181 episodes

All public policies -- indeed, all actions by humans -- have two kinds of effects: the effects that are intended, and visible; and unintended consequences, which are invisible. The Seen and the Unseen is a podcast that aims to examine both the seen and the unseen effects of our actions.

Presented by Amit Varma (a journalist for a decade-and-a-half, and winner of the prestigious Bastiat Prize for journalism in 2007 and 2015 -- the only person to win it twice), the show takes on a specific public policy in every episode, and dissects its seen and unseen effects. For example: the ban on surge pricing by Uber in Delhi. What is seen is that Uber no longer costs so much; what is unseen is that you cannot get an Uber at all, because of the scarcity that is a direct result of the price control. The host explains the economic reasoning at work, and talks to an expert who breaks it down further.

The host will have a panel of experts at his disposal, from a variety of disciplines, and will speak to a relevant expert in every episode. Subjects covered will range from broad ones like the state of education in India, to narrower ones like the banning of 'victimless crimes' like prostitution and gambling.

The Seen and the Unseen - hosted by Amit Varma Amit Varma

    • Politics
    • 4.6, 305 Ratings

All public policies -- indeed, all actions by humans -- have two kinds of effects: the effects that are intended, and visible; and unintended consequences, which are invisible. The Seen and the Unseen is a podcast that aims to examine both the seen and the unseen effects of our actions.

Presented by Amit Varma (a journalist for a decade-and-a-half, and winner of the prestigious Bastiat Prize for journalism in 2007 and 2015 -- the only person to win it twice), the show takes on a specific public policy in every episode, and dissects its seen and unseen effects. For example: the ban on surge pricing by Uber in Delhi. What is seen is that Uber no longer costs so much; what is unseen is that you cannot get an Uber at all, because of the scarcity that is a direct result of the price control. The host explains the economic reasoning at work, and talks to an expert who breaks it down further.

The host will have a panel of experts at his disposal, from a variety of disciplines, and will speak to a relevant expert in every episode. Subjects covered will range from broad ones like the state of education in India, to narrower ones like the banning of 'victimless crimes' like prostitution and gambling.

    Ep 179: The Plight of Our Street Vendors

    Ep 179: The Plight of Our Street Vendors

    India suffers from a predatory state, and nothing illustrates this better than the sorry state of our street vendors. Prashant Narang joins Amit Varma in episode 179 of The Seen and the Unseen to elaborate on this unseen tragedy of the streets around us.
     
    Also check out:
    1. Street Vendor Act 2014: Progress Report -- 2017, 2018-19, 2020.
    2. Do Street Vendors Have a Right to the City? -- Prashant Narang & Vidushi Sabharwal.
    3. The Ease of Doing Business on the Streets of India -- Bhuvana Anand, Prashant Narang, Riktika Shah, Vidushi Sabharwal.
    4. Suboptimal vendor enumeration practices in Gurugram --  Prashant Narang & Vidushi Sabharwal.
    5. Enumerating Street Vendors in Mumbai -- Prashant Narang.
    6. Street Vendors Act 2014: Allocating Certificates of Vending -- Prashant Narang & Bhuvana Anand.
    7. Vendors Need Ease of Doing Business to Become Atmanirbhar -- Bhuvana Anand, Jayana Bedi & Prashant Narang.
    8. Modi govt will count hawkers in job data but must improve their Ease of Doing Business too -- Prashant Narang and Jayana Bedi.
    9. Third Wheel -- A documentary on auto-rickshaws.
    10. Manushi Sangathan v GNCT of Delhi -- Judgement on cycle rickshaw pullers.
    11. Time For Manushi-II -- Prashant Narang.
    12. Formal versus Informal Allocation of Land in a Commons -- Gregg W Kettles.
    13. What About 'Unlock' For Vendors? -- Bhuvana Anand, Jayana Bedi & Prashant Narang. 
    14. A People's Constitution-- Rohit De.
    15. The Mystery of Capital --  Hernando De Soto.
    16. The Power Broker-- Robert Caro.
    17. The Death and Life of Great American Cities -- Jane Jacobs.

    Also, do check out The Art of Clear Writing.
     
    Note: This episode was recorded in February 2020.

    • 1 hr 38 min
    Ep 178: What Happened to Our Journalism?

    Ep 178: What Happened to Our Journalism?

    Journalism used to be a quest to establish the truth. It has now become a battle of conflicting narratives. We have gone from seeking to shouting. What went wrong? Nidhi Razdan joins Amit Varma in episode 178 of The Seen and the Unseen to share insights from her eventful career.
     
    Also check out:
    1. Left, Right and Centre: The Idea of India -- Nidhi Razdan (editor).
    2. Special: Inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (Dec 2004) -- NDTV/Nidhi Razdan.
    3. Best in the Field (w Nidhi Razdan) -- NDTV.
    4. The Facts Do Not Matter -- Amit Varma.
    5. The State of the Media -- Episode 46 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Prem Panicker).
    6. The State of the Media 2 -- Episode 89 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Sidharth Bhatia & Peter Griffin).
    7. You're From the Mutton Lobby -- Episode 49 of The Seen and the Unseen (solo ep with transcript).
    8. Television Price Controls -- Episode 27 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ashok Malik). 
    9. Jon Stewart Is Back to Weigh In -- David Marchese.
    10. Hold On, Mr President! -- Sam Donaldson.

