To honour and mark the importance of India’s 11th President APJ Abdul Kalam, in 2010 the United Nations declared his birthday on 15 October to be celebrated as World Students Day.
Before being fondly remembered as the “People’s President”, Kalam’s legacy will be fragmented without noting his role as a teacher. His endeavours were not just limited to teaching, but his contribution as scientist and science administrator in nations’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts were well recognised.
India’s Missile Man
With a background in aerospace engineering, Kalam came to be known as the ‘Missile Man of India’ for his work on Pokhran-II nuclear tests, a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India in 1998.
After graduating from MIT in 1958, he applied to fly fighter aircrafts for a young Indian Air Force. However, he missed the opportunity after securing the ninth spot on the list when there were openings for only eight posts.
On his love for teaching
In the President’s Address at the presentation of National Award to Teachers in 2006, Kalam had said, “Teachers have to realize that they are the builders of the society. The society can be built only when the students are made proficient in their subjects. In addition they have to provide a vision for life to the students and also inculcate the fundamentals of values which he should practice in the years to come.”
Owing to his compassion for students, several educational institutions observe Kalam’s birthday.