Its an honor sir to be in the same room with you. What you have done for our country is impeccable. And I would like to ask you a few questions.
Thank you young Padawan, lets move forward with the interview.
For the young, to-be aerospace scientists, as inspiration, what was your biggest achievement?
In 1969 I moved to the Indian Space Research Organization, where I was project director of the SLV-III, the first satellite launch vehicle that was both designed and produced in India. Rejoining DRDO in 1982, I planned the program that produced a number of successful missiles, which helped me earn the nickname “Missile Man.” Among those successes was Agni, India’s first intermediate-range ballistic missile, which incorporated aspects of the SLV-III and was launched in 1989.
From 1992 to 1997 I was scientific adviser to the defense minister, and I later served as principal scientific adviser (1999–2001) to the government with the rank of cabinet minister.
What did you do after your massive success?
My prominent role in the country’s 1998 nuclear weapons tests solidified India as a nuclear power and established me as a national hero, although the tests caused great concern in the international community. In 1998 I put forward a countrywide plan called Technology Vision 2020, which I described as a road map for transforming India from a less-developed to a developed society in 20 years. The plan called for, among other measures, increasing agricultural productivity, emphasizing technology as a vehicle for economic growth, and widening access to health care and education.
In 2002 India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) put me to succeed outgoing President Kocheril Raman Narayanan.I was nominated by the Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) NDA even though I was Muslim, and my stature and popular appeal were such that even the main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, also proposed his candidacy. I easily won the election and was sworn in as India’s 11th president, a largely ceremonial post, in July 2002. I left office at the end of his term in 2007 and was succeeded by Pratibha Patil, the country’s first woman president.
Thank you so much sir for your valuable time, it was truly an honor.