Episode 169: Taking Stock of Covid-19

How should India handle Covid-19? Every option on the table carries huge costs, and will take countless lives. Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 169 of The Seen and the Unseen to help navigate the complex decisions that policy makers are being forced to make with little information.

Also check out:
1. India must shut itself down to contain the coronavirus — Shruti Rajagopalan (Mar 16)
2. Shruti Rajagopalan on India and the coronavirus — Marginal Revolution (Mar 25)
3. The lockdown may be doing us more harm than good — Shruti Rajagopalan (Mar 30)
4. Assessing Healthcare Capacity in India — Shruti Rajagopalan and Abishek Choutagunta
5. Pandemic Policy in Developing Countries: Recommendations for India — Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok
6. We have miles of roadblocks to remove before we sleep (Apr 13) — Shruti

Episode 206: Lessons From 2020

…world itself. (Amit)
5. We should think more about inter-generational tradeoffs, and consider lowering the voting age. (Shruti)
6. Software is eating the biological world. (Alex)
7. Science is not the problem. The problem is economic illiteracy. (Shruti)
7.5. We should move from collectivized decision-making to respecting individual choice. (Alex)
8. We need to rethink education. Not just the delivery of it, but how we think of education itself. (Amit)
9. A bigger problem than state capacity is state will. (Alex)
10. Politicians don’t always behave in a rational, self-interested way. (Shruti)
11. Politics is driven only by tribalism. (Amit)
12. The internet is even better than we thought. (Alex)
13. Markets don’t solve everything. (Shruti)
14. We should worry more about computer viruses. (Alex)
15. We should take a closer look at how we relate to other…

Episode 180: Elite Imitation in Public Policy

Indian decision makers often blindly copy public policy from abroad, without considering whether it would work in local conditions. Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok join Amit Varma in episode 180 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the damage caused by such ‘isomorphic mimicry,’ and why it happens in the first place.

Also check out:
1. Premature Imitation and India’s Flailing State — Shruti Rajagopalan & Alexander Tabarrok.
2. Modern Principles of Macroeconomics — Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabarrok.
3. Modern Principles of Microeconomics — Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabarrok.
4. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State — Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
5. The Delhi Smog — Episode 44 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul).
6. Is India a Flailing State? — Lant Pritchett.
7. We Are…

Episode 85: DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State

…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.

Also see:
1. Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.
2. ‘Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards’ — Amit Varma
3. ‘The Landscape of Freedom in India’ — Amit Varma
4. ‘The Humanitarian Cost Trumps Any Economic Argument’ — Amit Varma
5. ‘What the RBI data on demonetization tells us’ — Shruti Rajagopalan
6. ‘Demonetisation and Welfare’ — Shruti Rajagopalan and Larry White
7. ‘Formalization of the economy is a form of coercion’ — Shruti Rajagopalan
8. Episode 2 of The Seen and the Unseen, on Demonetisation, with Suyash Rai
9. Episode 18 of The Seen and the Unseen, on restaurant regulations, with Madhu Menon

Episode 153: The Indian Economy in 2019

…for the Indian Economy in 2020? — Vivek Kaul
9. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State — Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
10. The Bad and Complex Tax — Episode 74 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
11. GST — Episode 3 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Devangshu Datta)
12. GST Revisted — Episode 28 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul)
13. India’s Lost Decade — Episode 119 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra)
14. Demystifying GDP — Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta)
15. In Service of the Republic — Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah
16, Every Act of Government Is an Act of Violence — Amit Varma
17. Narrative Economics — Robert Shiller
18. Where…

Episode 138: Twelve Dream Reforms

Times are bad — but pessimists can dream! Tired of only talking about problems, Shruti Rajagopalan, Rajeswari Sengupta and Vivek Kaul join Amit Varma in episode 138 of The Seen and the Unseen, to propose solutions! Three each. Many bad jokes and Bollywood songs are thrown in.

