A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Indian scientist and statesman (1931–2015)

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 193127 July 2015) was an Indian aerospace scientist who served as the 11th president of India from 2002 to 2007. He was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering.

I have always considered the price of perfection prohibitive and allowed mistakes as a part of the learning process. I prefer a dash of daring and persistence to perfection.

APJ Abdul Kalam was a great mind and an inspiration to many. His words were often wise and full of meaning. When it comes to inspirational personalities, few are as revered as APJ Abdul Kalam. The former President of India was known for his humanitarian work and dedication to education, and his words have inspired people around the world.


Thinking should become your capital asset, whatever ups and downs you may come across in your life.
  • Most people: they take birth. Earn a living, and, then, they die. Never follow them.
  • If you want to shine like a star, first you have to burn like a star.
  • The best brains of a nation may be in the last bench of a classroom.
  • Excellence happens not by accident, it is a process.
  • Creativity is seeing the same thing, but thinking differently.
  • I am really overwhelmed. Everywhere both in Internet and in other media, I have been asked for a message. I was thinking what message I can give to the people of the country at this juncture.
    • In: Rediff.com News, June 13, 2002 (online): Kalam responding to the announcement of his candidature by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
  • We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage.
    • India. Parliament. House of the People (2003) Lok Sabha Debates. p. 45.
  • If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.
    • Arvind Gupta, Mukul Chaturvedi, Akshay Joshi (2004) Security and Diplomacy: Essential Documents. p. 144.
  • Many, many citizens have also expressed the same wish. It only reflects their love and affection for me and the aspiration of the people. I am really overwhelmed by this support. This being their wish, I respect it. I want to thank them for the trust they have in me.
  • Thinking should become your capital asset, whatever ups and downs you may come across in your life.
  • Difficulties in your life do not come to destroy but to help you realize your hidden potential and power. Let difficulties know that you too are difficult.
  • All birds find shelter during a rain, but eagle avoids rain by flying above the clouds. Problems are common, but attitude makes the difference.
  • If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means "First Attempt In Learning". End is not the end, in fact E.N.D. means "Effort Never Dies." If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means "Next Opportunity". So let's be positive.

