Episode 390: Sanjiv Sharma Sails Through 45 Years of Indian Entertainment

He started in advertising in 1979, became a pioneering ad filmmaker, broke new ground in Indian television, and is the managing trainee of his own life. Sanjiv Sharma joins Amit Varma in episode 390 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his frameworks for living.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 349: The Incredible Insights of Timur Kuran

Why did the Middle East fall behind Europe despite being in a similar state in 1000 AD? How do modern authoritarians benefit from our tendency to falsify our preferences? Timur Kuran joins Amit Varma in episode 349 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his learnings from history — and what they teach us about today.

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Episode 348: Devangshu Datta Traded His Corduroy Pants

From Ganja Park in Kolkata to lock-ups in 13 countries, he has travelled the world and lived through mad times. Devangshu Datta joins Amit Varma in episode 348 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss Bengalis who make bombs, Gujaratis who make fetish costumes, his river pirate ancestors and how Only Fans has disrupted Pornhub.

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Episode 347: India’s Massive Pensions Crisis

It might seem to be a subject that would interest only wonks and retirees, but “pensions can reshape an entire society.” Ajay Shah and Renuka Sane join Amit Varma in episode 347 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why — and to take a deep dive into the crisis India is facing right now.

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Episode 346: The Seema Goswami Files

She’s been a journalist, an editor, a columnist, a novelist — someone who sees the world and writes it down. Seema Goswami joins Amit Varma in episode 346 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her life and times, and what they taught her.

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Episode 345: Economic Learnings of India for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Bihar

If Bihar was a country, it would be both one of the largest and one of the poorest in the world. How did we get here? What can we do? Mohit Satyanand and Kumar Anand join Amit Varma in episode 345 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their insights from a lifetime of study — and a road trip they took last year

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Episode 344: Manisha Pande Watches the News

She’s a journalist, a satirist and a connoisseur of bullshit. Manisha Pande joins Amit Varma in episode 344 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her life, her learnings and the lamentable state of our nation and our journalism.

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Episode 343: We Are All Amits From Africa

Our statues must eat ice cream, our cities must be designed by cardiovascular surgeons, and we must all go to the fifth temple. Krish Ashok and Naren Shenoy join Amit Varma in episode 343 of The Seen and the Unseen to banter away a few perfectly good hours. What a waste of time, eh? NO!

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Episode 342: Vitalik Buterin Fights the Dragon-Tyrant

Everything about the world must be rethought — and Vitalik Buterin is on it. He joins Amit Varma and guest co-host Ajay Shah in episode 342 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss currencies, freedom, political philosophy, community, aging and why we need not be too scared of men with guns.

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Episode 341: The Steady Determination of Yamini Aiyar

She’s one of our finest thinkers, and has devoted her life to public policy and building this country. Yamini Aiyar joins Amit Varma in episode 341 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her life, her learnings and how the Indian state can be reformed.

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Episode 340: Aakash Singh Rathore, the Ironman Philosopher

He’s a philosopher, a political theorist, a runner, a wine lover, an Ambedkarite — and he used to be a Dharma Bum. Aakash Singh Rathore joins Amit Varma in episode 340 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his unusual journey and his unconventional insights.

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Episode 339: The Poetic Feminism of Paromita Vohra

She’s a filmmaker, feminist, artist, writer — impossible to pin down, a connoisseur of multitudes. Paromita Vohra joins Amit Varma in episode 339 of The Seen and the Unseen to shoot the breeze and share her thoughts on Covid, relationships, the garden of consent, how being a misfit can be liberating and what she means by Poetic Feminism.

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Episode 338: The Nuances of Intensive Care

There are few spaces in the world more intense than an intensive care unit, where life hangs in the balance, where nothing can be taken for granted. Nitin Arora joins Amit Varma in episode 338 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about the history and evolution of intensive care, what Covid taught him and why he speaks more Punjabi in Birmingham than in Amritsar.

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Episode 337: Luke Burgis Sees the Deer at His Window

To live the examined life, we have to first examine our own desires. Luke Burgis joins Amit Varma in episode 337 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights into human nature — and to talk about his own evolution as a person and a thinker.

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Episode 336: Shruti Rajagopalan Dives Into Delimitation

In a democracy, every vote should be equal. But in India, that’s not the case. Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 336 of The Seen and the Unseen to give a detailed primer into the complex issue of Delimitation — and to suggest her own radical solution.

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Episode 335: A Deep Dive Into Ukraine vs Russia

The war in Ukraine may seem distant — but it affects us all in a million unseen ways. Ajay Shah joins Amit Varma in episode 335 of The Seen and the Unseen to deliver an in-depth masterclass on exactly what is going on.

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Episode 334: Jayaprakash Narayan Wants to Mend Our Democracy

He was a physician, and then an IAS officer, and then a universally-respected politician. Jayaprakash Narayan joins Amit Varma in episode 334 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his lifelong quest to complete our task of nation-building.

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Episode 333: Subhashish Bhadra on Our Dysfunctional State

India is like a caged tiger — and the cage is unseen by most and difficult to break through. Subhashish Bhadra joins Amit Varma in episode 333 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe the many ways in which the Indian state holds back the Indian people — and also to introspect on his own journey.

