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.
Joint production with IVM Podcasts

Episode 206: Lessons From 2020

Finally, 2020 is behind us. It changed our world, the way we live our lives, and how we relate to each other and to ourselves. Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok join Amit Varma in episode 206 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock of the year gone by, with each of them picking five lessons they feel 2020 holds for us. Because they can’t count, though, they end up with more than 15 — here they are, below. (Listen to the episode for the elaborations and arguments.)

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Episode 205: India’s Tryst With Pandemics

Pandemic, lockdown, masks, vaccine, state failure, state overreach: India’s been here before, and it’s been worse. Chinmay Tumbe joins Amit Varma in episode 205 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how 40 million lives were lost in the subcontinent between 1817 and 1920 in the cholera, plague and influenza pandemics — and the lessons we need to learn from them.

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Episode 204: A Scientist in the Kitchen

Indian cooking is often treated as a mystical art — but it is the science behind it that should fill us with wonder. Krish Ashok joins Amit Varma in episode 204 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about Masala Lab, his effort at explaining this great art from scientific first principles. Every meal of yours can now be a romantic adventure filled with the ecstasy of insight — whether you cook it, eat or or do both while playing the violin.

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Episode 203: Brave New World

If someone from the year 1990 visited the world of 2020, it would seem magical, even fictional. Vasant Dhar joins Amit Varma in episode 203 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how technology will continue to change our world in ways we cannot imagine. Will the future upgrade us — or will it make us obsolete?

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Episode 202: The BJP Before Modi

The dominance of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics is so complete that it seems like it was inevitable. Was it? Vinay Sitapati joins Amit Varma in episode 202 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the BJP’s long journey to this point, as reflected in the jugalbandi of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani.

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Episode 201: A Cricket Tragic Celebrates the Game

Cricket has a unique place in Indian society, and has touched and shaped millions of lives. Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 201 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how he came to love, play and even administer the ‘most subtle and sophisticated game known to humankind.’

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Episode 200: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

The tables are turned in episode 200 of The Seen and the Unseen. Host Amit Varma is in the firing line, replying to questions from 22 of his past guests and fans as Shruti Rajagopalan plays proctor. They talk about poker, podcasting, politics, policy and the personal.

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Episode 199: An Adman Reflects on Society & the Self

Figuring out what consumers want is pretty similar to figuring out what society wants. Adman and author Ambi Parameswaran joins Amit Varma in episode 199 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights from his decades in advertising, and the many books he has written.

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Episode 198: Cities and Citizens

As our cities are growing, our citizens are growing apathetic. Can we reassert our rights and reform our governance? Ashwin Mahesh joins Amit Varma in episode 198 of The Seen and the Unseen for a wide-ranging conversation on urban governance, citizenship, education and much more.

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Episode 197: Storytelling and Conversation

Stories and conversations can shape the world, and ourselves, in ways that we often don’t appreciate. Neelesh Misra joins Amit Varma in episode 197 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about his journey as a storyteller and interviewer.

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Episode 196: The Importance of Data Journalism

Good data journalism can reveal otherwise unseen truths about our society. Pioneering journalist Rukmini S joins Amit Varma in episode 196 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the insights data brought to her journalism, and her groundbreaking podcast on Covid-19, The Moving Curve.

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Episode 195: Memories and Things

Decades after the trauma of separation, Partition remains with us. Aanchal Malhotra joins Amit Varma in episode 195 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her work in excavating the memories of Partition survivors through the objects they carried with them — and their resonance in these modern times.

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Episode 194: The First Assault on Our Constitution

The constitution of India, it has been said, is not a book but a periodical. Starting with Jawaharlal Nehru, every prime minister who wanted to do something unconstitutional simply amended the constitution. Tripurdaman Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 194 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss India’s First Amendment, which began a rot that never ended.

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Episode 193: The Fight of the Central Banker

The conflict between the government and the central bank seems like an arcane one that only wonks care about — but it affects the lives of all of us. Viral Acharya joins Amit Varma in episode 193 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why we should all join him in the battle against Fiscal Dominance.

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Episode 192: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Trucker

There is much romance in being on the open road, always on the move. But not for the long-distance trucker, trapped in a moving cocoon, always travelling but getting nowhere slowly. Rajat Ubhaykar joins Amit Varma in episode 192 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his insights from hitchhiking around India on trucks.

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Episode 191: Our Cities After Covid-19

In normal times, cities are an engine of prosperity. In these strange times, they are also an engine of pandemic. Vaidehi Tandel joins Amit Varma in episode 191 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how important cities are to civilisation, and how Covid-19 will affect the way we live.

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Episode 190: Queeristan

Whatever you say of India, an old cliche goes, the opposite is also true. India has always been homophobic — but it also contains Queeristan. Parmesh Shahani joins Amit Varma in episode 190 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his long ongoing battle for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate India — and much beyond.

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Episode 189: The Acting Life

These are exciting times for Indian cinema, as multiple worlds and sensibilities collide in the streets and studios of Mumbai. Actors Rasika Dugal and Mukul Chadda join Amit Varma in episode 189 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe their journeys in this brave new world.

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Episode 188: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

The Indian economy has been on a wild ride, traumatic in parts, for the last 73 years. And Arvind Subramanian was on a wild ride of his own as Chief Economic Advisor in the Indian government between 2014 and 2018. Arvind joins Amit Varma in episode 188 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss both these journeys.

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Episode 187: Dadabhai Naoroji and the Fight for India

In the 19th century, when the Idea of India was so nebulous, what did it mean to be a freedom fighter? Dinyar Patel joins Amit Varma in episode 187 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe Dadabhai Naoroji’s battle to transform India from within the British empire.

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