Episode 175: The Indian Armed Forces

As institutions wither around us, the Indian Armed Forces have retained their credibility. But is there a risk of politicization there as well? Lt Gen Prakash Menon joins Amit Varma in episode 175 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the evolution of our armed forces through the decades, and the challenges they face today.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 174: Tawaif

Tawaifs played a unique role in Indian society and culture in the 19th century, but have since been either vilified or romanticized. Filmmaker and author Saba Dewan joins Amit Varma in episode 174 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the fascinating human stories behind this lost community.

Read show notesEpisode 174: Tawaif

Episode 173: The Resonance of Akbar

So much of our history has been weaponized by politics — especially the Mughal period. Manimugdha Sharma joins Amit Varma in episode 173 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on the tug of war around Emperor Akbar — and why that history remains relevant even today.

Read show notesEpisode 173: The Resonance of Akbar

Episode 172: The Many Cities of Delhi

There is much more to Delhi than Old Delhi and New Delhi. The stones bear witness to a rich history, with much drama and tumult. Rana Safvi joins Amit Varma in episode 172 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how the forgotten past of Delhi continues to shape its present.

Read show notesEpisode 172: The Many Cities of Delhi

Episode 171: India’s Start-Up Ecosystem

Many entrepreneurs aim to plug a hole in the world. Some try to expand the universe. Mohit Satyanand joins Amit Varma in episode 171 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about why these are exciting times to be an angel investor.

Read show notesEpisode 171: India’s Start-Up Ecosystem

Episode 170: Foreign Policy is a Big Deal

So much of the lives of common people depends on the relationships between nations. But is foreign policy an arcane subject, meant only for wonks and elites? No! Pranay Kotasthane and Manoj Kewalramani join Amit Varma in episode 170 of The Seen and the Unseen to demystify international relations.

Read show notesEpisode 170: Foreign Policy is a Big Deal

Episode 169: Taking Stock of Covid-19

How should India handle Covid-19? Every option on the table carries huge costs, and will take countless lives. Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 169 of The Seen and the Unseen to help navigate the complex decisions that policy makers are being forced to make with little information.

Read show notesEpisode 169: Taking Stock of Covid-19

Episode 168: The Art of Translation

There are over 6000 languages in the world. How can we possibly understand one another? Arunava Sinha joins Amit Varma in episode 168 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the importance of translation, and literature itself, in these divisive times.

Read show notesEpisode 168: The Art of Translation

Episode 167: India’s Greatest Civil Servant

In 1906, a 13-year-old boy burnt down his school in a village in Kerala and ran away from home to work in the gold mines of Kolar. Decades later, he put this country together. Narayani Basu joins Amit Varma in episode 167 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the extraordinary life of VP Menon.

Read show notesEpisode 167: India’s Greatest Civil Servant

Episode 166: Nanak Was Here

The man known as Guru Nanak was one of the great travellers of his time, passing through lands that are today spread across nine countries. Amardeep Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 166 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how he retraced Nanak’s path — and also about his efforts at documenting the Sikh heritage of Pakistan.

Read show notesEpisode 166: Nanak Was Here

Episode 165: Genetic Engineering

Humans are the only bots with the ability to reprogram themselves. Shambhavi Naik joins Amit Varma in episode 165 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the science, ethics, politics and policy implications of genetic engineering.

Read show notesEpisode 165: Genetic Engineering

Episode 164: The Ideas of Our Constitution

Contrary to popular belief, the Indian constitution was not a copy-paste job without a vision. It emerged from decades of intellectual ferment. Madhav Khosla joins Amit Varma in episode 164 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe the history of the key ideas that drove our founders and shaped our constitution.

Read show notesEpisode 164: The Ideas of Our Constitution

Episode 163: Who Broke Our Republic?

Seven decades after Independence, India is still wracked by poverty and strife. Who is responsible? Kapil Komireddi joins Amit Varma in episode 163 of The Seen and the Unseen to excoriate every political player of Independent India. No prisoners taken.

Read show notesEpisode 163: Who Broke Our Republic?

Episode 162: Caste, Gender, Karnatik Music

So much of our culture is shaped by our social fault lines. TM Krishna joins Amit Varma in episode 162 of The Seen and the Unseen to peel the layers off the development of Karnatik music — and Indian society itself.

Read show notesEpisode 162: Caste, Gender, Karnatik Music

Episode 161: The History of Desire in India

We may be a sexually repressed country today, but it wasn’t always like this. Madhavi Menon joins Amit Varma in episode 161 of The Seen and the Unseen to elaborate on the infinite variety of our desires all through history.

Read show notesEpisode 161: The History of Desire in India

Episode 158: Radically Networked Societies

From the Arab Spring to Shaheen Bagh, radically networked societies are rising up to express themselves. What do they have in common? How will a hierarchical state deal with a networked society? Pranay Kotasthane shares his insights with Amit Varma in episode 158 of The Seen and the Unseen.

Read show notesEpisode 158: Radically Networked Societies

Episode 157: Taking Stock of Our Republic

India has endured — but as we celebrate another Republic Day, we must remember that we cannot take this for granted. Historian Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 157 of The Seen and the Unseen to examine some of the currents of history that brought us here, and are still in flux.

Read show notesEpisode 157: Taking Stock of Our Republic

Episode 156: Kerala and the Ivory Throne

Kerala has a madly interesting history. It was a hub of globalisation centuries ago, an exemplar of tolerance. Almost in contrast, it took casteism to an extreme. It also had a matrilineal system, a tradition of empowered women, and some badass queens. Historian Manu Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 156 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss all this and more.

Read show notesEpisode 156: Kerala and the Ivory Throne

Episode 155: Films, Feminism, Paromita

Immense changes have swept through our lives in the last three decades. Filmmaker and writer Paromita Vohra joins Amit Varma in episode 155 of The Seen and the Unseen, and turns her unique gaze both inwards and outwards.

Read show notesEpisode 155: Films, Feminism, Paromita