Dr A P J Abdul Kalam finds continuity in the work he is doing as President of India after a long career, spanning over over decades, as a space and defence scientist.
During his interaction with students at the Jubilee Hills Public School in Hyderabad on Friday morning, Dr Kalam was asked which part of his life would he consider more worthy to the nation — as a scientist or as the President of India.
Pat came the reply: “Before becoming the President of India, I was teaching at Anna University at Chennai. We evolved a roadmap how to transform India as a developed nation. It is technology-driven development. With this technology plan in view, I became the President of India.
“As a scientist, I was involved in the development of space launch vehicles, missiles and preparation of road maps for transforming India into a developed nation. Today, as President of India, I am marketing the concept so that our vision of developed India can be fulfilled. There is continuity in what I am doing.” he observed, referring to his long innings as a space scientist for 20 years and defence scientist for another 20.
To another query, from a sixth standard student, as to why he did not go into space when many other scientists went to space and took up research there, Dr Kalam said there were two kinds of people involved in space research. “It does not mean that every space scientist has to go to the Moon or Mars. Astronauts are trained to go into space. There are ground-based scientists who design the experiments. I was developing launch vehicles which can put satellites into space,” he said.
Reminiscing the launch of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV), Dr Kalam recalled, “at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, on July 18, 1980, I and my team launched SLV, India’s first launch vehicle that put the Rohini satellite into orbit.”
Again, as President, he was there at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on May 5 this year to witness the launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which put the twin satellites-CARTOST and HAMSAT-into orbit.
Dr Kalam also recalled the launching of the Geo-Synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) on September 20 last year. It was a huge three-stage controlled and guided rocket system weighing 400 tonnes. This world-class rocket system had put a communication satellite called EDUSAT (Education satellite) in the geo-synchronous orbit. Nowhere in the world an exclusive education satellite was in the orbit today, except India’s.
“Today, India has the capability of building any type of launch vehicle and type of spacecraft. This great scientific achievement has been made possible due to our great Indian space Scientists and partner institutions. We are witnessing how a space vision by Prof Vikram Sarabhai has been transformed into reality leading to benefit to society. Prof Vikram Sarabhai was indeed my role model when I started my professional career as rocket engineer.
“The country has now acquired capability to launch a lunar mission Chandrayan during 2007. When you grow up and you are in your 30s you might hear about manned mission to Mars,” he told the students.
By Syed Amin Jafri