    • 1 hr 20 min
    Ep 177: India's Economy in the Time of Covid-19

    Ep 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 and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah).
    8. Demystifying GDP — Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta).
    9. Ponzi Schemes — Episode 142 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul).
    10. The State of Our Farmers — Episode 86 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gunvant Patil).
    11. India’s Agriculture Crisis — Episode 140 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Barun Mitra & Kumar Anand).
    12. Rajesh Jain and Dhan Vapasi — Episode 94 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajesh Jain).
    13. Economy bears burden as goods trains travel light — Vivek Kaul.
    14. As people act in their self-interest, India is getting into a recession — Vivek Kaul.
    15. RBI’s moves may not snap banks’ wariness to lend — Vivek Kaul.
    16. Six reasons why the fiscal package is more about putting people’s own money into their hands than actually kickstarting crippled economy — Vivek Kaul.
    17. Explained: RBI’s negative role in the government’s Rs 20 lakh crore package — Vivek Kaul’
    18. Should the RBI print money to revive the economy? It’s not as simple as it sounds — Vivek Kaul.
    19. Why India needs more than liquidity dreams — Vivek Kaul.
    20. How India’s soaring fiscal deficit affects you — Vivek Kaul.
    21. Easynomics: Why State Bank of India is not lending — Vivek Kaul.
    22. A GST cut can put auto sales on fast track to revival — Vivek Kaul.
    23. 10 things you need to know about Indian real estate in the aftermath of coronavirus — Vivek Kaul.
    24. India’s economy was in a rut even before Covid-19 struck — Vivek Kaul.
    25. The Forgotten Man — Amity Shlaes.
    26. Modern Money Theory — L Randall Wray.
    27. Monetization: Neither Game Changer not Catastrophe Today — Raghuram Rajan.

    • 2 hrs 1 min
    Ep 176: The Nuances of Lockdown

    Ep 176: The Nuances of Lockdown

    What do past epidemics teach us about Covid-19? What do past disasters teach us about politics and the state? Is there a false binary between lockdown and no-lockdown? Anup Malani joins Amit Varma in episode 176 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights on these subjects and more.
     
    Also check out:
    1. Anup Malani's homepage.
    2. Taking Stock of Covid-19 -- Episode 169 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
    3. We Are Fighting Two Disasters -- Amit Varma.
    4. The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour -- Gary Becker.
    5. Learning During a Crisis: the SARS Epidemic in Taiwan -- Daniel Bennett, Chun-Fang Chiang, Anup Malani.
    6. Identifying Placebo Effects with Data from Clinical Trials -- Anup Malani.
    7. FSI (Floor Space Index) -- Episode 11 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Alex Tabarrok).
    8. Rent Control -- Episode 14 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Alex Tabarrok). 
    9. Slums -- Episode 21 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pavan Srinath).

    • 2 hrs 10 min
    Ep 175: The Indian Armed Forces

    Ep 175: The Indian Armed Forces

    As institutions wither around us, the Indian Armed Forces have retained their credibility. But is there a risk of politicization there as well? Lt Gen Prakash Menon joins Amit Varma in episode 175 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the evolution of our armed forces through the decades, and the challenges they face today.
     
    Also check out:
    1. India in the Nuclear Age -- Episode 80 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Lt Gen Prakash Menon).
    2. The Strategy Trap -- Lt Gen Prakash Menon. 
    3. The India-Pakistan Conflict -- Episode 111 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan).
    4. The Geopolitics of the Bangladesh War -- Episode 113 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan).
    5. Our Colorful Past -- Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    6. Army and Nation -- Steven I Wilkinson.
    7. Rommel: The Desert Fox -- Desmond Young.
    8. To Serve With Honour -- SD Verma.
    9. The Battle for Money -- Sushant Singh.
    10. The Insurgents -- Fred Kaplan.
    11. Counterinsurgency Warfare -- David Galula.
    12. The Generation of Rage in Kashmir -- David Devadas.
    13. We Won’t Need To Fight A War If We Can Win The Peace -- Amit Varma.

    • 1 hr 46 min
    Ep 174: Tawaif

    Ep 174: Tawaif

    Tawaifs played a unique role in Indian society and culture in the 19th century, but have since been either vilified or romanticized. Filmmaker and author Saba Dewan joins Amit Varma in episode 174 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the fascinating human stories behind this lost community.
     
    Also check out:
    1. Tawaifnama -- Saba Dewan
    2. The Other Song -- Saba Dewan
    3. Films, Feminism, Paromita -- Episode 155 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Paromita Vohra)
    4. The History of Desire in India -- Episode 161 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Madhavi Menon)
    5. Women in Indian History -- Episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ira Mukhoty)
    6. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism -- Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul)

    The Seen and the Unseen is a labour of love. Click here to support it.

    • 2 hrs 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
305 Ratings

305 Ratings

MMKS28 ,

Quite intriguing 😇😇😇😇

Every podcast gives a new perspective about the each topics and makes you wonder there are lot to learn and no matter how much we know about something there is always unseen side of it where most of the time we either ignore it or it doesn’t suits our own interest and thought process. Thank you Amit Varma!

Ganesh Satpute ,

Guests are amazing, but host runs political agenda

I recently came across this podcast. The guests were quite good, they had amazing opinions, pro-government and against government, with all the right logic to support or oppose government. Then the politically biased host comes, and tries to make a selective point of how government is doing bad. He in a decent way, shuts down guest's neutru views and imposes his own. Feels like they're running political propaganda, when I just came here to learn about something.

People should not be blind followers or opposers of any one. Neither listening to Arnab is sensible nor Ravish Kumar. They should weigh Evey decision with open mind.

I wish this podcast exists without the host.

Monty@BGL ,

The Seen and Unseen

Honestly Amit Varma brings quite interesting and current topics every week.
The podcasts are thought provoking, gives lot of learning. He covers current topics , keep it up Amit.

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