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  1. 1. Page 1 of 18 WINGS OF FIREUnit 1(chapters 1 to 4)Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam ,usually known as Dr A P J Abdul Kalam was the eleventh presidentof India.He was popularly known as people‘s President. He was a nuclear scientist by profession and wasregarded the father of Indian missile development. His name is associated with the development of India‘sfirst satellite launch vehicle SLV-3 and Agni missile. He is a voracious reader, writes poetry and plays rudraveena. He has received many honorary doctorates and was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1981, PadmaVibhushan in 1990 and Bharat Ratna in 1997.Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, India2020, A vision for themillennium were some of his works. Wings of Fire is his autobiography .He gives his triumphs andtribulations and pays glowing tribute to his colleagues, friends and everyone who helped in realizing thecollective dreams .He says that everyone is born with a divine fire in oneself and one should give wings tothis fire.CHILDHOODKalam was born on 15 october 1931 into a middle class Tamil family,in the island town of Rameswaram.His was a very secured childhood both materially and emotionally. His father Jainulabdeen and motherAshiamma were an ideal couple. They were very generous and Kalam learnt from them- honesty, kindness,discipline and a deep rooted faith in God. Jainulabdeen was neither highly educated nor very rich. He was aman of principles and avoided comforts and luxuries but essential needs were well provided for. They livedin their ancestral house situated in the Rameswaram‘s mosque street. The famous Shiva temple was about aten minute walk from their house. It being a place of two shrines being side by side, people of both religionslived amicably as neighbours. The stories from Ramayana and Mohammad Prophet‘s life formed Kalam‘sbedtime stories. He was brought up imbibing both the cultures.EARLY INFLUENCES:-JAINULABDEEN:-Jainulabdeen observed daily namaaz and would help the people by giving themthe sacred water. But he was so humble and said that he was only a channel or a helper. He asked people tothank Allah for his mercy and generosity.He was able to explain complicated spiritual concepts in simpleTamil.He used to say that one moves beyond his body when he prays and that troublesand adversity come to teach people. He said that fear prevents one‘s hopes from beingfulfilled. He also said that people in distress need consolation. Praying to solve problems is a wrongapproach, he says. One should pray for self reliance and happiness comes from within and not from externalsources.Kalam was greatly influenced by his father‘s philosophy. He saw his father puthis philosophy into practice. Jainulabdeen started a brisk business of ferrying pilgrims from Rameswaram toDhanushkodi and back. A severe cyclone struck the Rameswaram coast and the boat was wrecked in thestrong winds. Jainulabdeen bore the loss in calmness. He was more concerned about a greater tragedy –atrain full of passengers had flushed away when the Pamban Bridge had collapsed. Kalam says that he learntboth from his father‘s attitude and the actual disaster, how to cope up with difficulties in life. When Kalamseeked his father‘s permission to go for higher studies, Jainulabdeen permitted him telling that neither theirlove nor their needs would bind him.AHMED JALLALUDDIN:Jallaluddin was Kalam‘s relative. He helped Jainulabdeen in building the boat. Hewas 15 years older than Kalam and used to call him Azad. He later married Kalam‘s sister Zohara.He hadnot much schooling as his family couldn‘t afford it.He always encouraged Kalam to excel and seemed to geta great deal of satisfaction from Kalam‘s academic success. Jallaluddin was the only person on the islandwho could write in English.He wrote letters for everyone who needed and no other person could match himin his knowledge and awareness of the outside world. Jallaluddin was a major influence on Kalam‘s life
  2. 2. Page 2 of 18that stage.He talked to Kalam on many things –spiritual concepts,scientific discoveries,contemporary writingand literature,strides made by medical science etc.It was he who helped Kalam look beyond the limitedhorizons of his life.Jallaluddin used to communicate with God as if God werelistening to him.Later,he used to tell Kalam the incidents in World War 2 and Kalam would try to trace themin the news paper.He travelled with Kalam to enrol him in Schwartz High School and to arrange for hisboarding there.He spoke to Kalam about the power of positive thinking when Kalam didn‘t take to the newsetting.He said to the author to strive to control his thoughts and through these to influence his destiny.SAMSUDDINSamsuddin was Kalam‘s cousin who helped in shaping his boyhood.He was theonly distributor for the news paper Dinamani.Kalam used to look at the pictures in the papers beforeSamsuddin delivered them.At the time of second World War,the train halt at Rameswaram was suspendedand the bundles of news paper were tossed out of the moving train,onto the road between Rameswaram andDhanushkodi.Samsuddin needed a helping hand and he chose Kalam for it.Thus Samsuddin gave theopportunity to earn and Kalam says that he could feel the thrill and pride of his first earnings even aftermany years.Kalam says that he was benifitted from his interaction with Jallaluddin and Samsuddin,whosewisdom was based on intuition rather than instruction.He admits that whatever creativity he has displayed inhis later life was inspired by their presence in his childhood. He also says that he had acquired a practicalbent of mind because of these two friends.THE SECOND WORLD WARKalam was 8 years old at the time of second world war.He says that the warinfluenced him indirectly by providing him with his earnings.there was a great demand for tamarind seedsthen.Kalam used to collect and sell them which would fetch him the then princely amount of one anna.Thewar came to an end and the whole country was filled with an optimism.The optimism affected Kalam and heseeked his father‘s permission to go Ramanathapuram to study.PAKSHI LAKSHMANA SASTRYHe was the high priest of the Shiva temple in Rameswaram.He was also aclose friend of his father‘s.The two people used to discuss spiritual matters .They had similar thoughtsregarding spirituality despite of the differences in their traditions,mode of worship and dressing.RamanathaSastry,the son of Lakshmana Sastry was a good friend of Kalam.When Kalam was in 5th standard,a newteacher had come and he was unable to tolerate a muslim boy sitting beside a brahmin.He asked Kalam to goback and sit there.When Lakshmana Sastry came to know this,he summoned the teacher and asked him notto spread the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance in the minds of innocent children.Kalamremembers Lakshmana Sastry‘s words in many situations.SIVASUBRAMANIA IYERHe was Kalam‘s science teacher at Rameswaram.He was an orthodox brahminin his upbringing but was a rebel at heart.He encouraged Kalam to develop his skills so that he couldcompete with the highly educated people in big cities. He also invited Kalam home for a meal.He servedKalam himself, as his wife refused to do so and by the next time,he was able to convince his wife that thereis nothing wrong in it. Sivasubramanya Iyer was able to break some social barriers that prevailed in theirsmall town. He rooted the idea of higher studies in Kalam‘s mind.STR MANICKAMHe was a militant nationalist who had a huge personal library.He encouragedKalam to read more and more.Kalam acquired a growing love for reading and this habit has continued allthrough his life.IYADURAI SOLOMONHe was author‘s teacher at Schwartz High School.He was warm and openminded and made his students feel comfortable in class.He was an ideal guide and a great teacher whoinstilled in children a sense of their own worth.He has been Kalam‘s mentor and raised his
