Episode 314: The Life and Times of Jerry Pinto

Poet, novelist, translator, journalist, crime fiction writer, children’s book author, teacher, math tutor: now here is a man who contains multitudes. Jerry Pinto joins Amit Varma in episode 314 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life and learnings.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 313: The Long Road From Neeyat to Neeti

Public policy may seem arcane and complicated, a field only for geeks. But all our lives are shaped by it. Pranay Kotasthane and Raghu S Jaitley join Amit Varma in episode 313 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe their efforts to make policy great again.

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Episode 312: Ashutosh Salil and the Challenge of Change

He is an IAS officer who has just co-written a book about Gandhian social workers in Vidarbha. Ashutosh Salil joins Amit Varma in episode 312 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the difficult work of bringing about change from within society — and from within the state.

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Episode 311: The Life and Times of Shanta Gokhale

She’s been a novelist, a playwright, a critic, an essayist, a memoirist, a journalist, a writer for cinema and a historian of theatre — in both English and Marathi. Shanta Gokhale joins Amit Varma in episode 311 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her remarkable life and times.

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Episode 310: Abby Philips Fights for Science and Medicine

Known online as The Liver Doctor, he’s a crusader against quackery of all sorts. Cyriac Abby Philips joins Amit Varma in episode 310 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his journey to becoming a doctor-scientist, the breakthroughs in his field, what he has learnt as a physician — and the dangers of ‘alternative medicine.’

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Episode 309: The Adda at the End of the Universe

As 2022 draws to a close, it’s time to chill. Vikram Sathaye and Roshan Abbas join Amit Varma in episode 309 of The Seen and the Unseen to share wit, wisdom and life lessons that are priceless. There is cricket, there is singing, there are great bad jokes — never has insight been so much fun!

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Episode 308: Saaz Aggarwal Enters a Vanished Homeland

Borders and nation states can sometimes seek to divide communities — but isn’t that a bit like cutting water with a knife? Saaz Aggarwal joins Amit Varma in episode 308 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her work chronicling the history and culture of the Sindhi people — and her own rich life as a writer and artist.

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Episode 307: Suyash Rai Embraces India’s Complexity

Indian society, the Indian state and the Indian economy are all complex beasts that defy simple narratives. Suyash Rai joins Amit Varma in episode 307 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how he has tried to make sense of it all — and how he tries to make a difference.

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Episode 306: The History of the Planning Commission

Society cannot be designed in a top-down way. Central planning was a historic blunder that harmed India — even though it was conceived by great men with good intentions. Nikhil Menon joins Amit Varma in episode 306 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the flawed genius PC Mahalanobis, the planning commission, and his own life as a scholar.

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Episode 305: Coomi Kapoor Has the Inside Track

She’s been a journalist for half a century, wrote the definitive book on the Emergency, and is revered for her political insight. Coomi Kapoor joins Amit Varma in episode 305 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her life, Indian politics and the state of our media.

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Episode 304: Make Me a Canteen for My Soul

Food is more than just sustenance for the body. Food contains stories, memories, emotions, and the ingredients of the self. Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage join Amit Varma in episode 304 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe their journeys in food, from starting cult restaurants like Bombay Canteen and O Pedro, to setting up the pathbreaking Bombay Sweet Shop, to now taking that deeper dive into the role food plays in our society.

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Episode 303: The Loneliness of the Indian Man

Women are not the only victims of patriarchy — men are also diminished by it. Nikhil Taneja joins Amit Varma in episode 303 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss what he has learnt about mental health, young people in India, the epidemic of loneliness in our country — and the enormous power of storytelling.

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Episode 302: The Life and Times of Teesta Setalvad

She began as a journalist in the pursuit of truth. She went on to embrace activism in the pursuit of justice. Teesta Setalvad joins Amit Varma in episode 302 to talk about all that she learnt from her life and work.

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Episode 301: Natasha Badhwar Lives the Examined Life

Her acclaimed personal essays explore motherhood, marriage and this modern world — and hold up a mirror to all of us. Natasha Badhwar joins Amit Varma in episode 301 to speak about her life and her writing.

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Episode 300: The Gentle Wisdom of Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Our selves are nebulous, the world is complex and the times they are a-changin’. Pratap Bhanu Mehta joins Amit Varma in episode 300 of The Seen and the Unseen for a freewheeling chat about how to make sense of all of this.

