Wings of fire written by APJ Abdul Kalam who became President of India later can not strictly be classified as an autobiography. It is neither a biography.The book was actually written by Arun Tiwari and he explains the whole story as he heard it from Abdul Kalam.The book essentially speaks about truthful and most sincere efforts of Indian scientists in making nothing less than a guided missile!! .We have our communists who bring forward their theories such as imperialist USA sells missile technology to India and Pakistan. We have our ever doubtful people who would simply say that such thing like missile technology, and guided missiles at that would not be possible to us. We have amongst us, so many of us have the ’’slave mentality” injected in to our blood by the British ruler’s long back. It is simply carries on in our blood, in our thinking pattern because the education system and even the examination system were largely set up by them. Our beurocrats behaviour (they behave like they are different from people of India) is the best example of our slave behaviour.
And we have our uncle shams (Americans) writing in journals that Mr. Abdul Kalam had stolen guided missile technology from them, (did he secretly steal it the way holly wood hero would steal in Hollywood films) when he was on visit to USA.Abdul Kalam mentions the fact that at the point of time when he visited USA, the Americans themselves did not have a guided missile technology!! It was such an old story any way.Americans could not digest the fact that Indian’s finally developed a guided missile on their own!! In this book we read many more interesting facts like for example how our scientists under his leadership (DRDL) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam at Hyderabad developed the all important nose of the missile.
The nose of the missile houses the computer and that is how it could guide the missile on its trajectory. But the point is the nose gets intense heat of some hundred of degree centigrade and a computer can not be placed there. The book gives detailed account of how Govt.of.India tried to purchase this “nose” material from USA and how USA quoted a price so high that we can make 10 missiles and still we can afford to throw them in to the sea just for testing !!.
Abdul Kalam decided to prepare the nose and starts the adventure. It is largely due to the persistence, vision and adventure to take the risks that finally Indian scientists prepared the nose with a material far superior than USA scientists now using and also it is extremely cheap compared to the ones prepared by any country so far. It is light weight and can be used for artificial limbs etc (prosthetics) and high heat resistant.
The book has got sense of humour as well.At no point Abdul Kalam tries to portray himself great or as some one ’’sat there and invented the missile’’ or ’’ had drawn a design for missile on a paper and lesser mortals like you and I fitted the missile with screw and driver’’.The book gives you a glimpse of how the defense ministry is sometimes totally insensitive to an emotional needs of the scientists. For example Abdul Kalam personally designs rockets to be fitted to Sukhoi fighter planes so that they can take off and land on shorter runways. But there was no jubilation or the creative satisfaction for him because the Govt. simply announced that the ’’Russians would fit them (in their country and their rockets)”. There were many other instances of this nature. Abdul Kalam says “you do not know how painful it would be to a scientist”.
The book is a must read for every student who might otherwise brainwashed by our “slave minded protagonists”. It is very important for the students because they will know by reading this book, how DRDL recruited young engineers from university campuses in and around Hyderabad and other cities to make nothing less than a guided missile !! .