Former Indian president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was an inspirational figure who had made it a mission in life to ignite young minds and advocated an action plan to turn India into a "knowledge superpower." Born on October 15 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family of Rameshwaram, Kalam sold newspapers to supplement his family's income. But he was a bright and hardworking student with a desire to gain knowledge. He later went on to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology.
Kalam began his career with Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist. But he soon found himself working on India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) under the guidance of renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai. He later worked on the development of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Kalam was later appointed the chief executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), where he was instrumental in developing missiles like Agni and Prithvi.
He later was appointed as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the prime minister and the secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Kalam was honoured with the country's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna.
Kalam, famous as "Missile Man" and India's top nuclear scientist became the 11th president of India when the NDA government headed by Atal Behari Vajapayee came to power.
He used his office to address children and interact with them. He always asked children to dream big and those dreams might someday transform into reality. He also encouraged them to ask questions and write to him and his office would duly reply to most of the letters.
Post-presidency, Kalam became a visiting professor at IIM, Shillong, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Indore and IISC, Bangalore.
Kalam died of cardic arrest when he was delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong on July 27 2015.
Meanwhile, India has started the construction work at his memorial, coinciding with his 85th birth anniversary. A team from the DRDO held discussions with local officials regarding the memorial and an amount of Rs 50 crore had been allocated for it and a knowledge centre.
Some quotes by India's "Missile Man:"
"Dream, Dream Dream, Dreams transform into thoughts. And thoughts result in action."
"You have to dream before your dreams can come true."
"We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us."
Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.
"Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended."
"Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough."
"All Birds find shelter during a rain. But Eagle avoids rain by flying above the Clouds."
"All of us do not have equal talent. But , all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents."
"End is not the end, if fact E.N.D. means 'Effort Never Dies.'"
"For me, there are two types of people: the young and the experienced."