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Episode 299: The Reflections of Samarth Bansal

What should a newsroom report on? Does journalism know its own purpose? Do we? What ethics should we live by, and why? Samarth Bansal joins Amit Varma in episode 299 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about living the examined life, and asking the fundamental questions.

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Episode 298: The Life and Work of Ashwini Deshpande

Her pioneering work has helped us understand how caste and gender remain huge problems in India. But her past goes beyond numbers, into a rich history of aajobas and aajis and theatre and song. Ashwini Deshpande joins Amit Varma in episode 298 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how she used her economist’s gaze to understand our social problems — and how films and music also played their part.

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Episode 297: Alice Evans Studies the Great Gender Divergence

We’re in the 21st century, and it would seem that the world is finally moving towards gender equality, right? Not so fast. Alice Evans joins Amit Varma in episode 297 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss why some parts of the world are crawling slower than others.

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Episode 296: Caste, Capitalism and Chandra Bhan Prasad

The evil of caste will be solved not by deliverance from up top but empowerment from down below. Dalit scholar and writer Chandra Bhan Prasad joins Amit Varma in episode 296 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why the cure for caste lies in capitalism — and why his two great heroes are Babasaheb Ambedkar and Adam Smith.

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Episode 295: The Girl From Kashmir

Imagine being a young girl growing up in a world of constant curfews, occasional raids, army bunkers outside homes, and the fear that whoever leaves home may not return. Farah Bashir joins Amit Varma in episode 295 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about her childhood in Kashmir — and the act of writing about it.

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Episode 294: Dance Dance For the Halva Waala

You can lose yourself in cinema — and you can find yourself in it. Jai Arjun Singh and Subrat Mohanty join Amit Varma in episode 294 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the films in their lives, why we should watch old films, why we should watch new films, why Bollywood and Hollywood and other woods are all great, and why we live in a wonderful technicolor world. This episode is a celebration of cinema!

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Episode 293: Womaning in India With Mahima Vashisht

The world we live in is designed by men for men. What is it like to be a woman in this world? Mahima Vashisht joins Amit Varma in episode 293 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her experiences documenting all that is unseen by men and lived by women.

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Episode 292: Varun Grover Is in the House

He’s one of our finest writers, lyricists, comedians, dissenters — and the breadth of his work is matched by the depth of his insights. Varun Grover joins Amit Varma in episode 292 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life and work so far.

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Episode 291: The Refreshing Audacity of Vinay Singhal

He was born in a small village in Haryana, built and lost one of the biggest viral sites in the world, and is now building a Netflix for India’s dialects. Vinay Singhal joins Amit Varma in episode 291 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about what he learnt from Witty Feed, the philosophy behind his new venture Stage, and how India lives, truly lives, in its dialects.

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Episode 290: Karthik Muralidharan Examines the Indian State

In 1947, few people gave us 75 years. Bloody hell, here we are! And it is up to us now to make this country the best version of itself. Karthik Muralidharan joins Amit Varma in episode 290 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss one of our problem areas: the Indian state. Can we fix it? Yes we can!

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Episode 289: Shruti Jahagirdar is the Sporty One

She’s skated down tekdis, played volleyball for her state, run through deserts and wrestled a bear with her bare hands. Ok, not the last one. Shruti Jahagirdar joins Amit Varma in episode 289 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss women’s sports in India, fitness, nutrition and a world without limits.

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Episode 288: Chandrahas Choudhury’s Country of Literature

To immerse yourself in literature is to immerse yourself in the world. Chandrahas Choudhury joins Amit Varma in episode 288 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about reading, writing, friendship, Mumbai and the guests at his fantasy dinner table.

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Episode 287: The Life and Times of Urvashi Butalia

She helped generations of women in India find a voice. She expanded the worldview of countless people. She confronted the horrors of our past and the fissures of our present. Urvashi Butalia joins Amit Varma in episode 287 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her life and learnings.

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Episode 286: Pradeep Magazine Replays His Life

He wrote about cricket for decades — and also turned his piercing gaze on society and himself. Pradeep Magazine joins Amit Varma in episode 286 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his journey, and how it changed him.

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Episode 285: The Life and Times of Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Our real heroes are often backstage. Montek Singh Ahluwalia joins Amit Varma in episode 285 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his life, his learnings and the liberalisation of 1991.

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Episode 284: The Life and Times of Nilanjana Roy

A lifetime spent reading, writing and reflecting teaches you a lot. Nilanjana Roy joins Amit Varma in episode 284 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about books, feminism, family, memory and the state of the world.

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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.

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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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