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|November 26, 1997||
Bharat Ratna conferred on Dr Abdul Kalam
Dr Avil Pakir Jalaluddin Abdul Kalam, the pioneer of India's missile programme, was today awarded the country's highest civilian award - the Bharat Ratna -- for his immense and valuable contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence technology.
He is the second scientist after the late Homi Bhabha to receive the award.
Dr Kalam, who is scientific advisor to the defence minister, brought together scientists from the defence services, academic institutions and laboratories to develop the country's successful ''integrated guided missile development programme''.
Dr Kalam feels only self-help can ensure the country's security and technological prowess. Some of his ambitious plans, which are being handled by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, include the light combat aircraft, the Arjun main battle tank and other projects.
A graduate of St Joseph's, Tiruchi, Dr Kalam specialised in aero-engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology. His only stint aboard was a four month visit to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States.
He initially worked in the DRDO in 1958 and then joined the Indian Space Research Organisation in 1963. He contributed to the development of the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 to put the Rohini satellite in orbit. He rejoined DRDO in 1982 as director of the DRDO Laboratory in Hyderabad.
At Hyderabad he conceived the integrated guided missile development programme for indigenous missiles. He also laid a solid foundation for indigenous design and development and high technology in aero-space programmes.
Dr Kalam believed that defence technology can be used as a technological tool for national development and enlisting partners in the endeavour. He was conferred the degree of Doctor of Science by several universities. He is recipient of several awards, including national design awards, the Dr Biren Roy space award, the Om Prakash Bhasin award, the Madhya Pradesh government's National Nehru award, the Astronomical Society of India's Aryabhatta award in 1994, the Professor Y Nayudamma Memorial gold medal in 1996, the G M Modi award for science in 1996, and the H K Firodia award for excellence in science and technology in 1996. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990.
Dr Kalam is vice-president of the ASI, a fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and a honorary fellow of the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering.
Dr Kalam, who was born on October 15, 1931, has never married. An avid student of Tamil literature, he also takes considerable interest in medical developments, contributing to some himself.
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