232 episodes

The Seen and the Unseen, hosted by Amit Varma, features longform conversations that aim to give deep insights into the subjects being discussed. Timeless and bingeworthy.

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

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    • 4.6 • 419 Ratings

The Seen and the Unseen, hosted by Amit Varma, features longform conversations that aim to give deep insights into the subjects being discussed. Timeless and bingeworthy.

    Jai Arjun Singh Lost It at the Movies

    Jai Arjun Singh Lost It at the Movies

    His writing is self-reflective, his humour is self-deprecatory, and he's one of our finest writers on cinema. Jai Arjun Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 230 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe how he to came to love cinema -- and how that love changed shape as he did.

    Also check out:
    1. Jabberwock -- Jai Arjun Singh's blog.
    2. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron: Seriously Funny Since 1983 -- Jai Arjun Singh.
    3. The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee -- Jai Arjun Singh.
    4. Popcorn Essayists -- Edited by Jai Arjun Singh.
    5. Seeing is believing? An essay about encounters with religious cinema -- Jai Arjun Singh.
    6. Meandering thoughts on the consumer-art relationship, glorification vs depiction, etc -- Jai Arjun Singh.
    7. In praise of “commercial” acting -- Jai Arjun Singh.
    8. One Moment Please -- Jai Arjun Singh's column for the Hindu.
    9. Jai Arjun Singh at Mint Lounge, Scroll and First Post.
    10. The First Assault on Our Constitution -- Episode 194 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tripurdaman Singh).
    11. Lessons in Investing (and Life) -- Episode 208 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Deepak Shenoy).
    12. Two Girls Hanging From a Tree -- Episode 209 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Sonia Faleiro).
    13. A Writer Learns to See -- Episode 215 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Annie Zaidi).
    14. Leonard Maltin's TV Movies and Video Guide 1991.
    15. Amit Varma's Twitter threads on the MAMI festival from 2018 and 2019.
    16. A Meditation on Form -- Amit Varma.
    17. The House of the Dead -- Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    18. Psycho -- Alfred Hitchcock.
    19. The 1980s films mentioned in this episode: Meri Jung, Mr India, Parinda, Tezaab, Eeshwar, Awaargi, Karma, Chameli Ki Shaadi, Saaheb, Teri Meherbaniya, Ghulami, Hathyar, Arjun.
    20. Dogme 95 (on Wikipedia).
    21. Sholay -- Ramesh Sippy.
    22. Jai Arjun Singh's many writings on Sholay.
    23. We all live in a Cannibal Holocaust -- Amit Varma.
    24. Ghost Stories -- Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee & Karan Johar.
    25. Eyes Without a Face -- Georges Franju.
    26. Amarcord & I Vitelloni -- Federico Fellini.
    27. Moonlight -- Barry Jenkins.
    28. David Dhawan and Krzysztof Kieślowski on Wikipedia.
    29. Piku -- Shoojit Sirkar.
    30. Jai Arjun Singh's writings on Piku.
    31. Jai Arjun Singh's talk at TEDxNSIT.
    32. Dead Poet's Society -- Peter Weir.
    33. Louie -- Louis CK.
    34. Kabir Singh, Leni Riefenstahl & The Birth of a Nation.
    35. Films, Feminism, Paromita -- Episode 155 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Paromita Vohra).
    36. The Kavita Krishnan Files -- Episode 228 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Kavita Krishnan).
    37. How Social Media Threatens Society -- Episode 8 of Brave New World, hosted by Vasant Dhar, featuring Jonathan Haidt.
    38. The Philadelphia Story -- George Cukor.
    39. The Wire -- created by David Simon.
    40. Dekalog -- Krzysztof Kieślowski.
    41. Casey Neistat on YouTube.
    42. Alan Moore's books on Amazon.
    43. Biwi aur Makan -- Hrishikesh Mukherjee.
    44. Ace in the Hole -- Billy Wilder.
    45. The Magic Faraway Tree Collecton -- Enid Blyton.
    46. Mrutyunjay -- Shivaji Sawant.
    47. The Unconsoled -- Kazuo Ishiguro.
    48. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Phentom of Liberty, That Obscure Object of Desire -- Luis Buñuel.
    49. Cinefan diary: Jean-Claude Carriere -- Jai Arjun Singh.
    50. Pauline Kael on Amazon.