  3. 3. Page 3 of 18said,`With faith,you can change your destiny.` He taught Kalam that one should desire intensely in order tomake anythinghappen.Not only that,one should be completely certain that it would happen.Kalam came to know that thiskind of firm belief is not only a strong motivating force,but it also does things happen.Iyadurai Solomonconvinced Kalam that he too could aspire to become whatever he wished.It‘s because of the confidence heraised ,Kalam has decided to go for further studies.Iyadurai Solomon has been Kalam‘s ideal guide andmentor.EDUCATION AT ST.JOSEPH’S COLLEGEKalam arrived at St.Joseph‘s College in1950,to study for the intermediateexamination.He stayed on the campus for 4 years and had a wonderful time with his two room mates,onebeing a brahmin and the other a christian.He acquired a taste for English literature and developed a keeninterest in physics.He joined the B.Sc. course as he had no knowledge of other courses.He came to know thatPhysics,though fascinating, was not his subject and that he should take up Engineering to realise his dreamsand that he should have done that straight after the Intermediate exam.He applied for admission at theMadras Institute of Technology(MIT).Kalam managed to get on the list but the fact was that he couldn‘t meet theexpenditure.Zohara,Kalam‘s sister,mortgaged her chain and bangles to help him out.Kalam promisedhimself that he would redeem them with his own earnings.THE THREE TEACHERS AT MITKalam‘s curiosity was aroused by two decommissioned aircrafts which were puton display to demonstrate the various subsystems of flying machines.He felt a strangeattraction towards them and used to spend a lot of time sitting there.He chose Aeronautical Engineering inhis 2nd year.He had a clear goal now that he‘s going to fly aircraft. Kalam says that three teachers shaped histhinking and their instructionsformed the foundation on which he later built his professional career. They were professorsSponder,KAVPandalai and Narasingha Rao.They were distinct personalities,different in many ways butsharing a common quality-the capacity of feeding their students‘ intellectual hunger with brilliance anduntiring zeal.Prof.Sponder taught technical aerodynamics.He was an Austrian who hatedGermans but worked with them despite it.He was always calm,energetic and in control of himself.He kepthimself updated of the latest technologies and wanted his students to do the same.Kalam consulted him firstwhen he thought of opting for Aeronautical Engineering.Prof.Sponder observed that the real trouble withmany students was not lack of educational opportunities.The trouble was in their failure to choose their fieldof study with sufficient care. He told the author that one should never worry about one‘s foundations.He alsosaid that one should have a natural ability and passion for one‘s chosen field.Kalam had the most cherishedmemory from college,related to Prof.Sponder.He asked Kalam to sit beside him for the class photographtelling that Kalam was his best student and he also said that he would heap honour on his teachers.Prof.Pandalai taught aero-structure design and analysis.He was a friendlyand enthusiastic teacher,whose approach was fresh.Kalam says that he unlocked the secrets of structuralengineering to them.He was a man of great intellectual integrity and learning with no signs of arrogance.Hisstudents were free to disagree with him in classroom discussions.Prof.Narasingha Rao was a mathematician .He taught theoreticalaerodynamics.His teaching made the author prefer mathematical physics to any othersubject.He advised the author on how to prove equations in aerodynamics and thus helped him in acquiringthe skill. Kalam says that an amalgamation of information took place in his mind and he says that heacquired this composite knowledge because of these three lecturers.FINAL YEAR AT MITIt was a year of transition.Kalam was assigned a project to design a low levelattack aircraft along with four other students.He was put in charge of drawing
  4. 4. Page 4 of 18aerodynamic design.Prof.Srinivasan,the then director of MIT declared the workdisappointing.He ordered Kalam to complete it within three days.He also warned that his scholarship wouldbe cancelled if he wouldn‘t submit it in time.Kalam was dumbstruck at this situation as the scholarship washis lifeline.He strove hard putting all his efforts .When he was about to complete the task,Prof.Srinivasandropped in to see the progress.The work was appreciated by the professor. Kalam also enjoyed extra-curricular work. He won an essay writingcompetition. The article he wrote was,`Let us make our own aircraft`.PREPARING TO START A CAREERKalam went as a trainee to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) at Bangalore.The theory he learnt inclassroom was practically applied.He found the technicians working ,on the basis of their experience. He gottwo different job opportunities,both close to his long-standing dream of flying.One was a career in the IndianAir Force(IAF),and the other,at the Directorate of Technical Development and Production(DTD&P),of theMinistry of Defence.Kalam started his first long journey to Delhi and Dehradun to attend the interviews. Thequestions at the DTD&P(Air) were routine and didn‘t challenge his knowledge of subject.He was confidentthat he had done well.Then he proceeded to Dehradun for his interview at the Air Force selectionBoard.There, the emphasis was on personality,physical fitness and ability to speak well.Kalam was verymuch excited,confident and determined.But at the same time,he was so nervous,anxious and tense.He wasdisappointed as he was not selected.It took some time for Kalam to understand that he missed the chance.Hehad to overcome his disappointment somehow.He decided to go on a journey to soothe his mind.He went toRishikesh which seemed to be an ideal place with its peacefulatmosphere. Kalam met Swami Sivananda in his Ashram and told him of hisunsuccessful attempt to join the IAF and his long-cherished desire to fly. He comforted Kalam with hispowerful words to accept his destiny.He cosoled him telling that he might not be destined to become apilot.He said that one‘s destiny is pre-determined .He asked Kalam to forget the failure and think of it as astep that leads to his path. Kalam reminded his father‘s words that learning to cope with setbacks andfailures is a part of life. He returned to Delhi and enquired about the outcome of his interview.He washanded the appointment letter and he joined the next day at DTD&P(Air) as senior scientific assistant on thebasic salary of Rs.250 per month. Kalam no more did feel depressed or unhappy at his failure to enter theIAF.He also realized that although he was not flying the aeroplanes,he was helping to make them airworthy.Wings of fireUNIT 2 (Chapters 5 to 8)Kalam was posted at the Technical Centre .He carried out a design assignment onsupersonic target aircraft and the work was praised by the director .He was sent to theAircraft and Armament Testing Unit (A&ATU) at Kanpur .On his return to Delhi, Kalam was given a newtarget which was carried out successfully .He later carried out the design and development of a vertical take-off and landing system. Three years passed and Kalam was posted to the Aeronautical DevelopmentEstablishment (ADE), which was just born in Bangalore.THE NANDI PROJECTKalam & his team were given three years to design and develop an indigenoushovercraft prototype, a Ground Equipment Machine (GEM).The project was bigger than their capabilities.None of them were experienced .No designs or standard parts were available. There was not much materialavailable to read .There were no experienced people to consult. Kalam decided to go ahead with the limitedinformation and resources available. They moved to the actual model after spending a few months on thedrawing board. Things started moving slowly and there seemed some progress. VK Krishna Menon, the thenDefence minister of India, was keenly interested in the progress of their small project. He felt that it was astepping stone to India producing defence equipment within the country. His confidence set the tone for theirenthusiasm. But Kalam had a bitter experience from his senior colleagues. They were not satisfied with theexperiments done with the limited parts. Kalam and his team were called a group of odd inventors trying
  5. 5. Page 5 of 18do something beyond the reality. They thought that it was an impossible dream. But, this type of opinion onthem fired the ever-optimistic minds of Kalam and his team. The Defence minister used to make someroutine visits and find out the progress. The hovercraft was named Nandi. The hovercraft, in its form andfinish went beyond their expectations. Later, the Defence minister took a ride in it putting aside all the safetyinstructions. Kalam was confident enough that he would be able to fly the machine he had created and sodisregarded the silent order of the group captain. It was a smooth ride and the minister was so pleased. Hesaid to Kalam that the basic problems were now solved and that he should develop a more powerful primemover in which he would take a second ride. The project was successfully completed .The director of ADE,Dr. OP Mediratta was very much pleased with the achievement of creating a successful working hovercraft.Unfortunately, by that time, Krishna Menon was out of office and in the new government, not many peopleshared his dream. The project had to face many controversies and unpleasant situations and it was finallyshelved. Kalam feels bad that we still import the hovercrafts, depending on outside technology. The setbackin this Nandi project was a new experience for him. He put his heart and soul in it and so was not able tobear that it could not be used practically. He was disappointed and disillusioned. He was so depressed that hestarted to think that there is a limit to everything and one cannot go beyond it. In this period of uncertaintyand confusion,he recollected the words of Lakshmana Sastry, ―Seek the truth and the truth shall set you free.