Episode 283: The Forgotten Greatness of PV Narasimha Rao

If leaders are to be judged by their actions, PV Narasimha Rao was our tallest leader. Vinay Sitapati joins Amit Varma in episode 283 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how Rao showed  conviction and political skill in going against the tides of the day to enable the 1991 reforms, which brought hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 282: Naushad Forbes Wants to Fix India

He’s been an academic who’s studied the country, and a businessman who’s created wealth and jobs. Now he wants to help India achieve its potential. Naushad Forbes joins Amit Varma in episode 282 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life and learnings — and the roadmap that can help India lift its citizens.

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Episode 281: From Cairo to Delhi With Max Rodenbeck

He grew up in Cairo, spent many years writing on the Middle East, saw the Arab Spring coming, and was bureau chief of the Economist in South Asia. Max Rodenbeck joins Amit Varma in episode 281 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his experiences in journalism, the lessons he learnt in India, and the troubling ways in which it resembles Egypt.

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Episode 280: Manjima Bhattacharjya: The Making of a Feminist

The world is changing for women — but is it getting better? Manjima Bhattacharjya joins Amit Varma in episode 280 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe her journey as a feminist and why she believes in the long arc. She also talks about her book Intimate City, and the changing face of sex work in India.

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Episode 279: Abhijit Bhaduri Breaks the Algorithm

If you make space for serendipity in your life, good things happen. Abhijit Bhaduri joins Amit Varma in episode 279 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his journey from the corporate life to the creator economy — and the lessons he learnt along the way.

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Episode 278: Climate Change and Our Power Sector

To fight climate change, we need to reform the power sector. Right now, it’s dysfunctional. Akshay Jaitly and Ajay Shah join Amit Varma in episode 278 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their roadmap for change.

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Episode 277: The Rooted Cosmopolitanism of Sugata Srinivasaraju

He grew up breathing Kannada literature — and he also embraced the globalised world. Sugata Srinivasaraju joins Amit Varma in episode 277 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss this confluence of the old and the new, the near and the far, his society and the world.

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Episode 276: The Incredible Curiosities of Mukulika Banerjee

How did one of the greatest nonviolent movements in history emerge from within the supposedly violent Pathans of the wild frontier? Why do poor people in India vote even though there seems to be no point to it? Why does an ancient garment like the sari endure — but democracy seem in peril? Mukulika Banerjee joins Amit Varma in episode 276 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the questions that kept her up at night — and the lessons they hold for us.

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Episode 275: Hussain Haidry, Hindustani Musalmaan

We live in times when all Indian Muslims are forced to be aware of their Muslimness. Hussain Haidry joins Amit Varma in episode 275 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life, his art and these difficult times we live in.

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Episode 274: Two-and-a-Half Bengalis Have an Economics Adda

India is in bad shape. Bad economics is one reason why. Economists Rajeswari Sengupta and Shrayana Bhattacharya join Amit Varma in episode 274 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock of the mess. You don’t like dissent? Too bad. We’re Bongs, and you cannot shut us up.

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Episode 273: Warren Mendonsa Plays the Universal Pentatonic

He’s that Blackstratblues guy. He’s done rock, blues, sessions work for Bollywood, and you can’t put him in a box. Indie music legend Warren Mendonsa joins Amit Varma and guest co-host Chuck Gopal in episode 273 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his career, how he only aims to make music that makes him happy, and the common thread that binds us all.

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Episode 272: The Ferment of Our Founders

Our freedom fighters didn’t just fight the British. They also grappled with each other in the marketplace of ideas and actions. Shruti Kapila joins Amit Varma in episode 272 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how so many of our founders were also innovative political philosophers — and how we still fight their battles today.

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Episode 271: Crossing Over With Deepak Shenoy

Deepak Shenoy wants to ask Amit Varma about the creator economy. Amit wants to talk to Deepak about finance and his new book. Episode 271 of The Seen and the Unseen is a crossover episode with the Capital Mind Podcast in which Amit and Deepak get a jugalbandi going.

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Episode 270: Aakar Patel Is Full of Hope

Things are bad — so bad that he’s written two books about it. Aakar Patel joins Amit Varma in episode 270 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss politics, the media and his reasons for being hopeful in spite of all the doom and gloom.

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Episode 269: The Life and Times of Nirupama Rao

A lifetime in diplomacy gave Nirupama Rao an inside view of the making of the first draft of history. She joins Amit Varma in episode 269 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her life lessons — and what still keeps her buzzing every day.

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Episode 268: Russia, Ukraine, Foreign Policy

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just a seminal moment in world history, but a teachable one. Pranay Kotasthane and Nitin Pai join Amit Varma in episode 268 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss concepts and frameworks of foreign policy that can help us make sense of this turmoil.

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Episode 267: Dhanya Rajendran Fights the Gaze

Indian mainstream media tends to see our country with the gaze of a privileged North Indian man. That is changing. Dhanya Rajendran joins Amit Varma in episode 267 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her journey in setting up The News Minute, and in deepening our journalism and the conversations we have.

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Episode 266: Ram Guha Reflects on His Life

Historians write about the lives of others — but what about their own journeys? Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 266 of The Seen and the Unseen to reflect on his notion of home, how he got from there to here, and the strange dreams that sometimes come.

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Episode 265: Amitava Kumar Finds the Breath of Life

Life is beautiful, but we are too busy to notice. Writing is one way to capture the world, and to make our journey memorable. Amitava Kumar joins Amit Varma in episode 265 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his journey as an author, journalist, artist, Instagrammer — and to explain the joys of slow-jamming the news.