    This episode is sponsored by Wondrium. Check out their series, How to Look at and Understand Great Art. For free unlimited access for a month, click here.

    Please subscribe to The India Uncut Newsletter. It’s free!

    And check out Amit’s online course, The Art of Clear Writing.

    • 3 hrs 3 min
    The Practice of Medicine

    The Practice of Medicine

    In these difficult times, no one's had a harder time than our medical professionals. They see death every day, and they fight it. What is it like to be a doctor in India? Lancelot Pinto joins Amit Varma in episode 229 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the practice of medicine in general, and the battle against Covid-19 in particular. Also discussed: the incentives of doctors, the importance of sleep, how to quit smoking, and the Epidemic of Sighing.

    Also check out:
    1. Past episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on Covid-19, featuring (in reverse chronological order) Ashwin Mahesh, Gautam Menon, Ajay Shah, Anirban Mahapatra, Ruben Mascarenhas, Chinmay Tumbe, Rukmini S, Vaidehi Tandel, Vivek Kaul, Anup Malani and Shruti Rajagopalan. 
    2. Robin Cook on Amazon.
    3. The Case Against Sugar — Gary Taubes.
    4. The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet — Nina Teicholz.
    5. UpToDate.
    6. Understanding Indian Healthcare -- Episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    7. Money for nothing: The dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India (2007) — Jishnu Das and Jeffrey Hammer. 
    8. Dunning-Kruger Effect (Wikipedia).
    9. Poker at Lake Wobegon -- Amit Varma.
    10. Bad Science -- Ben Goldacre.
    11. Homeopathic Faith (2010) -- Amit Varma.
    12. Beware of Quacks. Alternative Medicine is Injurious to Health -- Amit Varma.
    13. Is it risky to push alternative medicine in Covid pandemic? -- Lancelot Pinto.
    14. The Kavita Krishnan Files -- Episode 228 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    15. Amit Varma’s episode of The Book Club on Mary Wollstonecraft.
    16. Being Mortal -- Atul Gawande.
    17. How Doctors Die -- Ken Murray.
    18. Do not go gentle into that good night -- Dylan Thomas.
    19. 24 & Ready to Die -- Economist documentary on euthanasia.
    20. Complications -- Atul Gawande.
    21. My Own Country -- Abraham Verghese.
    22. Deep Medicine -- Eric Topol.
    23. Other books by Gawande and Verghese.  
    24. The Looming Tower -- Lawrence Wright.
    25. Do No Harm -- Henry Marsh.
    26. The Rules of Contagion -- Adam Kucharski.
    27. What Cricket Can Learn From Poker -- Amit Varma's essay on probabilistic thinking.
    28. The Cochrane Collaboration.

    Links on Sleep
    29. Lancelot Pinto's talk on sleep.
    30. Lancelot Pinto on Sleep Apnea
    31. What’s keeping you up at night? -- Lancelot Pinto.
    32. Are you terrified of falling asleep? -- Lancelot Pinto.
    33. Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams -- Matthew Walker.
    34. Tetris Dreams.

    Links on Tobacco Cessation
    35. Lancelot Pinto's Twitter thread on stopping smoking.
    36. Global Adult Tobacco Survey.
    37. The Odds of Ceasing to Smoke Tobacco -- A visual aid 

    Links on Tuberculosis
    38. Tuberculosis Management by Private Practitioners in Mumbai, India: Has Anything Changed in Two Decades? -- Zarir Udwadia, Lancelot Pinto & Mukund Uplekar.
    39. Private patient perceptions about a public programme -- Lancelot Pinto & Zareer Udwadia.
    40. Mismanagement of tuberculosis in India: Causes, consequences, and the way forward -- Anurag Bhargava, Lancelot Pinto & Madhukar Pai.
    41. A study on telemedicine during Covid-19 co-written by Lancelot Pinto.