‖ One day Dr.Mediratta inquired Kalam about the state of the hovercraft andasked him to demonstrate it for an important guest, the next day. The visitor was a tall, handsome, beardedman who asked Kalam several questions and asked him to give a ride in the machine. He was none otherthan Prof.MGK Menon, director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).INTERVIEW AT INCOSPARKalam received a call from the INdian COmmittee for SPAce Research(INCOSPAR).INCOSPAR was formed out of TIFR to organize space research in India. Kalam went toBombay to attend the interview. He reminded himself that the best way to win was to not feel that desperateneed to win. He decided to take things as they came. He felt that he could perform well if he were relaxedand free from doubt.Kalam was interviewed by Prof.Sarabhai along with Prof.Menon and Mr.Saraf.Kalam says that he had sensed their warmth and friendliness as he entered the room. He says that none ofthem were arrogant and proud. They didn‘t show any superiority feeling which many interviewers exhibit.Kalam was immediately struck by Prof.Sarabhai. He questioned Kalam in such a manner that it was anexploration of the inner capabilities and possibilities of Kalam. The entire encounter seemed to be a totalmoment of truth to Kalam. He also felt that his dream would be fulfilled as it seemed to be a part of theirbigger dream. Kalam was absorbed as a rocket engineer at INCOSPAR. It was a turning point in Kalam‘slife.WORK AND ATMOSPHERE AT INCOSPARKalam felt the atmosphere at INCOSPAR to be entirely different from that atDTD&P (Air).No one bothered about their designations and cadres. There was no need to give explanations.No one showed their authority or aggressive feelings. A friendly atmosphere prevailed there.THUMBA EQUATORIAL ROCKET LAUNCHING STATION(TERLS)INCOSPAR took the decision of setting up its Equatorial Rocket Launching Station atThumba, a sleepy fishing village near Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) in Kerala. It was chosen to be thesuitable location by Dr. Chitnis as it was very close to the earth‘s magnetic equator. This was the beginningof modern rocket-based research in India.The site selected measured about 600 acres and there stood a large church withinthe area. The then collector K Madhavan Nair had successfully carried on the task ofacquiring the land with the co-operation of the bishop Right Rev. Dr. Dereria. Soon, the executive engineerof the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), RD John had transformed the entire area. Thus, the St.Mary Magdalene church housed the first office of the Thumba Space Centre. The prayer room was Kalam‘sfirst laboratory and the bishop‘s room was his design and drawing office. Kalam was asked to attend a
  6. 6. Page 6 of 18month training programme on sounding rocket launching techniques at the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration (NASA) work centres in the USA. He took some time off to visit Rameswaram before hisjourney. Jainulabdeen was very pleased to hear the news and organized a special namaaz. Jallaluddin andSamsuddin went to Bombay to bid good-bye to Kalam. When Jallaluddin said that they had faith andconfidence in him and his capabilities, Kalam was unable to control his tears.WORK AT NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)Kalam joined work at NASA‘s research centre in Virginia. From there, he went toMaryland, to the Goddard Space Flight Centre. He was impressed by the organizational structure of thoseinstitutions in the US. They were experienced people and they were not suffering from false pride. Kalamsays that false pride was a big barrier to effective growth in several Indian institutions. He says that thispride was widespread in many organizations. It stops managers from listening to their subordinates. Kalamalways thought that one can never be creative and give good results if he is disrespected and humiliated.Kalam says that a fine line is to be drawn between firmness and harshness, strongleadership and bullying, discipline and vindictiveness. He suggests us not to put off things and asks us tolearn to solve the problems. It helps us in distinguishing between success and failure and also makes usdepend on our inborn courage and wisdom.THE SPECIAL PAINTING AT NASA CENTERKalam went to the east coast of Virginia towards the end of his visit. Thesounding rocket programme undertaken by NASA was situated there. In the reception lobby, a painting wasdisplayed which didn‘t drag Kalam‘s attention at first. He felt that it was a normal painting. It depicted abattle scene, with a few rockets flying in the background. The soldiers launching the rockets seemed to besouth Indians.A few days later, Kalam examined the painting very closely and he came to knowthat it was the army of Tipu Sultan fighting the British East India Company. He felt that it was an honourgiven to the foresight of an Indian ruler but felt unhappy that the fact was not known in our country. TipuSultan was the first Indian ruler who had used the rockets in the 18th century. The British forces capturedmore than 700 rockets and the subsystems of 900 rockets when Tipu Sultan was killed. These rockets weretaken to England and were subjected by the British, which we call ‗reverse engineering‘ today. Indianrocketry came to a stand still with the death of Tipu and was revived 150 years later in an independent India.THE LAUNCH OF NIKE-APACHEIndia‘s first rocket launch took place on 21 November 1963, soon after Kalamhad returned from NASA.It was a sounding rocket called NIKE-APACHE. It had been made at NASA andwas assembled in the church building at Thumba. The launch of this rocket was with a few tense moments.The only equipment available to transport the rocket to the launch pad was a truck and a manually operatedhydraulic crane. There was a leak in the hydraulic system which was managed by the collective musclepower of Kalam and his team. The two persons that had played an active and crucial role in theNIKEAPACHE launch were D Eswaradas and R Arvamudan. Eswaradas undertook the rocket assembly andarranged the launch. Arvamudan was in charge of radar, telemetry and ground support. Kalam was in chargeof rocket integration and safety. The launch was smooth and problem-free and they obtained excellent flightidea. They felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.THE ROHINI SOUNDING ROCKET (RSR) PROGRAMMEThe Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station was further developed, inactive collaboration with France, the USA and the USSR. The real journey of the Indian space programmebegan with the Rohini soundingrocket (RSR) programme. Under the RSR programme, a family of operational sounding rockets wasdeveloped. Several rockets have been launched for various scientific and technological studies. Thedevelopment of these rockets made India capable of producing fully indigenous sounding rockets as well astheir high performance solid propellants. This development of Indian rocketry in the 20th century can be seenas the revival of the 18th century vision of Tipu. Rocket technology had made great strides
  7. 7. Page 7 of 18Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in Russia (1903), Robert Goddard in USA(1914) and Herman Oberth inGermany(1923) gave new dimensions to rocketry. During World War 2, Wernher von Braun‘s team in NaziGermany produced the effective v-2 short-range ballistic missile. After the war, both theUSA and the USSR captured their share of German rocket engineers which lead to the deadly Arms Racethat lasted for decades. Rocketry was reborn in India as a result of the technological vision of Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru. Prof. Vikram Sarabhai took on the challenge of giving physical dimensions to Nehru‘sdream. Their vision was very clear….India must be second to none in the application of advancedtechnologies.THE SITUATION AT INCOSPAR IN THE EARLY SIXTIESKalam shares with us the situation at INCOSPAR in the early sixties. They were a group of young andinexperienced persons who were very active energetic andenthusiastic. They were given the task of shaping the Indian spirit of self-reliance in the field of science andtechnology. The particular task was to shape the Indian spirit of space research. Their biggest qualificationsat INCOSPAR were not their degrees and training but Prof. Sarabhai‘s faith in their capabilities.PROF. VIKRAM SARABHAIVikram Srabhai was born into an affluent family of industrialists in Ahmedabad. As a research scholar, heworked under Sir C V Raman at the Indian Institute of Science. He was the main person in setting up thePhysical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, in 1947. He set up India‘s first rocket launching station(TERLS) at Thumba. He believed in the practical application of science and its benefits for the commonman. He initiated India‘s space programme when he undertook the launch of an indigenously built Indiansatellite. TERLS was renamed the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre after his death.KALAM’S FIRST MEET WITH PROF.SARABHAIKalam first met Prof. Sarabhai, when he attended the interview at INCOSPAR. He was very much impressedby Sarabhai‘s friendly behavior and attitude. Sarabhaiposed the questions to know the capabilities of Kalam and his ability to work for a longer time goals. At thatmoment, Kalam decided to follow the foot-steps of Sarabhai in his future endeavors.1. AN INNOVATORKalam says that prof. Sarabhai was an innovator.He was keen on trying newideas and he liked the young people to do the same. At that time it was not all that easy to provide latestresearch facilities to the scientists. India had neither the infrastructure nor the money to use sophisticatedtechnology in space research. So, Prof. Sarabhai wanted to compensate this by recruiting young people todevelop space programme. He believed that young scientists would bring novel ideas with them which areimportant for new development in scientific research. He has the wisdom and judgment to realize not only ifsomething was well done, but also when it was time to stop.2. A MAN OF OPTIMISMProf.Sarabhai‘s was very optimistic and he spreads this optimism to all. The news of his coming to Thumbawould electrify the people and all the laboratories, workshops and design offices would be on continuouswork. People would work round the clock to show something new to Prof. Sarabhai.3. AN EFFECTIVE LEADERHe believed in an open and free exchange of views. He knew that the goal should beclear to the team members also. He felt that effective leadership was impossible without collectiveunderstanding of a problem. He once told Kalam that his job was to make decisions but it was equallyimportant to see that those decisions were accepted by his team members.4. A GOOD DECISION-MAKERProf. Sarabhai took a series of decisions that have given life to many scientists inIndia. He wanted to create new frontiers in the field of science and technology in India. He shared his dreamof an Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) after the successful launch of Nike-Apache. His decision tomake our own SLVs and our own satellites –that too simultaneously, in a multi-dimensional fashion
  8. 8. Page 8 of 18remarkable. He discussed the matter with the scientists in different organizations at different locations. Themost significant achievement was to establish and maintain nationwide trust in the plan. He also had a planto develop a RATO system for military aircraft.5. A MAN OF BRILLIANCEProf. Sarabhai was a man of high intelligence. He utilized each person‘s knowledge and skills. He used tomake every member get involved in the work. If he found any one of the members with excessive work, heused to reduce the pressure on them. If any one was without required skill or capability, he used to help themto perform better. He very well knows how to bring out the inner capabilities of his people. He recognisedthat Kalam had the quality of getting the work done not by using the authority but by persuading people todo it. That‘s why he assigned Kalam the task of providing interface support to payload scientists.6. A SUCCESSFUL PERSONProf. Sarabhai was an unorthodox person in his approach. He always used to getunusual thoughts. He also emitted sudden flashes of inspiration. He was able to run the country‘s spaceresearch establishment…under-staffed and over-worked…but in a successful manner.7. A WODERFUL ADMINISTRATORProf. Sarabhai had the great ability of coordinating the work of various organizations for achieving a goal.He was a wonderful administrator who selected the right man at the right place in India‘s space programme.He reposed faith in the capabilities of the staff. All his plans laid emphasis on self-reliance and indigenoustechnology.KHALIL GIBRANKalam often read Khalil Gibran. He always found his words full of wisdom. ―Bread baked without love is abitter bread, that feeds but half a man‘s hunger.‖ Those who cannot work with their hearts achieve a hollow,half-hearted success that only breeds bitterness within. If a writer secretly prefers to be a lawyer or a doctor,his written words will feed only half the hunger of his readers. If a teacher isinterested in working a business, his teaching will meet only half the need for knowledge of his students. Ifa scientist hates science, his performance will satisfy only half the needs of his mission.PROF.ODAKalam had worked with several people who work dedicatedly. He gives here anincident that shows Prof. Oda‘s dedication towards work. Kalam had to interact withscientists from TIFR, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the Physical ResearchLaboratory (PRL) and with the payload scientists from the USA, the USSR, France, West Germany andJapan. There are different types of pay loads – x-ray payloads to look at the stars; payloads to analyse the gascomposition of the upper atmosphere; sodium payloads to find out wind conditions, its direction andvelocity; and ionospheric payloads to explore the different layers of the atmosphere. Prof. Oda was an x-raypayload scientist from the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Sciences (ISAS), Japan. Kalam describes himas a tiny man with towering personality and radiant eyes. He insisted on using the timers he had broughtfrom Japan. He stuck on to his stand that the Indian timers must be replaced by the Japanese ones. Kalamyielded to his suggestion and replaced the timers even though he felt them to be flimsy. The rocket took offelegantly but the telemetry signal reported mission failure on account of timer malfunction. Prof. Oda was soupset that tears welled up in his eyes. Kalam was stunned by the intensity of his response.ROHINI AND MENAKAKalam was also involved with building subsystems like payload housing andjettisonable nose cones. Two Indian rockets Rohini and Menaka were born at Thumba. It was a hugeachievement that the Indian payloads no longer needed to be launched by French rockets. The first Rohini-75 rocket was launched from TERLS on 20 November 1967.V S NARAYANANOnce, Prof. Sarabhai asked Kalam to meet him at 3.30 a.m. in Delhi. At that time,Kalam happened to go through a book in which George Bernard shaw said that the world gets progressbecause of a few men who try to adapt the world to themselves. It was also said that a project managershould learn to live with uncertainty and ambiguity. Kalam was introduced to VS Narayanan by
  9. 9. Page 9 of 18Sarabhai. Narayanan was group captain from the IAF. Prof. Sarabhai unfolded his plan of developing arocket-assisted takeoff system (RATO) for military aircraft. That would help our fighter planes to take offfrom the short runways in the Himalaya. They went to the Tilpat range, on the outskirts of New Delhi. TheIAF was in dire need of a large number of RATO motors for their S-22 and HF- 24 aircraft. Narayanan wasa great admirer of the strong approach of the Russian missile development programme. He also hadtremendous enthusiasm for indigenous guided missiles. Narayanan obtained 75 lakhs as funding for theRATO task. He used to say that hewill provide whatever needed but not any extra time.THE TWO SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTSTwo significant developments occurred during the subsequent work on RATOmotors. The first was the release of a ten-year profile for space research in the country, prepared by Prof.Sarabhai. It was a theme meant for open discussions. It‘s based on early ideas born at INCOSPAR. Itincluded the utilization of satellites for television and developmental education; and meteorologicalobservations and remote sensing for the management of natural resources. To this was added development and launch of Satellite Launch Vehicles for low earth orbit and The upgrading and improvement of Indian satellites. TheToday, we in India take most of these developments, which is testimony to the visionary qualities of Prof.Sarabhai. The active international aid was stopped in the new plan and the emphasis (importance) was laidon self-reliance and indigenous technologies. The second development was the formation of a Missilepanel in the Ministry of Defence. Narayanan and Kalam were inducted as members. The idea of makingmissiles in India was exciting to them and they spent hours studying the missiles made in varioustechnologically advanced countries. Kalam distinguishes a sounding rocket from a satellite launching vehicleand these from a missile.Sounding rockets are normally used to probe the near-earth environment, including the upper regions ofthe atmosphere. They can carry a variety of scientific payloads to a range of altitudes but they cannot impartthe final velocity needed to orbit the payload.A launch vehicle is designed to inject a technological payload, or satellite, into the orbit. The final stage ofa launch vehicle provides the necessary velocity for a satellite to enter its orbit.This is a complex operation requiring on-board guidance and control systems.A missile is a more complex system. In addition to the