Who is Abdul Qadeer Khan?
A man hailing from a well to do family in Bhopal, India, emigrated from India at the age of 16 in 1952. Studied Physics and Mathematics in Pakistan, Went to Germany and Netherlands to study Metallurgy. Some years after his doctorate, joined URENCO, a lab performing experiments in nuclear technology. His work got him access to blue-prints of Uranium centrifuges. Soon, Khan took a leave to visit his country in 1974 and fled away with the blueprints entrusted to him, never to return back. His stolen blueprints helped Pakistan go nuclear.
Khan went on to allegedly create an international network to sell nuclear technology to nations like Libya, Iran and North Korea. He was soon caught and had to come on national TV to apologise and accept his crime. He was put under house arrest for many years. He today lives a life of ignominy, and seldom gives interviews to the media.
Who is APJ Abdul Kalam?
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, was born in a very poor family and had to work as a newspaper boy in his childhood to make ends meet. Kalam graduated in Physics and went on to study Aerospace Engineering on a scholarship, building India’s first Hovercraft as a part of his project in college. After college, he narrowly missed becoming a fighter plane pilot and ended up joining DRDO. After 9 years in there, he was shifted to ISRO to become the project director of India’s first Satellite launch vehicle which successfully deployed the Rohini and Aryabhatta Satellite (You might remember having seen its image at the back of the old Rs. 2 note).
In the coming years, he headed projects to develop the PSLV rocket system for ISRO and the now famous Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. Further, as the Chief Scientific advisor to the government, he oversaw Pokharan II, while working on pet projects to develop the Kalam-Raju low cost cardiovascular stent and the Kalam-Raju tablet computer for healthcare in rural India.
Dr Kalam went on to serve India again as its 11th President in 2002, Post his presidency, Dr. Kalam continued his passion to teach and joined Anna University as a professor. Kalam died in 2015 while delivering a lecture to a few young students in Shillong.
Bharat Ratna, Dr. Kalam was known as a people’s president and earned many awards and accolades in his life time. His visit to Switzerland is commemorated there as the National Science Day every year. The national missile test site in Odisha was renamed as the Abdul Kalam Island in september 2015. Dr Kalam continues to inspire millions around the world.
Dr Kadeer is perhaps right in calling Abdul Kalam an ordinary scientist. He was an ordinary Indian scientist who made his country proud. He was an ordinary scientist who became a role model for people around the world.