    Links on Covid-19
    42. An interview of Lancelot Pinto & Rajani Bhat by Govindraj Ethiraj.
    43. India Covid SOS
    44. Lancelot Pinto and others interviewed by Barkha Dutt on changed Covid protocols..
    45. Lancelot Pinto and others interviewed by Barkha Dutt on the use of steroids for Covid treatment.
    46. Lancelot Pinto & Sumit Ray interviewed by Govindraj Ethirah on the need to update guidelines.
    47. A CT scan for COVID merits a word of caution -- Lancelot Pinto.
    48. Lancelot Pinto interviewed by Smitha Nair.
    49. Comprehensive Guidelines for Management of COVID-19 patients.

    This

    • 2 hrs 45 min
    The Kavita Krishnan Files

    The Kavita Krishnan Files

    We're well into the 21st century, but Indian society seems stuck in ages past -- especially when it comes to the state of our women. Kavita Krishnan joins Amit Varma in episode 228 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her evolution as a feminist, and what she has learned from her activism. 

    Also check out:
    1. Fearless Freedom -- Kavita Krishnan.
    2. Kavita Krishnan's speech in the anti-rape protests of 2012.
    3. Kavita Krishnan on the Tarun Tejpal verdict.
    4. Kavita Krishnan's Facebook posts on stalking and marital rape.
    5. Gendered Discipline in Globalising India -- Kavita Krishnan.
    6. Kavita Krishnan's Twitter thread on the Mahmood Farooqui case.
    7. Films, Feminism, Paromita -- Episode 155 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Paromita Vohra).
    8. Women at Work -- Episode 132 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Namita Bhandare).
    9. Metrics of Empowerment -- Episode 88 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Devika Kher, Nidhi Gupta and Hamsini Hariharan).
    10. The #MeToo Movement -- Episode 90 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Supriya Nair & Nikita Saxena).
    11. An Economist Looks at #MeToo -- Episode 92 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
    12. Misogyny is the Oldest Indian Tradition -- Amit Varma.
    13. Men Must Step Up Now -- Amit Varma.
    14. Over 1600 Teachers Died of COVID-19 After Poll Duty for Panchayat Elections -- Manoj Singh.
    15. Enid Blyton on Amazon.
    16. Little Women -- Louisa May Alcott.
    17. To Kill a Mockingbird -- Harper Lee.
    18. The Awakening, and Selected Short Stories -- Kate Chopin.
    19. Max Beerbohm and James Thurber on Amazon.
    20. Crime and Punishment -- Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    21. House of the Dead --  Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    22. Leaves From the Jungle -- Verrier Elwin.
    23. Private Truths, Public Lies -- Timur Kuran.
    24. Ram Ke Naam -- Documentary by Anand Patwardhan.
    25. The City & the City -- China Miéville.
    26. Remembering Chandu, Friend and Comrade -- Kavita Krishnan.
    27. Revolutionary Desires: Women, Communism, and Feminism in India -- Ania Loomba.
    28. Song of Myself -- Walt Whitman.
    29. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman -- Mary Wollstonecraft.
    30. Amit Varma's episode of The Book Club on Wollstonecraft's book.
    31. Who Stole Feminism? -- Chistina Hoff Sommers.
    32. The Blank Slate -- Steven Pinker.
    33. Feminism for the 99% -- Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya & Nancy Fraser.
    34. Resisting State Injustice -- Episode 120 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Jason Brennan).
    35. Marxvaad Aur Ram Rajya -- Karpatri Maharaj.
    36. Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India -- Akshaya Mukul.
    37. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism -- Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul).
    38. A People's Constitution -- Rohit De.
    39. Does India take its national symbols too seriously? -- Jan 2008 episode of We the People.
    40. The Ideas of Our Constitution -- Episode 164 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Madhav Khosla).
    41. Early Indians -- Episode 112 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tony Joseph).
    42. The History of Desire in India -- Episode 161 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Madhavi Menon).
    43. Young India -- Episode 83 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Snigdha Poonam).
    44. The First Assault on Our Constitution -- Episode 194 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tripurdaman Singh).
    45. Love jihad laws are a backlash to India’s own progress -- Shruti Rajagopalan.
    46. The Jackson Katz quote on passive sentence constructions.