large terminal velocity and on-board guidance andcontrol systems, it must have the capability to home onto its target. When its target is fast-moving andcapable of changing its direction, a missile should also be able to carry out target-tracking functions.JAYA CHANDRA BABUIndia was left with no choice in the matter of achieving self-reliance in militaryhardware and weapon system after the two wars with china and Pakistan. A large number of surface-to-airmissiles were obtained from the USSR. Nothing indigenous was available. A long list of equipment to beimported was prepared. But Kalam was unhappy because a poor country like India couldnot afford it. Thenhe happened to discuss this issue with his young colleague Jaya Chandra Babu. The next day, Babusuggested a few relaxations such as financial approval by a single person travel for all people on work air lifting of goods by air-cargo sub-contracting to the private sector placement of orders on the basis of technical competence and smooth and quick accounting procedure.Babu said that those would streamline their working and the RATO system can be made without importingequipment. Those demands were presented to Prof. Sarabhai after weighing all the pros and cons (all thearguments for and against). He approved the proposals without a second thought, convinced of its merits.Thus, Babu had highlighted the importance of clever business practices indevelopmental work. Kalam says that he could never forget Babu‘s common sense infinancial
  10. 10. Page 10 of 18ENGLISH—UNIT 3&4WINGS OF FIRE (CH.9 TO 16)THE EVENT THAT BROUGHT GREAT SATISFACTION TO KALAM AND HIS TEAM IN 1969India was dreaming of making its own satellites. In February 1969, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visitedThumba to dedicate Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) to the International SpaceScience Community. On this occasion, she commissioned the country‘s first filament winding machineinitiating the work at the launch station. This event brought great satisfaction to Abdul Kalam and his teamconsisting of CR Satya, PN Subramanian and MN Satyanarayana.SELECTION OF SRIHARIKOTA ISLANDIn 1969 Prof. Sarabhai decided to build and launch our own satellites. He made an aerial survey of the eastcoast to find a suitable site for the rocket launching station. He was particular about choosing a site on theeast coast. This would enable the launch vehicle to take full advantage of the earth‘s west to east rotation.Thus he selected Sriharikota island, a hundred kilometres north of Chennai. The SHAR Rocket LaunchStation was thus born. The island was crescent shaped with a width of 8 kilometres. It lies alongside thecoastline. Sriharikota is as big as Chennai in area.THE DEVELOPMENTS THAT HAPPENED DURING THE YEAR 1968 Indian Rocket Society was formed. TheINCOSPAR was reconstituted as an advisory body under the INSA(Indian National Science Academy)ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) was created under the DAE (Department of Atomic Energy)to conduct space research in the country.PROF. SARABHAI’S DREAM PROJECTDuring 1968, Prof. Sarabhai formed a team to give shape to his dream of an Indian SLV. He called it SLV-3.Abdul Kalam was chosen to be a project leader. He was also given the additional responsibility of designingthe fourth stage of SLV-3. The task of designing the other three stages of SLV-3 was given to Dr. VRGowarikar, MR Kurup and AE Muthunayagam.KALAM AS A PROJECT MANAGERKalam faced urgent and conflicting demands on his time after taking up the leadership of executing theSLV-3 project. He had to attend to committee work, material procurement, correspondence, reviews,briefings and the need to be informed on a wide range of subjects. He used to prepare a general schedule andemphasise two or three things he would like to complete on each day. Once in the office, he would clear thetable first. Then within the next ten minutes he would examine all the papers and divide them into differentcategories, namely, high priority, low priority, can be kept pending and reading material. Then he would putthe high priority papers before him and keep all papers out of sight.COMPONENTS REQUIRED TO BUILD SLV-3To build SLV-3 as many as 250 sub-assemblies and 44 major subsystems were identified during the design.The actual list of materials went up to more than one million components. It was a complex programme. Itneeds a project implementation, strategy. It was estimated that seven to ten years were requiredto build SLV-3.PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE PRODUCTION OF HARDWARE FOR SLV-3Prof. Sarabhai hand-picked a team to give a form to his dream of an Indian SLV, known as SLV-3. AbdulKalam was the project leader. He was given the additional responsibility of designing the fourth stage ofSLV-3. Dr. V.R.Gowarikar, MR Kurup and AE Muthunayagan were given the tasks of designing the otherthree stages. UR Rao and G Madhvan Nair were given the responsibility for developing atelecommand system for SLV-3.Gradually hardware began to emerge from the drawing boards. Each member of Kalam‘s team had a uniquecontribution to make. Sasi Kumar built a very effective network of fabrication work centers. Namboodri andPillai spent their days and nights developing four rocket motors simultaneously. MSR Dev and Sandlas drewup meticulous plans for mechanical and electrical integration of the vehicle.
  11. 11. Page 11 of 18Nair and Murthy examined the electronic systems and engineered them into sub-systems wherever it waspossible. US Singh brought up the first launch ground system. He also chalked out a detailed work plan forthe flight trials. Dr. Sundararajan closely monitored mission objectives and updated the systems.PROF. SARABHAI’S APPROACH TO MISTAKESProf. Sarabhai believed that mistakes are inevitable but generally manageable. He was a visionary who usederrors to encourage new ideas. Kalam later came to know that the best way to prevent errors is to anticipatethem. But, the failure of the timer circuit led to the birth of a rocket engineering laboratory.PROF. SARABHAI’S DEATHProf. Sarabhai‘s sudden and untimely demise on 30 December 1971 was a great blow to Abdul Kalampersonally and a huge loss to Indian science as a whole. Kalam considered him the mahatma of Indianscience-a towering figure whose vision defined the country‘s space programme. He generated leadershipqualities in his team and inspired them through both idea and example. As a tribute to the man to whom itowed its existence, the whole complex at Thumba merged together to form an integrated space Centre andchristened the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). Dr. Brahm Prakash took over as the first director ofVSSC.HANDS-ON; HANDS-OFF APPROACHKalam says that each member in the SLV-3 project team was expert in his or her own field. So they valuedindependence. A project leader should adopt a delicate balance between hands-on and hands-off approach tomanage the performance of such specialists. The hands-on approach means taking an active interest in theteam‘s work, on a very regular basis. The hands-off approach trusts team members and recognizes their needfor autonomy, to carry out their roles as they see fit. It depends on their self-motivation. When a leader goestoo far with the hands-on approach, he is seen as an anxious and interfering type. Getting too hands-off canbe seen as irresponsibility or not being interested.LEADERSHIP QUALITIES ACCORDING TO KALAMKalam, as a team leader, used to observe his colleagues carefully to see if they had the willingness toexperiment constantly. He used to get the team together to share the results, little developments, experiencesand small successes. He says that a good leader receives commitment and participation from his team. Hesays that theSLV-3 team was a unique blend of untutored talents. It was a mixture of self-trained engineers whosededication and character suited SLV-3 the most. He also wrote a short poem, appreciating the work of histeam….Beautiful hands are those that do Work that is earnest and brave and true Moment by moment the long daythrough. Kalam says that a leader should be sufficiently independent and powerful. He used to adopt twotechniques to strengthen personal freedom. First, to build the educational skills and second, to develop apassion for personal responsibility. He also learnt that leaders exist at every level. He allowed mistakes asapart of the learning process. He preferred a dash of daring and persistence to perfection.COMMUNICATION AND CONVERSATIONKalam used communication as his password or mantra for managing the gigantic project. He says that hewas a terrible conversationalist but a good communicator. A conversation is full of pleasantries and need nothave any useful information, whereas a communication is meant only for the exchange of information.Communication is a two-party affair which aims at passing on or receiving a specific piece of information.Kalam used to define the problems, identify the necessary action to solve it through genuine communication.DESCRIPTION OF LAUNCH VEHICLE USING HUMAN BODYKalam describes a launch vehicle using the human body in comparison. The main mechanical structure iscompared to the human body. The control and guidance system including their electronic circuit systems iscompared to human brain. The propellants are compared to the muscles. He also says that SLVs and missilescan be called first cousins as they come from same lineage, rocketry.THE TRAGEDY THAT STRUCK KALAM’S PERSONAL LIFE IN
