Episode 371: Ram Guha Writes a Letter to a Friend

His latest book looks back at a friendship — and at a world gone by. Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 371 of The Seen and the Unseen to shoot the breeze and share some memories.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

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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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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