Wings of Fire

I wonder why some people tend to see science as something which takes man away from God. As I look at it, the path of science can always wind through the heart. For me, science has always been the path to spiritual enrichment and self-realisation.
'Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, Aruṇ Tivāri (1999) Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam ISBN 8173711461.
  • I inherited honesty and self-discipline from my father; from my mother, I inherited faith in goodness and deep kindness as did my three brothers and sisters.
    • p. 8
  • I wonder why some people tend to see science as something which takes man away from God. As I look at it, the path of science can always wind through the heart. For me, science has always been the path to spiritual enrichment and self-realisation.
    • p. 15
  • … the best way to win was to not need to win. The best performances are accomplished when you are relaxed and free of doubt.
    • p. 31
  • One of the important functions of prayer, I believe, is to act as a stimulus to creative ideas. Within the mind are all the resources required for successful living. Ideas are present in the consciousness, which when released and given scope to grow and take shape, can lead to successful events. God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps to tap and develop these powers.
    • p. 32
  • My impression of the American people can be summarized by a quotation from Benjamin Franklin, "Those things that hurt instruct!" I realised that people in this part of the world meet their problems head on. They attempt to get out of them rather than suffer them.
    • p. 38
  • I often read Khalil Gibran, and always find his words full of wisdom. "Bread baked without love is a bitter bread that feeds but half a man's hunger"—those who cannot work with their hearts achieve but a hollow, half-hearted success that breeds bitterness all around. If you are a writer who would secretly prefer to be a lawyer or a doctor, your written words will feed but half the hunger of your readers; if you are a teacher who would rather be a businessman, your instructions will meet but half the need for knowledge of your students; if you are a scientist who hates science, your performance will satisfy but half the needs of your mission.
    • p. 45
  • I have always been a religious person in the sense that I maintain a working partnership with God. I was aware that the best work required more ability than I possessed and therefore I needed help that only God could give me. I made a true estimate of my own ability, then raised it by 50 per cent and put myself in God's hands. In this partnership, I have always received all the power I needed, and in fact have actually felt it flowing through me. Today, I can affirm that the kingdom of God is within you in the form of this power, to help achieve your goals and realise your dreams.
    • p. 49
  • I have always considered the price of perfection prohibitive and allowed mistakes as a part of the learning process. I prefer a dash of daring and persistence to perfection. I have always supported learning on the part of my team members by paying vigilant attention to each of their attempts, be they successful or unsuccessful.
    • p. 58
  • I was (and am) a terrible conversationist but consider myself a good communicator.
    • p. 76
  • To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal. Individuals like myself are often called 'workaholics'. I question this term because that implies a pathological condition or an illness. If I do what I desire more than anything else in the world and which makes me happy, such work can never be an aberration.
    • p. 89
  • Total commitment is the common denominator among all successful men and women.
    • p. 90
  • Climbing to the top demands strength, whether to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.
    • p. 90
  • Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.
    • p. 90
  • I have used the word 'flow' at many places without really elaborating its meaning. What is this flow? And what are these joys? I could call them moments of magic. I see an anology between these moments and the high that you experience when you play badminton or go jogging. Flow is a sensation we experience when we act with total involvement. During flow, action follows action according to an internal logic that seems to need no conscious intervention on the part of the worker. There is no hurry, there are no distracting demands on one's attention. The past and the future disappear. So does the distinction between self and the activity.
    • p. 91
  • To me, the level of responsibility is measured by one's ability to confront the decision-making process without any delay or distraction.
    • p. 96
  • To live only for some unknown future is superficial. It is like climbing a mountain to reach the peak without experiencing its sides. The sides of the mountain sustain life, not the peak. This is where things grow, experience gained, and technologies are mastered. The importance of peak lies only in the fact that it defines the sides. So I went on towards the top, but always experiencing the sides. I had a long way to go but I was in no hurry. I went in little steps—just one step after another—but each step towards the top.
    • p. 98
  • Happiness, satisfaction, and success in life depend on making the right choices, the winning choices. There are forces in life working for you and against you. One must distinguish the beneficial forces from the malevolent ones and choose correctly between them.
    • p. 106
  • You have to dream before your dreams can come true.
    • p. 112
  • Perhaps the main motive behind my isolation was my desire to escape from the demands of relationships, which I consider very difficult in comparison to making rockets. All I desired was to be true to my way of life, to uphold the science of rocketry in my country and to retire with a clean conscience.
    • p. 121
  • It has been my personal experience that the true flavour, the real fun, the continuous excitement of work lie in the process of doing it rather than in having it over and done with.
    • p. 135
  • A person with belief never grovels before anyone, whining and whimpering that it's all too much, that he lacks support, that he is being treated unfairly. Instead, such a person tackes problems head on and then affirms, 'As a child of God, I am greater than anything that can happen to me.'
    • p. 135 or p. 136 in certain university press editions.
  • I never used any outside influence to advance my career. All I had was the inner urge to seek more within myself. The key to my motivation has always been to look at how far I had still to go rather than how far I had come.
    • p. 140
  • This is my belief: that through difficulties and problems God gives us the opportunity to grow. So when your hopes and dreams and goals are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins.
    • p. 140
  • Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.
    • p. 161
  • I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It could perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness.
    • p. 167
  • Are you aware of your inner signals? Do you trust them? Do you have the focus of control over your life in your own hands? Take this from me, the more decisions you can make avoiding external pressures, which will constantly try to manipulate and immobilise you, the better your life will be, the better your society will become. The entire nation will benifit from having strong, inner-directed people as their leaders.
    • p. 175
  • Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person. And to retain this right, you will have to be willing to take the social or external risks involved in ignoring pressures to do things the way others say they should be done.
    • p. 176

APJ Abdul Kalam (2002)

K. Bhushan, G. Katyal (2002) APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • If we are not free, no one will respect us.
    • p. 39

Eternal quest: life & times of Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (2002)

S. Chandra (2002) Eternal Quest: Life & Times of Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.
  • We must think and act like a nation of a billion people and not like that of a million people. Dream, dream, dream!
    • p. 64.
  • We have not invaded anyone. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them.
    • p. 1904

In: Philosophy & Social Action (2003)

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (2003) in: Philosophy & Social Action (2003) Vol 29, Nr 1-4. p. 20.
  • This will be the greatest legacy that we can proudly leave behind for our next generation, let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.
  • No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion.

My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions

Rupa Publications, 2014
  • My school was a happy place. All of us who started our schooling there completed our studies till the eighth standard. I don't remember even a single person dropping out. These days, when i visit schools, both big and small, all across the country, i tell them that true quality does not come from a great building or great facilities or great advertisements. It happens when education is imparted with love by great teachers.

Quotes about A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

  • "He [Kalam] was not only a great scientist, educationist and statesman, but also above all a real gentleman. Over the years, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with him on many occasions, and always admired his down-to-earth simplicity and humility. I used to enjoy our discussions on a wide range of subjects of common interest, but mainly concerned with science, spirituality and education."
  • "We are deeply shocked at the sad demise of former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, one of the most famous sons of India and a great scientific mind of his time. He was highly respected in Bangladesh as well. His invaluable contribution to India's rise in the sphere of science and technology would be remembered forever by all. He was a source of inspiration to the young generation of South Asia, someone who gave wings to their dreams."


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