A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
|A. P. J. Abdul Kalam|
|Kalam at the International Book Fair, Trivandrum, 2014|
|11th President of India|
25 July 2002 – 25 July 2007
|Prime Minister||Atal Bihari Vajpayee
|Vice President||Krishan Kant
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat
|Preceded by||K. R. Narayanan|
|Succeeded by||Pratibha Patil|
|Born||Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
15 October 1931
Rameswaram, Ramanathapuram District, British India
(now in Tamil Nadu, India)
|Died||27 July 2015
Shillong, Meghalaya, India
|Alma mater||St. Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli
Madras Institute of Technology
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen "A. P. J." Abdul Kalam (i/ /; 15 October 1931 – 27 July 2015) was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. A career scientist turned reluctant politician, Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India's civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.
Kalam was elected President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. After serving a term of five years, he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.
Early life and education
Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam was born on 15 October 1931 to a Tamil Muslim family in Rameswaram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. His father's name was Jainulabudeen, a boat owner, and his mother Ashiamma, a housewife. His father owned a ferry that took Hindu pilgrims back and forth between Rameswaram and the now-extinct Dhanushkodi. He came from a poor background and started working at an early age to supplement his family's income. After completing school, Kalam distributed newspapers to contribute to his father's income. In his school years he had average grades but was described as a bright and hardworking student who had a strong desire to learn and spend hours on his studies, especially mathematics. After completing his education at the Ramanathapuram Schwartz Matriculation School, Kalam went on to attend Saint Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli, then affiliated with the University of Madras, from where he graduated in physics in 1954. Towards the end of the course, he was not enthusiastic about the subject and would later regret the four years he studied it. He moved to Madras in 1955 to study aerospace engineering in Madras Institute of Technology. While Kalam was working on a senior class project, the Dean was dissatisfied with his lack of progress and threatened to revoke his scholarship unless the project was finished within the next three days. Kalam met the deadline, impressing the Dean, who later said to him, "I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline". He narrowly missed achieving his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, as he placed ninth in qualifiers, and only eight positions were available in the IAF.
Career as a scientist
After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as a scientist. He started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, but remained unconvinced by his choice of a job at DRDO. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist. In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he was the project director of India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near-earth orbit in July 1980; Kalam had first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Kalam received the government's approval and expanded the programme to include more engineers.
In 1963–64, he visited NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and Wallops Flight Facility. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launching Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be successful.
Kalam was invited by Raja Ramanna to witness the country's first nuclear test Smiling Buddha as the representative of TBRL, even though he had not participated in its development. In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under Kalam's directorship. Kalam played an integral role convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects. His research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in the 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile programme under his directorship. Kalam and Dr V S Arunachalam, metallurgist and scientific adviser to the Defence Minister, worked on the suggestion by the then Defence Minister, R. Venkataraman on a proposal for simultaneous development of a quiver of missiles instead of taking planned missiles one after another. R Venkatraman was instrumental in getting the cabinet approval for allocating ₹388 crores for the mission, named Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and appointed Kalam as the chief executive. Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the mission including Agni, an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithvi, the tactical surface-to-surface missile, although the projects have been criticised for mismanagement and cost and time overruns.
Kalam served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organisation from July 1992 to December 1999. The Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted during this period in which he played an intensive political and technological role. Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator, along with Rajagopala Chidambaram, during the testing phase. Media coverage of Kalam during this period made him the country's best known nuclear scientist. However, the director of the site test, K Santhanam, said that the thermonuclear bomb had been a "fizzle" and criticisied Kalam for issuing an incorrect report. Both Kalam and Chidambaram dismissed the claims.
In 1998, along with cardiologist Soma Raju, Kalam developed a low cost coronary stent, named the "Kalam-Raju Stent". In 2012, the duo designed a rugged tablet computer for health care in rural areas, which was named the "Kalam-Raju Tablet".
Kalam served as the 11th President of India, succeeding K. R. Narayanan. He won the 2002 presidential election with an electoral vote of 922,884, surpassing the 107,366 votes won by Lakshmi Sahgal. His term lasted from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007.
On 10 June 2002, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was in power at the time, expressed that they would nominate Kalam for the post of President, and both the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party backed his candidacy. After the Samajwadi Party announced its support for Kalam, Narayanan chose not to seek a second term in office, leaving the field clear. Kalam said of the announcement of his candidature:
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.
