It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who this is.
If the flight of seagulls intrigues him, so do flights of fancy while writing verse. The top-secret indigenous 'K' missiles, named after him, make India only the sixth country to have developed strategic undersea missiles. He lovingly tends to his head full of curls trimmed and styled once every four months; in his 70s, he was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and in 2006. Five years after he was President, the country still goes ballistic over his frisking at the JFK Airport in USA. And many, political parties included, are pushing for him to be President again.
That's Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, India's 'People's President' and 'Missile Man' who started life as a humble paperboy to supplement family income.
Born in Rameswaram on 15 October 1931, he was brought up by his boatman father Jainulabdeen in a multi-religious environment. He had seven siblings, his mother Ashimma at times, made chappati
s for him, while the others were given rice, since his day would start at 4 am and end at 11 pm. Because he was a bright student and would often burn midnight oil, his mother would save up some kerosene oil for him.
He spent his growing years dreaming of conquering the space frontiers on the Arabian Sea. His dreams of the next two decades were mostly conjured up on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, where he test-fired a variety of short-, medium- and long-range conventional and nuclear-capable missiles for India.
His interest in flying led to a degree in aeronautical engineering, and eventually to his supervising the development of India's guided missile program. He went abroad to study only once, in 1963-'64, to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States.
Along the way, he discovered his love for Tamil poetry and learned to play the veena. He can recite the Holy Quran and the Bhagavad Gita and knows the Holy Scriptures inside out.
Although Dr Kalam has led several projects in his professional life, he's said to have treated each project like it was his last. His unassuming disposition, it is said, cloaks a formidable catalyst which can make people work. And every time his achievements are lauded, Dr Kalam takes the praise with characteristic humility. At every felicitation ceremony, he's known to give full credit for his success to his colleagues.
Dr Kalam played a pivotal organisational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974. He is chancellor of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, a professor at Anna University in Chennai and visiting faculty at many other academic and research institutions across India.
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna, and then he became the President of India; one of the few presidents to have touched the hearts of the poor children in the country. Because he also came from a poor background, he knew the power of education in changing one's future.
When Dr Kalam's first major project SLV 3-was abortive the first time around and his childhood mentor died around that time, he drew strength from philosophy, religion and literature to tide over his professional setbacks.
His bachelor status has purportedly posed problems, especially as President, since his largely ceremonial job involved hosting lavish banquets.
In the 2011 Hindi film I Am Kalam
, Dr Kalam is portrayed as an extremely positive influence to a poor but bright Rajasthani boy named Chhotu, who renames himself, Kalam, in honour of his idol.