Episode 221: Science and Covid-19

These are difficult times. How do we make sense of what is happening around us? Well, there is science. Anirban Mahapatra joins Amit Varma in episode 221 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights on the science of Covid-19 — and on the state of science and scientific writing in general.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 220: The Sharda Ugra Files

India has changed so much in the last 30 years — and so has Indian sport. One of our finest chroniclers, Sharda Ugra, joins Amit Varma in episode 220 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about sports journalism, cricket, other Indian sports, and how she has embraced both the sublime and the shady. Also discussed: the eternal charm of Sion, Atul Bedade, gorillas and paagal kuttas.

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Episode 219: Keeping India Safe

There are many things that threaten our nation, both internal and external, both seen and unseen. Our armed forces protect us from some of them. Sushant Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 219 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the state of our military, his experiences in Kashmir, the threats from Pakistan and China, and the danger of politics to national security.

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Episode 218: A Creator of the Floating World

The world of creators has changed in the last few years — and maybe advertising is dead? Varun Duggirala joins Amit Varma in episode 218 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his journey as a creator in the world of advertising — and the time he kidnapped people for reality television.

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Episode 217: The Prem Panicker Files

Prem Panicker has been raising hell in Indian journalism for over 30 years: A muckraker and a pioneer, a maverick and an elder statesman, he is loved by fans and feared by the establishment. Prem joins Amit Varma in episode 217 of The Seen and the Unseen for a raw and intimate account of the wounds he got from living, and the lessons he learnt while healing.

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Episode 216: Being Muslim in India

What is it like to be Muslim in India? Ghazala Wahab joins Amit Varma in episode 216 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss.the history of Islam in the subcontinent — and how, at this present moment, we may be trapped in a vicious circle.

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Episode 215: A Writer Learns to See

There is so much about India that is unseen to us, hidden behind layers of blindness. If only we could peel them off. Annie Zaidi joins Amit Varma in episode 215 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how her many years as a writer, blogger, journalist, playwright and filmmaker deepened her vision of our world.

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Episode 214: Raghu Sanjaylal Jaitley’s Father’s Scooter

India is a complex country. The last few decades have been full of tumult. How does one make sense of it all? Raghu Sanjaylal Jaitley joins Amit Varma in episode 214 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the many frames he uses to look at our politics, economics, culture and Dilip Kumar.

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Episode 213: A Venture Capitalist Looks at the World

VCs have a crazy job description. They need to understand society, figure out what people will want tomorrow and bet on the future. Sajith Pai joins Amit Varma in episode 213 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his frames of looking at the world — and what he has learnt about media, entrepreneurship and this country of ours.

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Episode 212: Pandemonium in India’s Banks

India’s financial system has been in crisis for more than a decade — and it affects all of us. Tamal Bandyopadhyay joins Amit Varma in episode 212 of The Seen and the Unseen to make sense of all the turbulence.

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Episode 211: The Tragedy of Our Farm Bills

Our agriculture needs reform — but we should be wary that our attempt to get there is not at the cost of our democracy. Ajay Shah joins Amit Varma in episode 211 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights on the process, content and implication of the farm bills. Also discussed: knowledge assimilation, public health, how we tackled the pandemic and what we can do going forward.

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Episode 210: Feeding the Hungry in the Pandemic

A virus can kill you — and so can hunger. The lockdown last year led to an explosion of hunger around the country. Where the state failed, civil society stepped in. Ruben Mascarenhas joins Amit Varma in episode 210 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his initiative, Khaana Chahiye, that fed lakhs of people in Mumbai. Also discussed: activism, local politics and the clash between principles and the will to power.

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Episode 209: Two Girls Hanging From a Tree

In 2014, a photograph of two girls hanging from a tree in an Indian village went viral. Sonia Faleiro joins Amit Varma in episode 209 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the years she spent researching their story, and the complex layers of truth she uncovered. And also, how the larger crime is the one our society commits on itself.

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Episode 208: Lessons in Investing (and Life)

Is the stock market an engine of our economy or a casino disconnected from reality? Does it require deep thinking or mad gambling? Deepak Shenoy joins Amit Varma in episode 208 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the lessons he has learnt about the markets — and about life.

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Episode 207: Religion, Food, Indian Society

God is a controversial subject, but we can all agree that food exists, and is often divine. Shoba Narayan joins Amit Varma in episode 207 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe her explorations of religion and food in India.

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Episode 206: Lessons From 2020

Finally, 2020 is behind us. It changed our world, the way we live our lives, and how we relate to each other and to ourselves. Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok join Amit Varma in episode 206 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock of the year gone by, with each of them picking five lessons they feel 2020 holds for us. Because they can’t count, though, they end up with more than 15 — here they are, below. (Listen to the episode for the elaborations and arguments.)

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Episode 205: India’s Tryst With Pandemics

Pandemic, lockdown, masks, vaccine, state failure, state overreach: India’s been here before, and it’s been worse. Chinmay Tumbe joins Amit Varma in episode 205 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how 40 million lives were lost in the subcontinent between 1817 and 1920 in the cholera, plague and influenza pandemics — and the lessons we need to learn from them.

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Episode 204: A Scientist in the Kitchen

Indian cooking is often treated as a mystical art — but it is the science behind it that should fill us with wonder. Krish Ashok joins Amit Varma in episode 204 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about Masala Lab, his effort at explaining this great art from scientific first principles. Every meal of yours can now be a romantic adventure filled with the ecstasy of insight — whether you cook it, eat or or do both while playing the violin.

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Episode 203: Brave New World

If someone from the year 1990 visited the world of 2020, it would seem magical, even fictional. Vasant Dhar joins Amit Varma in episode 203 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how technology will continue to change our world in ways we cannot imagine. Will the future upgrade us — or will it make us obsolete?

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Episode 202: The BJP Before Modi

The dominance of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics is so complete that it seems like it was inevitable. Was it? Vinay Sitapati joins Amit Varma in episode 202 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the BJP’s long journey to this point, as reflected in the jugalbandi of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani.

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Episode 201: A Cricket Tragic Celebrates the Game

Cricket has a unique place in Indian society, and has touched and shaped millions of lives. Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 201 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how he came to love, play and even administer the ‘most subtle and sophisticated game known to humankind.’

Read show notesEpisode 201: A Cricket Tragic Celebrates the Game