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Ramya Ravi

The father of India's missile program conceived most of the research and development during his tenure at DRDL, Hyderabad.

He is soon going to be elected as the next President of India

Hyderabad: Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabhudin Adbul Kalam was born into a family of modest means in Rameshwaram, a small town in TamilNadu. It was his father who wanted him to take up science in the college. After graduating from St.Joseph College, Tiruchirapalli, he joined the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) to specialise in Aeronautical Engg. This was indeed his launching pad for this promising young man who was destined to become the father of Indian missile programme. After a brief stint in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), he joined the Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO) in 1963. While at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, he developed the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) which put the Rohini Satellite into orbit.

He later re-entered DRDO at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, as the director and this is where most of the research and development of his missile programmes were conceived and created.

He is one of those scientists who aims at putting technology created by him to multiple use. He used the light weight carbon-carbon material designed for Agni to make calipers for the polio affected. This carbon-carbon composite material reduced the weight of the calipers to 400 grams (from its original weight of 4kgs.) Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS, Hyderabad) was the birthplace for the defence technology spin offs from Kalam's labs via the DRDL (Defence Research and Development Laboratory), DMRL (Defence Metallurgical Research Lab) and the RCI (Research Centre Imarat).

Another important event that took place in Hyderabad is the development of the Cardiac stent. Cardiac stents are used during a Balloon Angioplasty. The clogged arteries are opened up using a balloon and stents are inserted to prevent the vessels from collapse.

As Project Director, SLV-3, he was responsible for carrying out design, development, qualification and flight testing of 44 major sub systems. In 1982, as Director, DRDO, was entrusted with the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. He conceived the programme constituting 5 major projects for meeting the requirements of the defence services and for establishing re-entry technology.

The development and successful flight test of Prithvi, Trishul, Akash, Nag, and Agni established the indigenous capability towards self reliance in defence preparedness. The successful launching of 'Agni' surface-to-surface missile is a unique achievement which made India a member of an exclusive club of highly developed countries. Thus, through SLV and Guided Missile Programme a solid foundation has been created in the indigenous testing and development of high technology Aerospace Projects.

An Advanced Technology Research Centre, called Research Centre Imarat has also been established by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as an extension of DRDL to undertake development in futuristic missile technology areas. He has also established a unique 3 tier management structure to integrate and commit technologists, academic institutions, Industries etc. As a crowing glory to all his achievements, he was appointed Scientific Advisor to Raksha Manthri and Secretary, Dept. of Defence Research and Development.

In his hour of glory, the missile man remembered his parents, co-workers especially at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and a Hyderabad-based defence research laboratory, besides teachers who collectively contributed in various ways towards this achievement.

He is a member of Indian National Academy of Sciences, Astronautical Society of India and many other professional bodies. He has published two books.

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