While we find many who only stick to their daily work routine throughout their career not going beyond their call of duty, here is a government official who stands out. Meet G S Unnikrishnan Nair, Deputy Director in the Department of Agriculture, Kerala, who is on a mission to popularise science among the masses. A popular science writer, science fiction writer, children’s writer, farm journalist, science film maker and novelist in Malayalam, he has won 7 National awards and 8 State Awards for his work on science popularisation through print and electronic media. We present his success story.
(Cover Photo – G S Unnikrishnan Nair receiving National Science Communication Award of Dept. Of Science and Technology, Govt. Of India, from Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Cabinet Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences in March 2017)
Unnikrishnan had a flare for writing essays, stories and poems during his School and College days. He graduated in Agriculture from Banaras Hindu University in 1986 and joined Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala as an Agricultural Officer. During those days, some major newspapers in Malayalam used to carry weekly farm feature columns. He realized that these columns are apt for his entry into Agri Science communication. So he started sending articles to one particular Newspaper having good readership.
Foray into Farm Journalism
The articles and features published in these columns were mostly stereo-typed and theoretical such as; how to plant, how to manure, how to control pests, etc. Unnikrishnan thought of bringing some humane touch by writing success stories of farmers, new developments in farming sector, nutritional / medicinal qualities of agricultural produce, agro processing techniques etc. After initial apprehensions, the Editor finally got convinced with Unnikrishnan’s vision and it turned out to be a huge success as his articles generated tremendous response than the ones published before.
Initially, my articles were either rejected or cut short and carried in an unimportant manner by the newspaper. This was little disgusting. But I didn’t give up.
G S Unnikrishnan Nair
Soon, he became the leading writer in the Agri column of that Newspaper. Subsequently, other Newspapers and magazines in Malayalam also started demanding his articles. Within a year, he became one of the leading farm journalists in Malayalam. Subsequently, he also did a PG in Journalism and Mass Communication and apart from writing features, he was assigned columns in a leading Newspaper in Malayalam, Mathrubhumi and two farm magazines. He is continuing with them even today.
Foray into Popularising Science
During early 1990’s one of the leading Newspapers in Malayalam began to publish Popular Science column. However, the articles published then were highly technical and less interesting. Unnikrishnan felt that the column should also carry Science features that one can relate to in our daily life and surroundings rather than bookish and highly technical ones. He wrote a simple article about the Science behind the creatures in our homestead and approached the Editor of the column. After a bit of convincing, the Editor liked the idea and shortly he became a regular contributor in the science column of not only this newspaper but also in other newspapers.
By 2012, most of the newspapers started publishing children’s columns written mostly by teachers. But the writing style of most of the teachers was highly bookish and they used to write mostly about the syllabus related topics that the children found boring. Here, as well, Unnikrishnan was able to convince the editors that these columns should expand children’s knowledge beyond the curriculum and the articles should be written in a very interesting writing style with photos, drawings, cartoons, etc. His creativity and artwork was very much liked by children and soon he became one of the leading writers in Children’s columns as well.
Science popularisation is a passion for me and I enjoy doing it.
G S Unnikrishnan Nair
Foray into Filmmaking
Thiruvananthapuram Doordarsan had started telecast of Farming based programmes since 1987. But the programmes were shot indoor covering mostly discussions with experts of the field. Unnikrishnan believed that the impact out of these programmes can be huge if done in a right manner. Along with some of his friends, he formed a group and proposed the production of outdoor programmes on progressive farmers. He underwent a training in video production at EEI, Hyderabad specially for this as well. The proposal was accepted by the authorities and thus he got an entry into visual media. By 2010, he completed over 200 episodes of the farm serial, telecast through Thiruvananthapuram Doordarsan. In 2010, he also got an offer to produce some English documentaries on popular science subjects and this resulted in his entry into National Documentary festivals.
Achievements of G S Unnikrishnan Nair
♦ 7 National Awards and 8 State Awards for Science Popularization through print and electronic Media
♦ Authored over 2000 popular science articles, farm features, science stories, etc.
♦ Author of 40 books for adult readers as well as children. Some even sold up to 20,000 copies
♦ Translated English books into Malayalam including some published by the Discovery Channel
♦ Authored the first horror science fiction in Malayalam – “Chimera”
♦ His novel “Planet Red” has the distinction of being first science fiction novel to be published in a children’s weekly in Malayalam.
♦ Scripted and directed over 250 television documentaries.
Science popularisation activity has given me lot of glory that I haven’t even dreamed of. My mission for this life is popularisation of Science among masses of this country and I will try my best to fulfill it.
G S Unnikrishnan Nair
His family, especially his mother and wife have been very supportive which has helped him to overcome all the challenges that has come his way. As a Writer and Film maker, he had the privilege to interact with many individuals in his life, right from kids to farmers and scientists. Many of them have become his good friends and this, he feels, is one of the greatest achievements in his life. He strongly believes that whatever he has earned is by the grace of God only and he is just the tool. This belief carries him forward to new heights and newer horizons.