Also check out
1. Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength — Amit Varma.
2. Alone in the City — Amit Varma
3. Where Are the Jobs? — Ep 87 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Yazad Jal)
4. Education in India — Ep 77 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Amit Chandra)
5. Urban Governance in India — Ep 31 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)
6. The Bad and Complex Tax — Ep 74 of The Seen and the

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.

Show Notes
1. Select episodes of The Seen and the Unseen featuring Shruti Rajagopalan (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Manu Pillai (98, 127, 156), VK Karthika, Rajat Ubhaykar, Chinmay Tumbe, Prem Panicker (41, 46), Joy Bhattacharjya, Akshaya Mukul, Ira Mukhoty, Parvati Sharma, Manimugdha Sharma, Supriya Gandhi, Harsha Bhogle, Karthik Muralidharan, Srinath Raghavan (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Pranay Kotasthane (1, 2), Hamsini Hariharan (1, 2, 3, 4), Russ Roberts, Arvind Subramanian, Ram Guha (1, 2, 3), Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Narayani Basu, Amardeep Singh, Aakar Patel, Rahul Verma, Ashok Malik, Barun Mitra+Kumar Anand, Matt Ridley, Neelesh Misra, Puja Mehra,…

Episode 35: The Bhopal Gas Tragedies

In episode 35 of The Seen and the Unseen, economist and lawyer Shruti Rajagopalan explains why there were three Bhopal Gas Tragedies, not just one.

Also read: Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Paternalism and Filicide (pdf link) — Shruti Rajagopalan

Episode 123: India’s Supreme Court

As the recent sexual harassment case indicates, all is not well with the Supreme Court of India. Constitutional economist Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 123 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain why the Supreme Court has gone wrong on both ends of the tradeoff between Independence and Accountability.

Also check out:
Justice Is Dead, Long Live the Justices — Shruti Rajagopalan
Imagine No Possessions — Episode 26 of The Seen and the Unseen
Fixing Our Judicial System — Episode 62 of The Seen and the Unseen
Ek Baar Jo Maine Commitment Kar Di — Amit Varma
Where Have All the Leaders Gone? — Amit Varma

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

…Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
17. Episode of The Seen and the Unseen on GST with Devangshu Datta, Vivek Kaul and Shruti Rajagopalan.
18. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State — Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
19. ‘Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards’ — Amit Varma.
20. Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.
21. Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy — Mihir Sharma.
22. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State — Amit Varma.
23. The State of Our Farmers — Episode 86 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gunvant Patil).
24. India’s Agriculture Crisis — Episode 140 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Barun Mitra and Kumar Anand).
25. We Must Save Our…

Episode 191: Our Cities After Covid-19

…Spatial Economics: The Declining Cost of Distance — Karen Harris, Andrew Schwedel and Austin Kimson.
8. Triumph of the City — Edward L Glaeser.
9. Order Without Design – How Markets Shape Cities — Alain Bertaud.
10. The Importance of Cities — Episode 108 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Reuben Abraham & Pritika Hingorani.)
11. The Seen and the Unseen episodes with Alex Tabarrok on FSI and Rent Control.
12. Urban Governance in India — Episode 31 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
13. Taking Stock of Covid-19 — Episode 169 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
14. The Nuances of Lockdown — Episode 176 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Anup Malani).
15. India’s Economy in the Time of Covid-19 — Episode 177 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul).<br…

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.

Also check out:
1. Sixteen Stormy Days — Tripurdaman Singh.
2. Imperial Sovereignty and Local Politics — Tripurdaman Singh.
3. The books of CA Bayly.
4. Shruti Rajagopalan on our constitutional amendments.
5. The Right to Property — Episode 26 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
6. ‘Not murder but mimicry’ — Kapil Komireddi’s tweet.
7. Modi’s Lost Opportunity — Episode 119 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Salman Soz).
8. India’s Greatest Civil Servant —…

Episode 119: Modi’s Lost Opportunity

Despite being a Congress spokesperson, economist Salman Soz was hopeful in 2014 that the Modi government would be good for India. As the title of his new book indicates, that turned out to be quite The Great Disappointment. Soz joins Amit Varma in episode 119 of The Seen and the Unseen to elaborate on the many economic failures of the Modi government. He also tackles tough questions on the Congress party .