  12. 12. Page 12 of 18The untimely death of Kalam‘s brother-in-law, Jallaluddin was the first tragedy. He was Kalam‘s mentor andguide. Kalam was shocked and became motionless on hearing the news. He could not think or feel anything.He recollected the time he spent with Jallaluddin. Kalam lost interest in many things for many days.Then came the news of his father‘s death. He had been in ill health for quite sometime. Later, when Kalamwas about to leave for France, his mother too passed away.WERNHER VON BRAUNWernher von Braun was one of the most important rocket scientists .Everybody working in rocketry knowsof Von Braun. He was the technical director of the German Missile Laboratory at Kummersdorf. Hedeveloped the V-2 missile for Nazis, which destroyed London during the World War II. In the final stages ofthe war he was captured by the Allied forces. As a tribute to his genius, he was given a top position in therocketry programme at NASA. He produced the Jupiter missile, the first IRBM with a 3000 km range, whileworking for the US army. For 15 years after the War, Von Braun worked with the USA in the developmentof ballistic missiles. He created the Saturn rocket in the Apollo mission which put the first man on the moon.SIGNIFICANCE OF THE V-2 MISSILEThe V-2 missile was the greatest single achievement in the history of rockets and missiles. It was the resultof the efforts of Von Braun and his team in VFR. It began as a civilian effort but soon became an officialarmy programme. The first V-2 missile was tested unsuccessfully in June1942. It toppled over on to its sideand exploded. But on 16 August 1942, it became the first missile to exceed the speed of sound.VON BRAUN’S PERSONALITYKalam was filled with awe when he had to pick up Von Braun in Madras. They travelled in the Avro aircraftwhich took 90 minutes from Madras to Trivandrum. Von Braun asked Kalam about their work and listenedto him just like another student of rocketry. Kalam never expected the father of modern rocketry to be sohumble, receptive and encouraging. He made Kalam feel comfortable throughout the flight.VON BRAUN’S OPINION ON AMERICA AND HIS ADVISE TO KALAMVon Braun told Kalam that America is a country of great possibilities but they suspect everything un-American and they have a low opinion on everything foreign. They also suffer from a NIH (Not InventedHere) complex. Von Braun advised Kalam to do the rocketry work all by himself without depending uponoutside help. He also said that one doesn‘t just build on successes but also on failures. He said that mere hardwork can fetch him honour. He said that one shouldn‘t build rock walls but create a terrace placing rock overrock. He made it clear that making a goal makes the difference. His words ―Do not make rocketry yourprofession or your livelihood—make it your religion, your mission.‖ made Kalam see something of Prof.Sarabhai in Von Braun. Kalam followed the words of Wernher Von Braun. He put a hold button on his life.He put all his being in the work without any other activities.WORKAHOLICKalam questions the term ‗workaholic‘. He says that he finds pleasure in working and works towards thatwhich he desires. Then why should the term be considered a ‗mental lapse‘ which implies illness? Kalamsays that the common thing among all successful men and women is ‗total commitment‘. One should bestrong enoughand in sound health to achieve something.FLOWFlow is the joy that one would experience while working with total commitment and involvement. It is anoverwhelming sensation. During this joyous experience, action follows action. One need not try to doanything consciously. There is no hurry and no distractions to the worker‘s attention. There would be nomore difference between the worker and the work. The worker would flow into the work. Kalam says thattheir team used to be very relaxed, energetic and fresh even though they worked very hard. The difficulttargets that seemed achievable might have created the flow, says Kalam. The first requirement to get intoflow is to work as hard as one can, at something that presents a challenge. The challenge need not be anoverwhelming one, but one that increases one‘s ability. The task that is performed should be better than theprevious one. Another pre-requisite for being in flow is the availability of a significant span of uninterruptedtime. Kalam says that it is difficult to switch into flow state in less than half an hour and it is
  13. 13. Page 13 of 18impossible to switch into the state if we are constantly disturbed. Disturbances break flow and it is difficultto regain flow within a short time. He used to experience the flow state almost everyday of the SLV-3mission. He used to find the laboratory empty and then realize that it was way past his work hours.Sometimes, he and his team members were so caught up in work that the lunch time slipped away withouttheir conscious that they were hungry. Thus according to Kalam, flow is the experience of joy in workingwith total commitment and involvement.THE SUCCESS STORY OF SLV-3In 1969, Prof. Sarabhai decided to build India‘s own satellites and Satellite Launch Vehicle. He picked up ateam to materialize his dream. Abdul Kalam was a project leader and designer of the fourth stage of SLV-3.After Prof. Sarabhai‘s demise, he was appointed Project Manager for SLV-3. The primary objectives of theSLV-3 project were design, development and operation of a standard SLV system capable of launching a 40kg satellite into a 400 km circular orbit around the earth. A target of flight test within 64 months was set inMarch 1973. Three groups were constituted to carry out the project activities. They were ProgrammeManagement Group, Integration and Flight Testing Group and Subsystems Development Group. AbdulKalam asked for 275 engineers but got only 50. However, the project team members were exceptionallytalented. Almost 250 sub-assemblies and 44 major subsystems were conceived during the design. The list ofthe materials went up to over one million components. The self-sufficiency to produce SLV 3 camegradually. The team members were self-trained engineers. They had the necessary talent, character anddedication to make the SLV 3 project a success. Kalam used communication as his pass word for managingthis gigantic project. The SLV 3 project members set three important deadlines for themselves. They were- developmentand flight worthiness of all subsystems through sounding rockets by 1975; sub-orbital flights by 1976 andthe final orbital flight in 1978. In 1974 the century sounding rocket was launched to test some criticalsystems. Thetest was a great success. Kalam learned that the SLV 3 apogee rocket scheduled to be flight tested in France,developed some trouble. He went to France, removed the snags and successfully tested the apogee motor. Hethrew all his being into creating the SLV 3. The team members experienced a flow in their work. Thoughtheir targets were difficult, they were hopeful of achieving them. The hardware required for SLV 3 startedcoming in. The confidence of the team increased. Abdul Kalam was in complete control over the SLV 3project. The first ever experimental flight of SLV 3 was scheduled for 10 August 1979 with the primarygood of evaluating on-board systems and the ground system. The 23-metre-long, four-stage SLV 3 rocket,weighing 17 tonnes, finally took off elegantly at 0758 hours and moved in the programmed trajectory. StageII went out of control and the vehicle crashed into the sea, 560 km off Sriharikota, within 317 seconds. Theentire team was sad and disappointed. Kalam took the responsibility for this failure. The second flight ofSLV 3 was scheduled for 18 July 1980 at 0803 hours. The eyes of the whole nation were on the secondflight. India‘s first Satellite Launch Vehicle, SLV 3 lifted off from SHAR. The fourth stage apogee motorhas given the required velocity to put Rohini satellite into orbit. Kalam‘ colleagues carried him on theirshoulders. The success of SLV 3 was the culmination of a national dream and the beginning of a veryimportantphase in the history of India. It was one hundred percent indigenous effort. It proved the scientific strengthof India. On the Republic Day of 1981, Abdul Kalam was honoured with Padma Bhushan award.DR. BRAHM PRAKASHDr. Brahm Prakash was the first Indian to head the Department of Metallurgy in the Indian Institute ofScience. He developed techniques for the extraction and fabrication of a variety of nuclear-grade metals. Hebecame the first director of the VSSC, which oversaw the launch of SLV-3. He was Kalam‘s sheet-anchor.His belief in team spirit had inspired and guided the management pattern for the SLV project. This became amodel and blueprint for all scientific projects in the country. He gave a new strength and dimension to thequalities that Kalam acquired from Prof. Sarabhai. Dr. Brahm Prakash always cautioned Kalam against hastesaying that big scientific projects were like mountains that should be climbed without urgency. He consoledKalam at the time of the unsuccessful launch of the SLV 3. He waited for Kalam to take lunch with