The polling for the presidential election began on 15 July 2002 in Parliament and the state assemblies, with the media claiming that the election was a one-sided affair and Kalam's victory was a foregone conclusion; the count was held on 18 July. Kalam became the 11th president of the Republic of India in an easy victory, and moved into the Rashtrapati Bhavan after he was sworn in on 25 July. Kalam was the third President of India to have been honoured with a Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, before becoming the President. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1954) and Dr Zakir Hussain (1963) were the earlier recipients of Bharat Ratna who later became the President of India. He was also the first scientist and the first bachelor to occupy Rashtrapati Bhawan.
During his term as president, he was affectionately known as the People's President, saying that signing the Office of Profit Bill was the toughest decision he had taken during his tenure. Kalam was criticised for his inaction in deciding the fate of 20 out of the 21 mercy petitions submitted to him during his tenure. Article 72 of the Constitution of India empowers the President of India to grant pardons, and suspend or commute the death sentence of convicts on death row. Kalam acted on only one mercy plea in his five-year tenure as president, rejecting the plea of rapist Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was later hanged. Perhaps the most notable plea was from Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri terrorist who was convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2004. While the sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006, the pending action on his mercy plea resulted in him remaining on death row. He also took the controversial decision to impose President's Rule in Bihar in 2005.
At the end of his term, on 20 June 2007, Kalam expressed his willingness to consider a second term in office provided there was certainty about his victory in the 2007 presidential election. However, two days later, he decided not to contest the Presidential election again stating that he wanted to avoid involving Rashtrapati Bhavan from any political processes. He did not have the support of the left parties, Shiv Sena and UPA constituents, to receive a renewed mandate.
Nearing the expiry of the term of the 12th President Pratibha Patil on 24 July 2012, media reports in April claimed that Kalam was likely to be nominated for his second term. After the reports, social networking sites were notable for people supporting his candidature. The BJP potentially backed his nomination, saying that the party would lend their support if the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and Indian National Congress proposed him for the 2012 presidential election. A month ahead of the election, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee also expressed their support for Kalam. Days afterwards, Mulayam Singh Yadav backed out, leaving Mamata Banerjee as the solitary supporter. On 18 June 2012, Kalam declined to contest the 2012 presidential poll. He said of his decision not to do so:
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.
After leaving office, Kalam became a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Management Indore, an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology Thiruvananthapuram, professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University and an adjunct at many other academic and research institutions across India. He taught information technology at the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.
In May 2012, Kalam launched a programme for the youth of India called the What Can I Give Movement, with a central theme of defeating corruption. He also enjoyed writing Tamil poetry and playing the veenai, a South Indian string instrument. Kalam listened to Carnatic devotional music every day and believed in the Hindu culture. Kalam used to read Bhagavad Gita and was a vegetarian. He was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and 2006. In the 2011 Hindi film I Am Kalam, Kalam is portrayed as a positive influence on a poor but bright Rajasthani boy named Chhotu, who renames himself Kalam in honour of his idol.
In 2011, Kalam was criticised by civil groups over his stand on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant; he supported the establishment of the nuclear power plant and was accused of not speaking with the local people. The protesters were hostile to his visit as they perceived to him to be a pro-nuclear scientist and were unimpressed by the assurances provided by him regarding the safety features of the plant.
On the evening of 27 July 2015, Kalam collapsed at around 6:30 p.m. while delivering a lecture on "The Livable Planet Earth" at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. He was rushed to Bethania Hospital in a critical condition and was placed in the intensive care unit, but was confirmed dead of a massive cardiac arrest more than two hours later. Kalam would have turned 84 in October 2015.
Following his death, Kalam's body was airlifted from Shillong to Guwahati in an Indian Air Force helicopter, from where it was flown to New Delhi on the morning of 28 July in an air force C-130J Hercules. The flight landed at Palam Air Base at 12:15 p.m, and was received by the President, the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the three service chiefs of the Indian Armed Forces, who laid wreaths on Kalam's body. His body was then placed on a gun carriage draped with the Indian flag and taken to his Delhi residence at 10 Rajaji Marg where numerous dignitaries paid homage, including former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Kalam's death was marked with an outpouring of grief in India, with numerous tributes made to the former President across the nation and on social media. The Government of India declared a seven-day state mourning period as a mark of respect. President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders condoled the former President's demise. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said "his [Kalam's] death is a great loss to the scientific community. He took India to great heights. He showed the way." Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who had served as prime minister under Kalam, said that with his death, "our country has lost a great human being who made phenomenal contributions to the promotion of self reliance in defence technologies. I worked very closely with Dr. Kalam as prime minister and I greatly benefited from his advice as president of our country. His life and work will be remembered for generations to come." The Dalai Lama expressed his sadness, offering condolences and prayers and calling Kalam's death "an irreparable loss". He also observed, "he 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."
