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.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 264: Barun Mitra, Philosopher and Practitioner

Intellectuals need to get out of their ivory towers and take their ideas to the people, learning from them in the process. Barun Mitra joins Amit Varma in episode 264 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss what he learnt from his decades combining reflection and activism.

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Episode 263: The Life and Times of Mrinal Pande

Mrinal Pande, older than our republic, was writing from a time when it was felt that “a woman writing was like a dog walking on two hind legs.” She joins Amit Varma in episode 263 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her learnings from a life in literature. Subjects discussed include our society, our languages, gender, politics and the state of our media.

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Episode 262: Nehru’s Debates

There was a time when our leaders dived into the public discourse and embraced the world of ideas. Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain join Amit Varma in episode 262 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe four debates that Jawaharlal Nehru entered with Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Patel and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. These old debates matter today, because those ideas are still being contested.

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Episode 261: Rukmini Sees India’s Multitudes

You may think you have India figured out — but do you? Rukmini S joins Amit Varma in episode 261 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about the many layers of India she has uncovered by looking closely at data, and the stories that lie beneath.

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Episode 260: Sneaky Artist Sees the World

What we mean by art has changed in modern times — and there has never been a better time to be an artist. Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist joins Amit Varma in episode 260 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his journey, and to share his insights on the creator economy.

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Episode 259: The Loneliness of the Indian Woman

Indian women are lonely in the bedroom, lonely in the kitchen, lonely in the workplace. Shrayana Bhattacharya joins Amit Varma in episode 259 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the interior and exterior lives of these unseen millions.

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Episode 258: The Universe of Chuck Gopal

There has never been a better time to be a creator — but you need to be productive to make use of it! Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka Chuck Gopal joins Amit Varma in episode 258 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his journey, and to share his learnings on creation and productivity.

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Episode 257: Objects Speak to Annapurna Garimella

The world is what it is — but no one knows what that is, and we all see different worlds. Designer and art historian Annapurna Garimella joins Amit Varma in episode 257 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe her passage of seeing, remembering, reflecting.

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Episode 256: Pramit Bhattacharya Believes in Just One Ism

Data has no ideology, and journalists should always be guided by skepticism. Pramit Bhattacharya joins Amit Varma in episode 256 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his journey learning the craft and the values of analytical journalism.

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Episode 255: Sara Rai Inhales Literature

In India, we inhabit many worlds, and we live in many languages, many literatures. Sara Rai joins Amit Varma in episode 255 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her rich life learning to write, learning to read, learning to live.

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Episode 254: The Life and Times of Abhinandan Sekhri

He carried cables on a film set. He teamed up with friends named Arvind and Manish to save Delhi. He started a media company that said Boo to advertisers. Abhinandan Sekhri joins Amit Varma in episode 254 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about the many things he’s learned during his rich and unconventional life.

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Episode 253: Our Parliament and Our Democracy

A democracy is not just about voting, The rules of the game have to protect individuals, and institutions have to keep the government accountable. MR Madhavan joins Amit Varma in episode 253 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his efforts at empowering MPs and MLAs with knowledge — and why we should not lose hope in our nation.

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Episode 252: The State of Our Economy

Winter is here.The pandemic has receded, but our economy was already in bad shape before Covid struck, which made it plummet further. Where do we stand now? Can we recover? Puja Mehra and Mohit Satyanand join Amit Varma in episode 252 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock.

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Episode 251: Amit Schandillia, History Communicator

History is often told in such a boring way that it might as well not have happened. And then, there are those who bring it so alive that the present seems so much clearer. Amit Schandillia joins Amit Varma in episode 251 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how his historical storytelling made him a Twitter sensation — and why both history and storytelling matter in these times.

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Episode 250: Narendra Shenoy and Mr Narendra Shenoy

Narendra Shenoy and Mr Narendra Shenoy are cult figures who transcend the universe of ordinary podcast guests. One of them, a renowned storyteller, joins Amit Varma in episode 250 of The Seen and the Unseen. Which one? Who knows? Schrödinger’s Shenoy.

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Episode 249: Dial C For Snehal Pradhan

C is for Cricket. C is also for Creator. Snehal Pradhan, former fast bowler for the Indian team and current superstar creator, joins Amit Varma in episode 249 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her insights on both these ecosystems.

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Episode 248: The Decline of the Congress

The Congress Party once dominated Indian politics. Today, it’s on the outside looking in. Rahul Verma joins Amit Varma in episode 248 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the complex social and political factors behind this massive decline.

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Episode 247: The Business of Winning Elections

Our political parties suck at governance but excel at narratives, as that’s what wins them elections. Shivam Shankar Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 247 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his experiences at the heart of different political machines.

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Episode 246: The Life and Times of Ayaz Memon

Over the last few decades, India has changed, cricket has changed, our media has changed — and one man has seen it all. Ayaz Memon joins Amit Varma in episode 246 of The Seen and the Unseen to reflect on some of what he has seen and learnt.

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Episode 245: The Dark Side of Indian Pharma

When we pick up medicine from our nearby chemist, we assume that we are getting what we pay for. That trust may be misplaced. Dinesh Thakur joins Amit Varma in episode 245 of The Seen and the Unseen to share the story of the Ranbaxy fraud, and the shoddy state of Indian pharma today.

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Episode 244: The Multitudes of Our Maharajahs

India’s Maharajahs get a bad rap. Both the British empire and our freedom fighters pushed wrong stereotypes about them. Manu Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 244 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about the multitudes of our maharajahs — and much else that matters.

