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 90: The #MeToo Movement

#MeToo is the most important cultural moment of our lifetimes. Supriya Nair and Nikita Saxena join Amit Varma in episode 90 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their insights.

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Episode 89: The State of the Media 2

Are journalists redundant in a world where no one cares about facts any more? Are we to cater to people’s imagined realities? And when money and power come together, how are Independent journalists to resist? Sidharth Bhatia of The Wire and Peter Griffin of The Hindu join Amit Varma in episode 89 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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Episode 88: Metrics of Empowerment

The lives of women in India must be gradually getting better, right? How do we measure this? Devika Kher, Nidhi Gupta and Hamsini Hariharan join Amit Varma in episode 88 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss a range of possible metrics.

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Episode 87: Where Are the Jobs?

India has entered a massive jobs crisis, with more than a million people coming into the workforce every month — and not enough jobs. Will our Demographic Dividend be a Demographic Disaster? Yazad Jal of the 20 Million Jobs project joins Amit Varma in episode 87 of The Seen and the Unseen to give insight on the scale of the problem.

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Episode 86: The State of Our Farmers

India’s agricultural crisis has been caused by the state. Farmer leader Gunvant Patil of the Shetkari Sanghatana joins Amit Varma in episode 86 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the many ways in which Big Government has created our agricultural crisis. (Note: This episode is in Hindi.)

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Episode 85: DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State

Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen is about Demonetisation — and a lot else. First, host Amit Varma launches into an angry monologue about how economic benefits can never justify moral costs. Then he is joined by economist Shruti Rajagopalan, who elaborates on all the things wrong with DeMon. They discuss the predatory Indian state, how Indians are forced into jugaad to cope with it, and that this jugaad might seem to be a good thing, but represents the enormous cost that all of us pay.

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Episode 84: Being Gay in India

What is it like to grow up gay in a deeply homophobic country? Writer and stand-up comedian Navin Noronha joins Amit Varma in ep 84 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his experience growing up gay in Bhayandar, and his insights from his podcast, Keeping it Queer.

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Episode 83: Young India

India is a young country, and young Indians today are entitled and angry. Snigdha Poonam joins Amit Varma in episode 83 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the turmoil in small-town India.

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Episode 81: Chinese Foreign Policy

How does China see its place in the world? What are its foreign policy objectives? Should India be worried? China expert Manoj Kewalramani joins Amit Varma in episode 81 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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Episode 80: India in the Nuclear Age

India as a nuclear power is a different force from what it was before we went nuclear. Lt Gen Prakash Menon joins Amit Varma in episode 80 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how War and Statecraft have been redefined by nuclear weapons.

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Episode 78: Crowd Violence in India

More and more, across this country, violent crowds are taking the law into their own hands. What’s going on? Legal experts Madhav Chandavarkar and Alok Prasanna Kumar share their insights with Amit Varma in episode 78 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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Episode 77: Education in India

According to education scholar and activist Amit Chandra, education in India is a fraud committed on the people of this country by the state. He joins Amit Varma in episode 77 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why.

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Episode 76: Claiming Your Space

Misogyny is ubiquitous. Women begin life with the odds stacked against them. Aditi Mittal joins Amit Varma in episode 76 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how hard it was for her to claim her space. Guest appearance: Swati Bakshi.

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Episode 75: Stand-Up Comedy in India

“Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Aditi Mittal joins Amit Varma to elaborate on this in Episode 75 of The Seen and the Unseen. Abbas Momin sits in as well, as the conversation spins from the evolution of stand-up in India to the challenges it faces.

Episode 74: The Bad and Complex Tax

GST was supposed to be a Good and Simple Tax, but has ended up as just the opposite. This is hurting the poor the most. Economist Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 74 of The Seen and the Unseen to suggest a way out.

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Episode 73: Trade Deficits (and Trumpism)

The US has a trade deficit with China. Trump is worried. Trump is nuts. Vivek Kaul explains why to Amit Varma in episode 73 of The Seen and the Unseen.

Episode 72: The GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has just been passed in Europe. What are its Unseen Effects? What can India learn from it? Legal expert Manasa Venkataraman joins Amit Varma in episode 72 of The Seen and the Unseen to demystify this subject.

Episode 70: Online Conversations

The internet was supposed to bring us all together — but instead, is it driving us apart? Reddit moderator Nikhil X joins Amit Varma in episode 70 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the changing shape of online conversations — and society.

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Episode 69: Immigration and Outsourcing

Donald Trump had two simple answers to everyone who complained about jobs in America. One: Immigrants are taking your jobs. Two: Your jobs are being shipped overseas. Trump was bullshitting. Gaurav Sabnis joins Amit Varma in episode 69 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why.

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Episode 68: Online Content Regulation

The government of India recently broached the possibility of regulating online content — even more than it already does. What does this mean for our freedoms. Nikhil Pahwa joins Amit Varma in episode 68 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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Episode 66: The State of the Economy 2

What does our economy look like today? Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 66 of The Seen and the Unseen, as they talk about Air India, cash shortages, the jobs crisis and other such miscellanea.

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Episode 65: The Future of the Internet

The internet has empowered us all beyond belief — but is there a flip side to this? Does it need to be regulated? Nikhil Pahwa and Amit Doshi have a lively conversation with Amit Varma in episode 65 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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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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