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Episode 264: Barun Mitra, Philosopher and Practitioner

Intellectuals need to get out of their ivory towers and take their ideas to the people, learning from them in the process. Barun Mitra joins Amit Varma in episode 264 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss what he learnt from his decades combining reflection and activism.

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Episode 263: The Life and Times of Mrinal Pande

Mrinal Pande, older than our republic, was writing from a time when it was felt that “a woman writing was like a dog walking on two hind legs.” She joins Amit Varma in episode 263 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her learnings from a life in literature. Subjects discussed include our society, our languages, gender, politics and the state of our media.

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Episode 262: Nehru’s Debates

There was a time when our leaders dived into the public discourse and embraced the world of ideas. Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain join Amit Varma in episode 262 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe four debates that Jawaharlal Nehru entered with Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Patel and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. These old debates matter today, because those ideas are still being contested.

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Episode 261: Rukmini Sees India’s Multitudes

You may think you have India figured out — but do you? Rukmini S joins Amit Varma in episode 261 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about the many layers of India she has uncovered by looking closely at data, and the stories that lie beneath.

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Episode 260: Sneaky Artist Sees the World

What we mean by art has changed in modern times — and there has never been a better time to be an artist. Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist joins Amit Varma in episode 260 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his journey, and to share his insights on the creator economy.

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Episode 259: The Loneliness of the Indian Woman

Indian women are lonely in the bedroom, lonely in the kitchen, lonely in the workplace. Shrayana Bhattacharya joins Amit Varma in episode 259 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the interior and exterior lives of these unseen millions.

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Episode 258: The Universe of Chuck Gopal

There has never been a better time to be a creator — but you need to be productive to make use of it! Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka Chuck Gopal joins Amit Varma in episode 258 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his journey, and to share his learnings on creation and productivity.

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Episode 257: Objects Speak to Annapurna Garimella

The world is what it is — but no one knows what that is, and we all see different worlds. Designer and art historian Annapurna Garimella joins Amit Varma in episode 257 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe her passage of seeing, remembering, reflecting.

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Episode 256: Pramit Bhattacharya Believes in Just One Ism

Data has no ideology, and journalists should always be guided by skepticism. Pramit Bhattacharya joins Amit Varma in episode 256 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his journey learning the craft and the values of analytical journalism.

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Episode 255: Sara Rai Inhales Literature

In India, we inhabit many worlds, and we live in many languages, many literatures. Sara Rai joins Amit Varma in episode 255 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her rich life learning to write, learning to read, learning to live.

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Episode 254: The Life and Times of Abhinandan Sekhri

He carried cables on a film set. He teamed up with friends named Arvind and Manish to save Delhi. He started a media company that said Boo to advertisers. Abhinandan Sekhri joins Amit Varma in episode 254 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about the many things he’s learned during his rich and unconventional life.

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Episode 253: Our Parliament and Our Democracy

A democracy is not just about voting, The rules of the game have to protect individuals, and institutions have to keep the government accountable. MR Madhavan joins Amit Varma in episode 253 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his efforts at empowering MPs and MLAs with knowledge — and why we should not lose hope in our nation.

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Episode 252: The State of Our Economy

Winter is here.The pandemic has receded, but our economy was already in bad shape before Covid struck, which made it plummet further. Where do we stand now? Can we recover? Puja Mehra and Mohit Satyanand join Amit Varma in episode 252 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock.

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Episode 251: Amit Schandillia, History Communicator

History is often told in such a boring way that it might as well not have happened. And then, there are those who bring it so alive that the present seems so much clearer. Amit Schandillia joins Amit Varma in episode 251 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how his historical storytelling made him a Twitter sensation — and why both history and storytelling matter in these times.

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Episode 250: Narendra Shenoy and Mr Narendra Shenoy

Narendra Shenoy and Mr Narendra Shenoy are cult figures who transcend the universe of ordinary podcast guests. One of them, a renowned storyteller, joins Amit Varma in episode 250 of The Seen and the Unseen. Which one? Who knows? Schrödinger’s Shenoy.

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Episode 249: Dial C For Snehal Pradhan

C is for Cricket. C is also for Creator. Snehal Pradhan, former fast bowler for the Indian team and current superstar creator, joins Amit Varma in episode 249 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her insights on both these ecosystems.

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Episode 248: The Decline of the Congress

The Congress Party once dominated Indian politics. Today, it’s on the outside looking in. Rahul Verma joins Amit Varma in episode 248 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the complex social and political factors behind this massive decline.

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Episode 247: The Business of Winning Elections

Our political parties suck at governance but excel at narratives, as that’s what wins them elections. Shivam Shankar Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 247 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his experiences at the heart of different political machines.

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Episode 246: The Life and Times of Ayaz Memon

Over the last few decades, India has changed, cricket has changed, our media has changed — and one man has seen it all. Ayaz Memon joins Amit Varma in episode 246 of The Seen and the Unseen to reflect on some of what he has seen and learnt.

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Episode 245: The Dark Side of Indian Pharma

When we pick up medicine from our nearby chemist, we assume that we are getting what we pay for. That trust may be misplaced. Dinesh Thakur joins Amit Varma in episode 245 of The Seen and the Unseen to share the story of the Ranbaxy fraud, and the shoddy state of Indian pharma today.

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Episode 244: The Multitudes of Our Maharajahs

India’s Maharajahs get a bad rap. Both the British empire and our freedom fighters pushed wrong stereotypes about them. Manu Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 244 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about the multitudes of our maharajahs — and much else that matters.

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Episode 243: The Barkha Dutt Files

In the last 25 years, India has changed, journalism has changed and Barkha Dutt has been at the frontlines. She joins Amit Varma in episode 243 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about how we got here, and the lessons of these years.

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