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Episode 243: The Barkha Dutt Files

In the last 25 years, India has changed, journalism has changed and Barkha Dutt has been at the frontlines. She joins Amit Varma in episode 243 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about how we got here, and the lessons of these years.

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Episode 242: India’s Security State

We are subjects, not citizens — and India’s state is designed to keep us that way. Josy Joseph joins Amit Varma in episode 242 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the astonishing ways in which India’s security state misuses its powers.

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Episode 241: The Importance of Satya

The gangster film and the city film are two genres that took a while to evolve in Bollywood. Uday Bhatia joins Amit Varma in episode 241 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya was a seminal moment, shaped by what came before it, and changing the course of Hindi cinema.

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Episode 240: Prakash Iyer, Alteration Tailor

You can learn life lessons by actually living life — or you can take a short cut and learn them from those who have done the living for you. Prakash Iyer joins Amit Varma in episode 240 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his journey rising to the top of the corporate world, and then sharing the lessons he learnt.

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Episode 239: Roshan Abbas and the Creator Economy

If you’re a creative person, there is no better time to be alive. Roshan Abbas joins Amit Varma in episode 239 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his remarkable journey as a creator — and to explain why the best is yet to come.

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Episode 238: The State of Indian Sport

Indian sport has never been healthier. Joy Bhattacharjya and Nandan Kamath join Amit Varma in episode 238 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their inside view on what has happened behind the scenes to bring us here.

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Episode 237: The Importance of the 1991 Reforms

The liberalisation of 1991 lifted more than a quarter of a billion people in India out of poverty. And yet, we often don’t recognise their importance, and have gone backwards in the last decade. Shruti Rajagopalan and Ajay Shah join Amit Varma in episode 237 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss what life was like before 1991, where we had gone wrong, what we put right and what remains to be done.

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Episode 236: The Life and Times of Vir Sanghvi

The task of a journalist is to document the present moment. And there have been plenty of crazy present moments in India in the last 40 years. Vir Sanghvi joins Amit Varma in episode 236 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights on how our society, politics and media have been transformed over the course of his career. He also looks inwards.

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Episode 235: Kavitha Rao and Our Lady Doctors

Back in the 19th century, women were supposed to stay home and learn cooking and needlework — but some dared to fight the odds and get an education. Some even became doctors. Kavitha Rao joins Amit Varma in episode 235 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her new book on six pioneering lady doctors. Also discussed: the craft of writing and storytelling, and the endless possibility for late bloomers.

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Episode 234: Kanti Bajpai on India vs China

What exactly is going on between India and China? When cooperation would lead to a win-win game, why is there conflict? Kanti Bajpai joins Amit Varma in episode 234 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his Four Ps framework for understanding this conflict. Also discussed: academia, public intellectuals, how one learns, and why writing and teaching make you a better thinker.

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Episode 233: Pranay Kotasthane Talks Public Policy

Public policy may seem like a dull subject fit only for wonks, but it matters: our lives are deeply affected by what our governments do. Pranay Kotasthane joins Amit Varma in episode 233 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about his intellectual journey, his private beach and why public policy can be so stimulating. He also answers racy questions from the Twitterverse.

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Episode 232: Understanding India Through Its Languages

The problem with the past is that it’s over. How can we enter distant history and understand what happened? Language is one way. Peggy Mohan joins Amit Varma in episode 232 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her insights on what the evolution of our languages reveals about how we got here.

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Episode 231: The China Dude Is in the House

Bollywood lost him, journalism wasted him, and thank goodness for that. Manoj Kewalramani, the foreign policy analyst also known as The China Dude, joins Amit Varma in episode 231 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his brilliant new book on post-Covid China, Smokeless War. Also discussed: Lokhandwala Cafes and the art of building narratives.

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Episode 230: Jai Arjun Singh Lost It at the Movies

His writing is self-reflective, his humour is self-deprecatory, and he’s one of our finest writers on cinema. Jai Arjun Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 230 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how he to came to love cinema — and how that love changed shape as he did.

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Episode 229: The Practice of Medicine

In these difficult times, no one’s had a harder time than our medical professionals. They see death every day, and they fight it. What is it like to be a doctor in India? Lancelot Pinto joins Amit Varma in episode 229 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the practice of medicine in general, and the battle against Covid-19 in particular. Also discussed: the incentives of doctors, the importance of sleep, how to quit smoking, and the Epidemic of Sighing.

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Episode 228: The Kavita Krishnan Files

We’re well into the 21st century, but Indian society seems stuck in ages past — especially when it comes to the state of our women. Kavita Krishnan joins Amit Varma in episode 228 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her evolution as a feminist, and what she has learned from her activism.

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Episode 227: Taking Stock of Our Economy

The Indian economy has been going downhill for a decade now. How has Covid-19 affected it? Ila Patnaik joins Amit Varma in episode 227 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock of where we are today, and where we go from here.

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Episode 226: Helping Others in the Fog of Pandemic

Does shared suffering lead to greater empathy? There has been an outpouring of relief work during this pandemic, with citizens rushing to help other citizens where the state has failed. But there are complexities and moral dilemmas involved. Ashwin Mahesh joins Amit Varma in episode 226 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his experiences of organising relief at scale, and the importance of working with the state.

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Episode 225: Understanding Indian Healthcare

We may have been in denial earlier, but no more. Covid-19 has laid bare how badly India’s healthcare system is broken. Before we can fix it, we must understand it. Karthik Muralidharan joins Amit Varma in episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on his many years of studying this field. The discussion also contains thoughts on whether GDP is edible, and a bout of antakshiri right at the end.

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