Also check out:

1. The Great Disappointment — Salman Soz

2. India’s Lost Decade — Ep 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra)

3. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State — Ep 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan)

4. The Bad and Complex Tax — ep 74 of The Seen and the Unseen ( w Shruti Rajagopalan)

5. The

Episode 215: A Writer Learns to See

…9. The Art of Translation — Episode 168 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Arunava Sinha).
10. राधा सौंदर्य — Beni Prasad Beni.
11. Thandi Hawayein Lehrake Aaye.
12. Aakar Patel at The Windowpane Sessions.
13. A Scientist in the Kitchen — Episode 204 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Krish Ashok).
14. A Meditation on Form — Amit Varma.
15. Jackson Katz’s TedX talk about violence against women and the passive voice. (Also, this quote.)
16. Demystifying GDP — Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta).
17. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State — Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
18. Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.
19. Our Colourful Past — Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w…

Episode 100: The 100th Episode Ramble

The Seen and the Unseen reaches 100 episodes! Yea! Economist Shruti Rajagopalan, the most frequent guest on the show, joins host Amit Varma as they shoot the breeze about the 99 episodes before this, the horrors of 2018, and the further horrors of 2019.

Also check out:
These past episodes with Gunvant Patil, Vikram Doctor, Harsha Bhogle, Gideon Haigh+Prem Panicker, Rajesh Jain, Vishwanath S, Parth Shah, Amit Chandra, Alex Tabarrok, Naveen Noronha, Kumar Anand, Vivek Kaul, Ashok Malik, Nikita+Supriya (on #MeToo), Devika+Nidhi+Hamsini and Matt Ridley.

And also with Shruti on the Right to Property, DeMon, GST, #MeToo and Caste.

And ah, The Matunga Racket.

Episode 92: An Economist Looks at #MeToo

Will the #MeToo movement change behaviour by changing incentives? Economist Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 92 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about Criminal Economics in the context of crimes on women in India.

Also check out:
Changing the Costs for the Rational Sexual Predator: Shruti Rajagopalan in Mint
Men Must Step Up Now: Amit Varma’s editorial in Pragati
The Importance of #MeToo: Episode 90 of The Seen and the Unseen
Metrics of Empowerment: Episode 88 of The Seen and the Unseen
Fixing Our Judicial System: Episode 62 of The Seen and the Unseen

Episode 82: Swachh Bharat

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is short-sighted, and does not achieve its purpose. Why? What can we do? Economist Shruti Rajagopalan joins Amit Varma in episode 82 of The Seen and the Unseen to break it all down.

Also read
India needs sewage systems, not free toilets — Shruti Rajagopalan
That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen — Frédéric Bastiat
The Use of Knowledge in Society — Friedrich Hayek
Public Choice: Politics Without Romance — James Buchanan
Where India Goes — Diane Coffey and Dean Spears
Why Are Our Cities So Messed Up — ep 31 of The Seen and the Unseen
How We Messed Up Our Caste Problem — ep 52 of The Seen and the Unseen

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.

Also check out
Simple Rules for a Complex World — Shruti Rajagopalan
GST — Episode 3 of The Seen and the Unseen with Devangshu Datta
GST Revisited — Episode 28 of The Seen and the Unseen with Vivek Kaul

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.

Also read: Why We Need The Right To Private Property — Shruti Rajagopalan

Episode 177: India’s Economy in the Time of Covid-19

Our economy was going down, down, down well before Covid-19 struck. And now? Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 177 of The Seen and the Unseen to spread his usual quota of sunshine and joy.

Also check out:
1. TikTok and Indian Society — An online course by Amit Varma.
2. Bad Money — Vivek Kaul.
3. Taking Stock of Covid-19 — Episode 169 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
4. The Nuances of Lockdown — Episode 176 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Anup Malani).
5. The Indian Economy in 2019 — Episode 153 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul).
6. India’s Lost Decade — Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
7. The Art and Science of Economic Policy — Episode 154 of The Seen…