  14. 14. Page 14 of 18Kalam was deeply touched by his affection and concern. He demonstrated to Kalam that he was not aloneand that his team was with him to share his grief. It gave great emotional support to Kalam. Dr. BrahmPrakash chided Kalam for his formality when Kalam thanked him on being conferred with the PadmaBhushan Award. He said that he feels as if his son has got the award.THE BITTER TRUTHSLV 3 was successfully launched from SHAR on 18 July 1980. The next SLV-3 named SLV 3 D1 took offon 31 May 1981. Kalam viewed this flight from the visitor‘s gallery for the first time. He became the focusof the media attention and thus aroused the envy of some of his senior colleagues. Kalam was hurt at thisenvironment. But he accepted it as he could not change it. The bitterness was real. Later, when the PadmaBhushan Award was conferred on him, there were mixed reactions at VSSC. A few shared his happinesswhile others felt that he was being unduly singled out for recognition. Some of his close associates turnedenvious.PROF. RAJA RAMANNAProf. Raja Ramanna pioneered nuclear physics in India, with his research in nuclear fission. He was arenowned nuclear scientist whom Kalam always admired. He was then the scientific adviser to the defenceminister. Kalam had the memories of his first meet with Prof. Sarabhai when he met Prof. Ramanna. Heshowed genuine pleasure at meeting Kalam. There was eagerness in his talk. His sympathetic friendlinessaccompanied by graceful movements struck Kalam. He asked Kalam if he would like to join DRDL andshoulder the responsibility of shaping their Guided Missile Development Programme (GMDP). WINGS OF FIREUNIT-5(CH. 17 TO 20)KALAM AT DRDLKalam joined DRDL on 1 June 1982. He realized that the laboratory was still haunted by the winding up ofthe Devil missile. Many excellent professionals had not recovered from the disappointment. He realized thatthe burial of the Devil was essential for the rise of hope and vision. He made it out a point with his team. Hismessage was not to make anything that couldn‘t be sold and not to spend the life making only one thing. Hisfirst few months at DRDL were largely interactive. He described and explained their goals and the interplaybetween their work and themselves. He was astonished to see the determination of the DRDL workforce.They were eager to go ahead despite of the premature winding up of their earlier projects. He extendedinvitations to people from various institutions. He felt that the stuffy work centers of DRDL needed a breathof fresh air. He mentions that ISRO was lucky to have had Prof. Sarabhai and Dr. Brahm Prakash whohighlighted their goals clearly, made their missions larger than their lives and could then inspire the entirework force. He says that DRDL had not been so lucky. Kalam created a forum of senior scientists where important matters could be discussed collectively. Itwas called the Missile Technology Committee. The middle-level scientists and engineers were madeinvolved in the management activities of the laboratory.LONG-TERM GUIDED MISSILE DEVELPOMENT PROGRAMMEA committee was constituted under Kalam‘s chairmanship to draw up a well-defined missile developmentprogramme for the production of indigenous missiles. They drafted a paper for the cabinet after consultingthe three defence services-the army, the navy and the air force. The estimated expenditure was about Rs.390crore, spread over a period of 12 years. Kalam and his team wanted to get funds to develop and produce twomissiles, a tactical core vehicle and a surface-to-surface missile. They also proposed to develop a thirdgeneration anti-tank guided missile. All his colleagues were pleased with the proposal. Kalam made apresentation to the Government. The meeting was presided over by the Defence Minister, R Venkataramanand was attended by the three service chiefs and senior officials. Everyone seemed to have many doubts ontheir capabilities, the technological infrastructure, viability schedule and cost. Dr. Arunachalam, thescientific adviser, stood by Kalam throughout the session. Everyone was excited at the idea of India havingher own missile systems.INTEGRATED GUIDED MISSILE DEVELOPMENT
  15. 15. Page 15 of 18The Defence Minister suggested Kalam and Dr. Arunachalam that they launch an integrated GMDP, insteadof making missiles in phases. They were asked to come the next morning with their plan. They laboured allthe night. They took into account all the variables like design, fabrication, system integration, experimentalflights,evaluation, updating, user trials, quality, reliability and financial viability. They felt that a very excitingchallenge had been thrown to them. The Defence Minister was very much pleased with their new proposal,which had turned overnight into the blueprint of an integrated programme with far reaching consequences.He immediately cleared the entire proposal. The Defence Minister also arranged an air force helicopter totake Kalam from Chennai to Madurai to attend his niece‘s wedding. Dr. Arunachalam told, ―You haveearned this for your hard work of the last six months‖. The Defence Minister put up the proposal before thecabinet and saw it through. An unprecedented amount of Rs.388 crore was sanctioned. Thus was bornIndia‘s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). Kalam presented thegovernment‘s sanction letter before the Missile Technology Committee at DRDL. They were filled withexcitement, fire and action.Dr. Arunachalam formally launched IGMDP on 27 July 1983. Kalam felt it to bethe second-most significant day in his career, next to 18 July 1980, when SLV-3 hadlaunched Rohini into Earth‘s orbit. The launch of IGMDP was like a bright flash on the Indian scientific sky.THE FIVE PROJECTSThe proposed projects were christened in accordance with the spirit of India‘s self-reliance. The mostimportant task before Kalam was the selection of the project directors to lead individual missile projects.Kalam observed the working styles of many scientists before making his decision.PRITHVI:The surface-to-surface weapon system was named Prithvi. Kalam chose Col. VJ Sundaram to lead Prithvi.He belonged to the EME corps of the Indian Army. He experimented with team work. Kalam found in him areadiness to experiment with new ways. He was an experimenter and innovator in team work. He had anextraordinary capability for evaluating alternative ways of operating. He would suggest moving forward intonew grounds .He could provide effective work directions. The project director of Prithvi would be the first tomake decisions withproduction agencies and the armed forces and Kalam believed that Sundaram would be the ideal choice tosee that sound decisions were taken. Prithvi was launched on 25 February 1988. It was competent andprecise in core guidance and technologies. Prithvi represented the self-reliance of the country in the field ofadvanced technology. It can carry 1000kg of warhead to a distance of 250 km.It is the surface-to-surfacemissile in the world. It is 100% indigenous in design, operation and deployment. It was meant weredelivering non-nuclear weapons.TRISHUL:The tactical core vehicle was called Trishul. It was a short-range, quick reaction surface-to-air missile. ForTrishul, Kalam selected Commodore SR Mohan from the Indian Navy. He not only had sound knowledge ofelectronics and missile warfare, but could also communicate the complexities to the team in order to promoteunderstanding and support. Kalam found in him a magical power of persuasion. Trishul was successfully testfired in 1985 from Sriharikota. It took India into areas of competence where there was no competition.AGNI:Kalam gave the name Agni to his long-cherished dream of the REX (Re-entry Experiment) .It was anintermediate-range ballistic missile. Kalam chose RN Agarwal, an alumnus of MIT. He had a brilliantacademic record. He had been managing the aeronautical test facilities at DRDL. He was found to be theright person who would tolerate Kalam‘s occasional meddling in the running of the project.AKASH AND NAG:Kalam selected relatively young Prahlada and NR Iyer for Akash and Nag as their activities were expectedto peak about half a decade later. Akash was a medium range surface-to-air missile. It was developed by thepost-graduate students of Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bangalore, under the leadership of Prof. Sarma.Nag was an anti-tank guided missile. This missile had no equal in its field. Osmania University‘
