In India, we have government of the people and for the people, but not by the people. How can we fix this? Polymath thinker Ashwin Mahesh joins Amit Varma in episode 160 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about participatory democracy, India Against Corruption, the Aam Aadmi Party and what makes a Good Indian.
Budgets matter more than they should — and the process of making them matters more than their contents. Ajay Shah and Vivek Kaul join Amit Varma in episode 159 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss both journey & destination, strategy & tactics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Economic policy affects each of us — and yet, India has gotten it wrong for decades. In their groundbreaking new book, Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah write not just how to do policy, but how to think about policy. They join Amit Varma in episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their learnings, first principles onwards.
Alongside much social unrest, the Indian economy went to hell in 2019. Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 153 of The Seen and the Unseen to survey the damage, and to demystify the rubble.
Why is India burning over the Citizenship Amendment Bill? Why does the NRC matter? What is happening in Assam? Srinath Raghavan joins Amit Varma in episode 152 of The Seen and the Unseen to give historical perspective on our current ferments.
Politics in Maharashtra is deeply complicated. Its themes and fault lines have been formed over decades. Veteran journalist and author Sujata Anandan joins Amit Varma in episode 151 of The Seen and the Unseen to unravel some of the mysteries behind its fascinating dramas.
How has Indian publishing evolved in the last few decades? What does India read, and why? Publisher VK Karthika joins Amit Varma in episode 150 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about what she learnt in her years in Penguin, Harper Collins and (now) Westland.
Jayaprakash Narayan was trained as a physician, served in the IAS, and went on to start a political movement. JP joins Amit Varma in episode 149 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights on Indian politics, the nature of the state and what we need to do to change India for the better.
In episode 148 of The Seen and the Unseen, host Amit Varma invokes a fictional super-weapon to build an argument against gun rights in India. Guests Shubho Roy and Sudhanshu Neema disagree with him, and each other, most vigorously.
Jahangir is often considered a lightweight Mughal emperor, an ineffectual drunkard sandwiched between his father and his son, Akbar and Shah Jahan. But this is an unfair view. Parvati Sharma joins Amit Varma in episode 147 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on not just Jahangir as an emperor, but on his human side, endearing and infuriating in equal measure.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code is an archaic law and needs to go. But what is the historical background of our sedition law? What are the political and social contexts in which it evolved and thrived? Chitranshul Sinha joins Amit Varma in episode 146 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his book on the subject, The Great Repression.
Is there such a thing as Indian conservatism? What does it mean and where did it come from? Jaithirth Rao joins Amit Varma in episode 145 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his latest book.
The history of humanity is more than just the history of men. Historian Ira Mukhoty joins Amit Varma in episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about going beyond the male gaze to write history. She also discusses Daughters of the Sun, her account of the rich and complex world of Mughal women.
The geopolitics of the West is reasonably well-understood — but China remains a mystery to many. What drives China? How does it look at India? China expert Manoj Kewalramani joins Amit Varma in episode 143 of The Seen and the Unseen to provide historical context and strategic perspective.
We are surrounded by frauds, and are dying to believe them. Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 142 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss ponzi schemes, both in India and outside, both by private actors and the government. Also discussed: chit funds and kitty parties, and why we are wired to be deceived.
Vivek Tejuja, known for his writing on books, has just released his memoir of growing up gay in India. He joins Amit Varma in episode 141 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how he — and those around him — came to terms with his sexuality. In the second half of the episode, Vivek and Amit discuss writers they like, and read out their favourite poetry.
What exactly is wrong with Indian agriculture? How can we help our farmers? Barun Mitra and Kumar Anand join Amit Varma in episode 140 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the root causes and remedies of this decades-long problem.