South Asian leaders expressed condolences and lauded the late statesman. The Bhutanese government ordered the country's flags to fly at half-staff to mourn Kalam's death, and made an offering of 1000 butter lamps in homage. Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay expressed his deep sadness, saying Kalam "was a leader greatly admired by all people, especially the youth of India who have referred to him as the people’s President." Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described Kalam as "a rare combination of a great statesman, acclaimed scientist and a source of inspiration to the young generation of South Asia" and termed his death an "irreparable loss to India and beyond." She also said, "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." Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief Khaleda Zia said "as a nuclear scientist, he engaged himself in the welfare of the people." Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, called Kalam "an inspirational figure to millions of people," noting that "we have a lot to learn from his life." Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala recalled Kalam's scientific contributions to India. "Nepal has lost a good friend and I have lost an honoured and ideal personality." The President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, also expressed their grief and condolences on his passing. The President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, also expressed his condolences, saying, "Dr. Kalam was a man of firm conviction and indomitable spirit, and I saw him as an outstanding statesman of the world. His death is an irreparable loss not only to India but to the entire world."
Other international leaders, including former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai also paid tribute to Kalam. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his sincere condolences and conveyed his sympathy and support "to the near and dear ones of the deceased leader, to the government and entire people of India." He remarked on Kalam's outstanding "personal contribution to the social, economic, scientific and technical progress of India and in ensuring its national security," adding that Dr. Kalam would be remembered as a "consistent exponent of closer friendly relations between our nations, who has done a lot for cementing mutually beneficial Russian-Indian cooperation." Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, which Kalam had visited on numerous occasions, expressed her "deepest condolences...as a respected scientist, he played a critical role in the development of the Indian space program. As a committed educator, he inspired millions of young people to achieve their very best. And as a devoted leader, he gained support both at home and abroad, becoming known as "the people's President." I join our Indo-Canadian families, friends and neighbours in mourning the passing of this respected leader." U.S. President Barack Obama stated, "On behalf of the American people, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the people of India on the passing of former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. A scientist and statesman, Dr. Kalam rose from humble beginnings to become one of India’s most accomplished leaders, earning esteem at home and abroad. An advocate for stronger U.S.-India relations, Dr. Kalam worked to deepen our space cooperation, forging links with NASA during a 1962 visit to the United States. His tenure as India’s 11th president witnessed unprecedented growth in U.S.-India ties. Suitably named “the People’s President,” Dr. Kalam’s humility and dedication to public service served as an inspiration to millions of Indians and admirers around the world."" The U.S. Ambassador to India, Rich Verma, on behalf of the State Department, expressed his "condolences to the Indian people on the passing of former President Dr. Abdul Kalam, an inspiring scientist and leader."
In his book India 2020, Kalam strongly advocated an action plan to develop India into a "knowledge superpower" and a developed nation by the year 2020. He regarded his work on India's nuclear weapons programme as a way to assert India's place as a future superpower
I have identified five areas where India has a core competence for integrated action: (1) agriculture and food processing; (2) education and healthcare; (3) information and communication technology; (4) infrastructure, reliable and quality electric power, surface transport and infrastructure for all parts of the country; and (5) self-reliance in critical technologies. These five areas are closely inter-related and if advanced in a coordinated way, will lead to food, economic and national security.
It was reported that there was considerable demand in South Korea for translated versions of books authored by him.
Kalam took an active interest in other developments in the field of science and technology, including a research programme for developing bio-implants. He also supported Open Source technology over proprietary solutions, predicting that the use of free software on a large scale would bring the benefits of information technology to more people.
Kalam set a target of interacting with 100,000 students during the two years after his resignation from the post of scientific adviser in 1999. He explained, "I feel comfortable in the company of young people, particularly high school students. Henceforth, I intend to share with them experiences, helping them to ignite their imagination and preparing them to work for a developed India for which the road map is already available."
Awards and honours
Kalam's 79th birthday was recognised as World Student Day by the United Nations. He has also received honorary doctorates from 40 universities. The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1981 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1990 for his work with ISRO and DRDO and his role as a scientific advisor to the Government. In 1997, Kalam received India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for his contribution to the scientific research and modernisation of defence technology in India. In 2005, Switzerland declared 26 May as "Science Day" to commemorate Kalam's visit to the country. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Von Braun Award from the National Space Society "to recognize excellence in the management and leadership of a space-related project."
Books and documentaries
- Kalam's writings
- Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology by A P J Abdul Kalam and Roddam Narasimha; Indian Academy of Sciences, 1988
- India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium by A P J Abdul Kalam, Y S Rajan; New York, 1998.
