Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, a former President of India’s autobiography- ‘Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam’ is a must-read for every Indian. I picked up this copy and found it very engaging. Kalam scrutinises his early life, effort, hardship, fortitude, luck and chance that eventually led him to lead Indian space research, nuclear and missile programs. He began his career, soon after his graduation from Aerospace engineering at MIT (Chennai), India at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited where he was assigned to build a prototype of a hovercraft. Later, when he was in ISRO, he assisted in developing Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre which became the first space launch vehicle program.

Wings of Fire’ has been divided into 7 sections Preface, Acknowledgements, Introduction, Orientation, Creation, Propitiation, Contemplation and Epilogue. The ‘Creation’ section traverses through Kalam’s life and works from 1963 to 1980. Thumba and Satellite Launch Vehicle and related projects have been covered here. He was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1981.

The ‘Propitation’ section covers years from 1981 to 1991 scientist’s journey. He assisted in shaping up the Guided Missile Development Program. The missiles developed are – Prithvi, Trishul, Akash, Nag and Agni.

Kalam is also poet and here is an example

“Do not look at Agni

As an entity directed upward

To deter the ominous

Or exhibit your might.

It is fire in the heart of an Indian.

Do not even give it

The form of a missile

As it clings to the

Burning pride of this nation

And thus is bright.”

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam rose from humble origins and went on to become the President of India. As a President of India, he utilized every opportunity to address students mainly school students to dream big and become achievers in life. His contribution as a scientist and as President will remain unparalleled and he shall continue to inspire us.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

The ‘missile man’ who was also a former President of India is no longer in this world. Dr. Kalam suffered a massive cardiac arrest during the lecture at IIM, Shillong. He was rushed to the hospital but could not be revived by the medical team. The nation mourns the loss of this great scientist and an inspiring individual. I would like to conclude with a few quotes from this great scientist

“Dream, Dream, Dream

Dream transforms into thoughts

And thoughts results in action.”

This is my belief; that through difficulties and problems God gives us the opportunity to grow. So when your hopes and dreams are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins.

Truly, a ‘People’s President’ who shall always be remembered.