I bought Wings of Fire while returning from India once as I was keen on reading about India’s foremost nuclear scientist, “the Missile Man of India,” Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam (Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.) The book is an autobiography of former President of India, Dr. Kalam. It was written collectively by Dr. Kalam and Arun Tiwari who worked with the former. In this book Kalam tells the reader about his early life, hardships he underwent while studying, little luck he had, efforts made while working on defense related work and constant failures and hard work that eventually led him to lead Indian space research, nuclear and missile programs. Kalam started his career, after graduating from Aerospace engineering at MIT (Chennai), India, at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and was assigned to build a hovercraft prototype. Later he moved to ISRO and helped establish the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and pioneered the first space launch-vehicle program. During the 1990s and early 2000, Kalam moved to the DRDO to lead the Indian nuclear weapons program, with particular successes in thermonuclear weapons development culminating in the operation Smiling Buddha and an ICBM Agni (missile.)
Dr. Kalam is the son of a little-educated boat-owner in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. His march to the helm was not through a bed of roses. But whenever something dragged him down he was more courageous than ever and went for his goal. Being a Muslim, he forgot his religious identity when strengthening the Indian nuclear program mainly against Pakistan. He thought like an Indian and acted like one.
Dr. Kalam never hesitated to give responsibilities to younger officials at his work places. He fully trusted their capabilities and encouraged them. He was instrumental in producing weaponry like Agni, Prithvi, Akash, Trishul and Nag-missiles that made India a nuclear recognized nation. He had to undergo many a failure throughout his career as a defense weapons designer. But he never gave up.
He remains a bachelor and has very little links to his relatives. He sacrificed all the worldly pleasures for India. India paid him back by electing him the President of India and bestowing him with the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna. He is India’s Albert Einstein.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s book, Wings of Fire is an inspirational book for any Indian youth to stop complaining about what he/she does not have and to utilize what he/she has and show the results. This is a very good guide book for the youth.
He explains: “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 feel he is lucky not to have been intimidated by any political leaders in power. They absolutely believed in him and gave enough freedom and resources for him to achieve what he planned on behalf of the nation’s well-being.
Even though Indian political leaders are doing everything to divide the nation according to castes, religions, languages, regions and classes Dr. Kalam has given the message to the people of India to unite through his way of work and conduct.