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 64: Libertarianism

What does it mean to be free? What is the basis of individual rights? Episode 64 of The Seen and the Unseen is a rerun of an old episode of The Pragati Podcast, as Amit Varma tells Pavan Srinath what it means to be a libertarian, and why it all boils down to one word: Consent.

Episode 63: Foreign Policy

We all have our own guidelines for how individuals should treat each other. But how should nations behave with other nations? Foreign Policy Realist Nitin Pai joins Libertarian Amit Varma to explain the evolution of foreign policy through the ages, and its imperatives today.

Episode 62: Judicial Reforms

India’s judicial system is broken. How can we fix it? Legal expert Alok Prasanna Kumar joins Amit Varma in episode 62 of The Seen and the Unseen.

Episode 61: Aadhaar

According to media commentator Nikhil Pahwa, Aadhaar is a subject on which “what we do will impact generations.” Nikhil joins host Amit Varma on episode 61 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain how Aadhaar threatens our freedoms, and why we need to take it seriously.

Episode 60: India’s Water Crisis

We take water for granted, but India might be entering a full-blown water crisis. Water evangelist Vishwanath S joins Amit Varma in episode 60 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on this.

Episode 59: Protectionism

Protectionism is on the rise across the world, which is bewildering, given how harmful it is. Economist Anupam Manur joins Amit Varma in episode 59 of The Seen and the Unseen to bust eight common myths about protectionism

Episode 58: Misogyny and our Legal System

As three recent cases show, misogyny exist not just in our outdated laws, but also in the minds of our lawmakers and the judiciary. Legal expert Madhav Chandavarkar and feminist Hamsini Hariharan join Amit Varma in episode 58 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss Triple Talaq, Hadiya and the Mahmood Farooqui case.

Episode 57: India’s Maldives Dilemma

There is turmoil in the Maldives, as a tyrant unfriendly to India cozies up to China. Do we need to intervene? Foreign policy expert Pranay Kotasthane joins Amit Varma to give his point of view in episode 57 of The Seen and the Unseen.

Episode 56: Easy Money

The turbulence in the world economy today is enabled by the same phenomenon that caused the 2008 financial crisis, and was perversely also a response to that crisis: Easy Money. Vivek Kaul, author of the Easy Money trilogy, joins Amit Varma in episode 56 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the damage irresponsible governments can do to the economy.

Buy the Easy Money trilogy: 1, 2, 3.

Episode 55: Defending the Indefensible

It is important to always question received wisdom. In episode 55 of The Seen and the Unseen, libertarian thinker Yazad Jal joins Amit Varma to challenge the commonly held view on five subjects. Listen in and see if you agree with him.

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Episode 54: Budget 2018 Quick Takes

The Budget presented by the government of India is an annual ritual that millions of people tune in to. What was the 2018 budget like? Pavan Srinath and Pranay Kotasthane, staff writers of Pragati, join Amit Varma to offer their quick analysis, and to supplement the budget coverage at Pragati.

Episode 53: Pakodanomics

Narendra Modi famously invoked a pakoda seller last week when he spoke about job creation in India. How apt is that invocation? Columnist Vivek Kaul, who coined the term ‘Pakodanomics’, and economist Shruti Rajagopalan join Amit Varma in episode 53 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the prime minister, the pakoda seller and India’s job problem.

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Episode 52: Caste in Modern India

Modern India’s greatest shame is that even after 70 years of Independence, we still haven’t solved the problem of caste. Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 52 of the Seen and the Unseen to shed light on some of the ways in which we have messed up at an institutional level.

Episode 51: Alpha Zero

The chess program Alpha Zero made waves recently when it taught itself chess in four hours — and then thrashed the strongest chess engine in the world, Stockfish. This illustrated a dramatic advance in Artificial Intelligence. Devangshu Datta joins host Amit Varma in episode 51 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about its impact for both chess and AI.

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Episode 50: The State of Indian Politics

Indian politics is complex to the point of being almost unfathomable. JP Narayan, that rare public intellectual who also embraced electoral politics, joins Amit Varma in episode 50 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his learnings.

Episode 49: Political Discourse

Social media has enabled everyone to have a voice — but no one listens any more. In episode 49 of The Seen and the Unseen, Amit Varma examines why our political discourse is so polarised. One particular bugbear of his is the tendency to shift the focus from the argument to the person, and he outlines a few different ways in which people personalise arguments.

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Episode 48: Reforming Urban Governance

 For almost two decades, V Ravichandar has been “a civic evangelist and a patron saint of lost causes” fighting to reform local government in our cities. He joins Amit Varma in episode 48 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the lessons he has learnt, and what keeps him going.

Episode 47: Poker and Stock Markets

Poker and stock markets are very similar — and both holds lessons for life. Ace investor Mohit Satyanand joins former poker pro Amit Varma in episode 47 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how both disciplines reveal the flawed machinery of the human brain.