  16. 16. Page 16 of 18Navigational Electronics Research and Training Unit developed state-of-the-art signal processing algorithmsfor Nag.RESEARCH CENTRE IMARAT (RCI)Kalam found the space available at DRDL inadequate to meet the requirements of IGMDP. He visitedImarat Kancha area. It was a barren land dotted with large rocks. Kalam felt the tremendous energy trappedin those rocks. He decided to locate the integration and check-out facilities needed for the missile projectsthere. It hadbecome his mission for the next three years. A proposal was drawn up to establish a model high-technologyresearch centre with very advanced technical facilities. He chose MV Suryakantha Rao to carry on thisgigantic task.They approached the Military Engineering Service (MES) for construction, discussed with the Ministry ofDefence and collaborated with an outside company to prepare the layout. An infrastructure to provide 40MVA power and 5 million litres of water per day was planned. Developing this centre of excellence ofmissile technology was compared to the joy of a potter shaping artefacts. It came to be known as ResearchCentre Imarat (RCI) retaining the original identity of the place. The young Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi laidthe foundation stone of RCI on 3 August 1985. He was very pleased with the progress made. He told theDRDL team that he understood the troubles faced by Indian scientists. He expressed his gratitude towardsthose who preferred to stay and work in India despite the odds rather than go abroad for comfortable careers.MAKING USE OF THE DEVIL MISSILEAn altitude control system and an on-board computer were developed and a missile was needed to test thisimportant system. After many discussions, the Devil missile was put to use. It was disassembled, modifiedand was fired with a make-shift launcher on 26 June 1984 to flight test the guidance system. The system metall the requirements. This had been the first significant step in the history of Indian missile development.Moving towards designing our own systems had begun.INDIRA GANDHI’S VISIT TO DRDLPrime Minister Indira Gandhi expressed her desire to be personally informed of the progress of IGMDP. Shevisited DRDL on 19 July 1984. Kalam felt it to be an honour to receive her at DRDL. She was a strongwoman and a great leader. She wanted the nation to be strong enough to meet any eventuality. She was theleader of 800 million people and she was very much conscious of it. Kalam says that every step, everygesture and every movement of her hands reflected this. She gave high regard to the work in the field ofguided missiles which gave a lot of encouragement to Kalam and others. She spent an hour at DRDL andcovered all the aspects of IGMDP. She later addressed the DRDL community and asked for the schedules ofthe flight systems that they were working on. She enquired what was needed to speed up the flight schedule.She also announced that a fast pace of work is the hope of the entire nation. She asked Kalam to layemphasis not only on the schedule but also on the excellence of the IGMDP. Her appreciation of the workdone provided immense encouragement to the staff.AN INFUSION OF YOUNG BLOODThe missile programme had partners in design, development and production from 12 academic institutionsand 30 laboratories. Kalam, with a few members of the missile programme, visited campuses andrequestedthe aspiring students to participate in the programme. The young engineers changed the dynamics of DRDL.They didn‘t fully grasp the importance of their work, at first. Once they did, they felt the burden of thetremendous faith placed in them. The young scientific environment had changed the negative attitudes topositive. The things that were previously thought impractical began happening. Many older scientists wererejuvenated by being part of a young team.Kalam insisted that the youngest scientists would present their team‘s work at the review meetings. It wouldhelp them visualise the whole system. An atmosphere of confidence grew. The young started questioning thesenior colleagues on solid technical issues. The work environment was lively with a good blend of theexperience of the older scientists and the innovation of their younger colleagues. Kalam says that thepositive dependence between youth and experience had created a very productive work culture at
  17. 17. Page 17 of 18Trishul successfully took off on 16 September 1985. Another significant step was the successful test flight ofthe Pilotless Target Aircraft. The postgraduate students developed air defence software for multi-targetacquisition by Akash. The re-entry vehicle system design methodology for Agni was developed by a youngteam at IIT, Madras, with DRDO scientists. A state-of-art signal processing algorithms for Nag was alsodeveloped by the Osmania University‘s Navigational Electronics Research and Training Unit. These were afew examples of collaborative effort. Kalam says that it would have been very difficult to achieve theadvanced technological goals without the active partnership of those academic institutions. The challengeinvolved in the Agni payload was met by the young scientists working in the field of fluid dynamics. Theymade it possible by developing the required software within six months. Kalam says that the effort of theseyoung teams made the country self-reliant in the area of protected technologies. It was a good example of the‗renewal factor‘. Our intellectual capacity was renewed through contact with enthusiastic young minds.THE SUCCESS MANTRA OF KALAMKalam says that one should judge one‘s actions. Kalam, as a young scientist, desired to be more than whathe was at that moment. He desired to feel more, learn more and express more. He desired to grow, improveand expand. He never used anybody‘s influence to advance his career. All he had was the inner urge (strongdesire) to seek more within himself. The key to his motivation had always been to look at how far he hadstill to go, rather than how far he had come.LACK OF EMPOWERMENTIn 1983 India did not have an adequate technology base. But the country lacked theempowerment(authority/facility) to utilise the expert technology that was available. Combining theapproaches of Prof. Sarabhai, Prof. Dhawan and Dr. Brahm Prakash, Kalam tried to create a completelyindigenous variety of technology management. India attempted to develop a model that was appropriate toour specific needs and capabilities. We borrowed ideas that had been developed elsewhere, but adapted themin the light of what we knew were our strengths. At the same time India recognized the restrictions that ithad to work under. Appropriate management helped to prove what talent and potential lay in our researchlaboratories, government institutions and private industries.THE TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHYThe Technology Management Philosophy of the missile development programme is not limited to missiledevelopment only. It represents the urge to succeed and awareness that the world is never again to bedirected by muscle or money power. Only nations with technological superiority will enjoy freedom andsovereignty. Technology, unlike science, is a group of activity, it does not grow on individual intelligence,but by intelligence interacting and ceaselessly influencing one another. This is how the IGMDP has becomea strong Indian family that makes missile systems.KALAM’S ADVICE TO THE YOUTH OF TODAYAbdul Kalam wished that the story of his struggle to become a person, should give some insight into life ofthe youth of today. This may equip at least a few young people to stand up in the society. People tend to getaddicted to the endless pursuits of external rewards like wealth, prestige, position, promotion, approval ofone‘s lifestyle by others, ceremonial honours and status symbols of all kinds. The youth of today must de-learn this self-defeating way of living. The culture of working formaterial possessions and rewards must be discarded. Whenever Kalam saw wealthy, powerful, learnedpeople struggling to be at peace with themselves, he remembered people like Jallaluddin and IyaduraiSolomon. They were happy without any money or possessions. They drew sustenance from within. Theyrelied more on inner signals and on external markers. Life will be better without external pressures. Theentire nation will be benefited by having strong, inner-directed people as its citizens.GREAT EMOTIONAL LOSSDr. Brahm Prakash‘s death (3 January 1984) was a great emotional loss to Abdul Kalam. Kalam had had theprivilege of working under him during the most challenging period of his career. Dr. Brahm Prakash playeda very important role in shaping Kalam‘s leadership skills. He had been Kalam‘s sheet-anchor. His humilityand compassion were exemplary. Kalam says that Dr. Brahm Prakash‘s humility mellowed him and
  18. 18. Page 18 of 18him control his aggressive approach. Kalam remembered his healing touch on the day of the failed SLVflight, and his sorrowdeepened