- Wings of Fire: An Autobiography by A P J Abdul Kalam, Arun Tiwari; Universities Press, 1999.
- Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India by A P J Abdul Kalam; Viking, 2002.
- The Luminous Sparks by A P J Abdul Kalam, by; Punya Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2004.
- Mission India by A P J Abdul Kalam, Paintings by Manav Gupta; Penguin Books, 2005
- Inspiring Thoughts by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal & Sons, 2007
- Indomitable Spirit by A P J Abdul Kalam; Rajpal and Sons Publishing
- Envisioning an Empowered Nation by A P J Abdul Kalam with A Sivathanu Pillai; Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi
- You Are Born To Blossom: Take My Journey Beyond by A P J Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari; Ocean Books, 2011.
- Turning Points: A journey through challenges by A P J Abdul Kalam; Harper Collins India, 2012.
- Target 3 Billion" by A P J Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh; December 2011 | Publisher Penguin Books.
- My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions by A P J Abdul Kalam; August 2013 by the Rupa Publication.
- A Manifesto for Change: A Sequel to India 2020 by A P J Abdul Kalam and V Ponraj; July 2014 by Harper Collins.
- Forge your Future: Candid, Forthright, Inspiring by A P J Abdul Kalam; by Rajpal and Sons, 29 October 2014.
- Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Brighter Future by A P J Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh; by Penguin India, 14 May 2015.
- Transcendence My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji by A P J Abdul Kalam; June 2015 by Harper Collins India Publication.
- Eternal Quest: Life and Times of Dr Kalam by S Chandra; Pentagon Publishers, 2002.
- President A P J Abdul Kalam by R K Pruthi; Anmol Publications, 2002.
- A P J Abdul Kalam: The Visionary of India by K Bhushan, G Katyal; A P H Pub Corp, 2002.
- A Little Dream (documentary film) by P. Dhanapal; Minveli Media Works Private Limited, 2008.
- The Kalam Effect: My Years with the President by P M Nair; Harper Collins, 2008.
- My Days With Mahatma Abdul Kalam by Fr A K George; Novel Corporation, 2009.
- "Kalam And Islam".
- editor; Ramchandani, vice president Dale Hoiberg; editor South Asia, Indu (2000). A to C (Abd Allah ibn al-Abbas to Cypress). New Delhi: Encyclopædia Britannica (India). p. 2. ISBN 978-0-85229-760-5.
- Pruthi, R. K. (2005). "Ch. 4. Missile Man of India". President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Anmol Publications. pp. 61–76. ISBN 978-81-261-1344-6.
- Sen, Amartya (2003). "India and the Bomb". In M. V. Ramana and C. Rammanohar Reddy. Prisoners of the Nuclear Dream. Sangam Books. pp. 167–188. ISBN 978-81-250-2477-4.
- "Dr Abdul Kalam, People's President in Sri Lanka". Daily News via HighBeam Research. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- Kalam, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul; Tiwari, Arun (1 January 1999). Wings of Fire: An Autobiography. Universities Press. ISBN 978-81-7371-146-6. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- Jai, Janak Raj (1 January 2003). Presidents of India, 1950–2003. Regency Publications. p. 296. ISBN 978-81-87498-65-0. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "Bio-data: Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
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- "The greatest student India ever had".
- Sharma, Mahesh; Das, P.K.; Bhalla, P. (2004). Pride of the Nation : Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 13. ISBN 978-81-288-0806-7. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- Bhushan, K.; Katyal, G. (2002). A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: The Visionary of India. New Delhi: A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. pp. 1–10,153. ISBN 9788176483803.
- K. Raju; S. Annamalai (24 September 2006). "Kalam meets the teacher who moulded him". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Dixit, Sumita Vaid (18 March 2010). "The boy from Rameswaram who became President". Rediff.com. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
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- Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc. (November 1989). Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, Inc. pp. 32–. ISSN 0096-3402. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- "Missile Chronology, 1971–1979" (PDF). James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey Institute of International Studies, Nuclear Threat Initiative. July 2003. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- "The prime motivator". Frontline. 22 June – 5 July 2002. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
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- Jerome M. Conley (2001). Indo-Russian military and nuclear cooperation: lessons and options for U.S. policy in South Asia. Lexington Books. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-7391-0217-6. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
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- "Story of indigenous stents". The Hindu-Businessline (India). 15 August 2001.
- "The stent man". Rediff-News (India). 19 December 1998.
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- "Honorary Fellowship of IISc". Iisc.ernet.in. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
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