been a strong advocate of self-reliance in defence technology. A connoisseur pf classical Karnatak music, he plays veena in his leisure. He is well-versed and has written poetry in Tamil. Seventeen of his poems were translated into English and published in 1994 as a book titled My Journey. He is also the author of the two books, titled India 2020. A vision for the new Millennium, 1998; and Wings of Fire: An Autobiography, 1998.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was sworn in as the 11th President of India by Chief Justice of India on July 25, 2002 in the Central Hall of Parliament. He has replaced K.R. Narayanan, who completed a five-year term.