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Episode 332: The Life and Times of Uma Chakravarti

She’s been a historian and a filmmaker. She’s worked on feminism and caste and Buddhism. She’s collected oral histories of India’s traumas. She’s mentored generations. The legendary Uma Chakravarti joins Amit Varma in episode 332 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her life, her times and her invaluable work towards the pursuit of truth.

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Episode 331: Gurwinder Bhogal Examines Human Nature

 It is not the world that is the problem but the flawed ways in which we think about it. Gurwinder Bhogal joins Amit Varma in episode 331 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his interest in meta-cognition — and what it reveals about us and the world.

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Episode 330: Eric Weinstein Won’t Toe the Line

He’s a freethinker who’s never been scared to rattle orthodoxies. Eric Weinstein joins Amit Varma in episode 330 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how he became the man he is.

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Episode 329: Murali Neelakantan Looks at the World

He gave up a staggeringly successful career to live a quiet life — and now he shares his wisdom with us. Murali Neelakantan joins Amit Varma in episode 329 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the life he has lived and the lessons he has learnt.

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Episode 328: Kiran Ahluwalia Finds Our Aam Zameen

Her career spans decades and genres, and she’s brought together worlds that seldom meet. Kiran Ahluwalia joins Amit Varma in episode 328 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her life, her music and the ethic that binds it all together.

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Episode 327: The Many Shades of George Fernandes

George Fernandes was an activist, politician, minister, thinker — and was as complicated as the times he lived in. Rahul Ramagundam joins Amit Varma in episode 327 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his biography of Fernandes, the decades he lived through, and this country that kept changing, changing, changing.

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Episode 326: Pushpesh Pant Feasts on the Buffet of Life

He taught international relations for a living, and he lived Indian culture — food, clothes, music, films, languages, the whole package. Pushpesh Pant joins Amit Varma in episode 326 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life, his times and this beautiful country he loves so much.

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Episode 325: Shaili Chopra and the Sisterhood

Women in India are much more than either bechari, badass or bitch — and they won’t be defined any more by the male gaze. Shaili Chopra joins Amit Varma in episode 325 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her life, her learnings and why she won’t hold back on her anger.

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Episode 324: Akshaya Mukul and the Life of Agyeya

Agyeya was a writer, a rebel, a soldier, a lover– and a man who shaped modern Hindi literature. Akshaya Mukul joins Amit Varma in episode 324 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the life of this remarkable man — as well as the art of biography and the state of the nation.

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Episode 323: SVB, Banking and the State of the Economy

What happened at SVB? Is our banking system in crisis? What are we to make of our economy? Ajay Shah and Mohit Satynanand join Amit Varma in episode 323 of The Seen and the Unseen to tackle these complicated questions and more.

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Episode 322: The Life and Times of Mita Kapur

She’s been an author, an entrepreneur, a literary agent, an organiser of events and a mother — but her finest achievement is perhaps her making of herself. Mita Kapur joins Amit Varma in episode 322 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the life she has lived, and what it has taught her. Much talk of writing, food, patriarchy and motherhood.

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Episode 321: Josh Felman Tries to Make Sense of the World

He’s a renowned economist, he’s worked in the IMF, he’s an Asia specialist and he loves India. Josh Felman joins Amit Varma in episode 321 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life, his times, and all that he has learnt about economics and human beings. This episode is co-hosted by Ajay Shah.

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Episode 320: South India Would Like to Have a Word

India is run in a top-down way with a Northern bias — and this is a problem. Nilakantan RS joins Amit Varma in episode 320 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how and why our Southern states perform so much better — and are punished for it. Also discussed: virtue ethics, the charms of Madras and the dangers of storytelling.

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Episode 319: Jahnavi and the Cyclotron

It is a truth universally acknowledged that anyone possessed of an obsession will run into the forces of inertia. Jahnavi Phalkey joins Amit Varma in episode 319 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her history of nuclear physics in India, the men who brought a cyclotron to Chandigarh to study the world — and her own quest to make common people love science.

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Episode 318: The Liberal Nationalism of Nitin Pai

The task of nation-building did not end with our founders, and does not stop at our politicians. It’s up to us to build the India we want to see. Nitin Pai joins Amit Varma in episode 318 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his life, his learnings and his liberal nationalism.

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Episode 317: Rohini Nilekani Pays It Forward

Samaaj came before Sarkaar and Bazaar. We are more than subjects of the state and consumers of the market. Rohini Nilekani joins Amit Varma in episode 317 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her life and her learnings, why citizens need to embrace their agency — and why those with wealth have a special responsibility.

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Episode 316: In a Silent Way

He’s a guitarist, a composer, a producer, an audio engineer and a teacher. Gaurav Chintamani joins Amit Varma in episode 316 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his reflections on music and life.

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Episode 315: Arshia Sattar and the Complex Search for Dharma

The Ramayana is not one book, but a living text with countless versions across languages, each reflecting the values of its time and place. Arshia Sattar joins Amit Varma to share her insights from decades of study. Also discussed: the art of translation — and our search for dharma.

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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.

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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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