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Episode 46: The State of the Media

 

We live in times when media is fragmented and there is no consensus on the truth any more. Journalism has become a race to give people what they want to believe. What are we to do? Prem Panicker joins Amit Varma in episode 46 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the State of the Media.

Episode 45: The BJP’s Magic Formula

Over the last few years, the BJP has built the most formidable election machine in human history. Prashant Jha, author of the book ‘How the BJP wins’, joins Amit Varma in episode 45 of The Seen and the Unseen to break down the elements behind their success.

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Episode 44: The Delhi Smog

 It is well known that the key cause of Delhi’s smog is the ‘stubble’ burnt every year by Punjab’s farmers. Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma to discuss the bad incentives in play, how government sops might have caused this problem, and what can be done about it.

Episode 43: Parenthood

Natasha Badhwar, the author of a celebrated parenting column, recently released her moving book, ‘My Daughter’s Mum.’ In episode 43 of The Seen and the Unseen, she joins Amit Varma to discuss the process of parenting, writing about it, and the Seen and Unseen Effects of Parenthood.

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Episode 42: Behavioral Economics

To celebrate Richard Thaler’s Nobel Prize, behavioural econ geek Nidhi Gupta joins Amit Varma in episode 42 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss key concepts from the field — all of which explain many of the Unseen Effects of our actions, and the way we’re wired.

Episode 41: Money in Cricket

Cricket has been transformed in the last four decades, first because of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, and then recently by the IPL. Noted cricket writers Gideon Haigh and Prem Panicker join Amit Varma in episode 41 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the enormous impact of this commercialisation.

Episode 40.5: We’re on a break

The Seen and the Unseen takes a one-week break for Diwali. But we have one request for you: we want your feedback on the show. Click here to tell us what you feel about The Seen and the Unseen!

Episode 40: State of the Economy

Many of the things wrong with India’s economy today are Unseen Effects of Demonetisation and the botched design of GST. Vivek Kaul join joins Amit Varma in episode 40 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock.

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Episode 39: Eating Out

Why don’t Indians eat out as much as people in other countries do? Karthik Shashidhar joins Amit Varma in episode 39 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain how we landed up in an equilibrium in which our restaurants prefer ‘tasty’ to ‘healthy’.

Episode 38: Import/Export

The Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020 is an example of a policy that harms those it is meant to help. Sudhanshu Neema joins Amit Varma in episode 38 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why.

Episode 37: Obamacare

Obamacare is almost an article of faith for elite American liberals, but it has had devastating Unseen Effects. Economist Sudhanshu Neema, who joins host Amit Varma on episode 37 of The Seen and the Unseen, believes that it was responsible for Trump coming to power. Listen up!

Episode 36: SEZs (Special Economic Zones)

Special Economic Zones are usually set up with the best intentions: to attract businesses and create employment. But what are their Unseen Effects? Karthik Shashidhar joins host Amit Varma in episode 36 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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Episode 34: Uber Surge Pricing

Isn’t surge pricing exploitative? Shouldn’t it be banned? Karthik Shashidhar joins Amit Varma to speak about the Unseen Effects of price caps. He also describes how Uber turned an illiquid market into a liquid one.

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Episode 33: Football Transfers

How does the football transfer market work? Why do some players command insanely high transfer fees while others get nothing? Karthik Shashidhar joins Amit Varma to demystify this particular market.

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Episode 32: Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)

Indian public sector banks have a notorious problem of non-performing assets, or NPAs. Vivek Kaul and Kumar Anand join Amit Varma to discuss the causes of this problem, and what can be done about it.

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Episode 31: Urban Governance in India

Our cities are in a mess. They are not in such bad shape because of corrupt individuals or apathetic citizens, but because our structures of governance are all messed up. Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma to explain why.

Episode 30: Real Estate Prices

Why do real estate prices in India not fall when demand goes down and inventory stops moving? Vivek Kaul plays economic detective to help Amit Varma solve this mystery.

Episode 29: Drug Price Controls

The government of India often fixes the prices of medicine in India so that poor people can afford them. Pavan Srinath joins Amit Varma to discuss the Unseen Effects of this, and how they can be ameliorated.

Episode 28: GST Revisited

In Episode 3 of The Seen and the Unseen, we had discussed GST — the Goods and Services Tax. Now that it’s actually been implemented, Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma to discuss its Seen and Unseen Effects.

Episode 27: Television Price Controls

Indian television is appalling, and the reasons for that go beyond culture. Renowned journalist Ashok Malik joins Amit Varma in episode 27 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how government regulation has played its part.

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Episode 26: The Right to Property

The Right to Property is the underpinning of all our rights — and yet, the Indian constitution does not consider it a Fundamental Right, though it once did. Constitutional expert Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma to discuss why this right is important, and the consequences of its being weakened in India.

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