    This episode is sponsored by CTQ Compounds. Check out The Daily Reader, FutureStack and The Social Capital Compound. Use the code UNSEEN for Rs 2500 off.

    Please subscribe to The India Uncut Newsletter. It’s free!

    And check out Amit’s online course, The Art of Clear Writing.

    • 4 hrs 18 min
    Taking Stock of Our Economy

    Taking Stock of Our Economy

    The Indian economy has been going downhill for a decade now. How has Covid-19 affected it? Ila Patnaik joins Amit Varma in episode 227 of The Seen and the Unseen to take stock of where we are today, and where we go from here.

    Also check out:
    1. Ila Patnaik at NIPFP, The Print, YouTube, Indian Express & Business Standard.
    2. Asia Confronts the Impossible Trinity -- Ila Patnaik & Ajay Shah.
    3. The Economics and Politics of Vaccines -- Episode 223 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ajay Shah).
    4. The Tragedy of Our Farm Bills -- Episode 211 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ajay Shah).
    5. The Art and Science of Economic Policy -- Episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah).
    6. In Service of the Republic -- Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah.
    7. India’s Lost Decade -- Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
    8. The Lost Decade -- Puja Mehra.
    9. What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been -- Episode 188 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Arvind Subramanian).
    10. The Fight of the Central Banker -- Episode 193 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Viral Acharya).
    11. Pandemonium in India’s Banks -- Episode 212 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tamal Bandyopadhyay.)
    12. Demystifying GDP -- Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta).
    13. The Indian Economy in 2019 -- Episode 153 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul).
    14. Two Economic Crises (2008 & 2019) -- Episode 135 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Mohit Satyanand).
    15. Twelve Dream Reforms -- Episode 138 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan, Rajeswari Sengupta and Vivek Kaul.)
    16. The Seen and the Unseen episodes on Demonetisation and GST.
    17.  Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.  
    18. Understanding Indian Healthcare -- Episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    19. Women at Work -- Episode 132 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Namita Bhandare).
    20. Past episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on Covid-19, featuring (in reverse chronological order) Ashwin Mahesh, Gautam Menon, Ajay Shah, Anirban Mahapatra, Ruben Mascarenhas, Chinmay Tumbe, Rukmini S, Vaidehi Tandel, Vivek Kaul, Anup Malani and Shruti Rajagopalan.
    21. India’s Problem is Poverty, Not Inequality -- Amit Varma.
    22. Anup Malani on India’s COVID Second Wave — Episode 13 of Season 5 of Grand Tamasha, hosted by Milan Vaishnav.
    23. Seeing Like a State -- James C Scott.
    24. Milton Friedman and PJ O'Rourke on Amazon.

    Please subscribe to The India Uncut Newsletter. It’s free!

    And check out Amit’s online course, The Art of Clear Writing.

    • 2 hrs 18 min
    Helping Others in the Fog of Pandemic

    Helping Others in the Fog of Pandemic

    Does shared suffering lead to greater empathy? There has been an outpouring of relief work during this pandemic, with citizens rushing to help other citizens where the state has failed. But there are complexities and moral dilemmas involved. Ashwin Mahesh joins Amit Varma in episode 226 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his experiences of organising relief at scale, and the importance of working with the state.

    Also check out:
    1. Participatory Democracy -- Episode 160 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ashwin Mahesh).
    2. Cities and Citizens -- Episode 198 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ashwin Mahesh).
    3. Understanding Indian Healthcare -- Episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    4. Past episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on Covid-19, featuring (in reverse chronological order) Gautam Menon, Ajay Shah, Anirban Mahapatra, Ruben Mascarenhas, Chinmay Tumbe, Rukmini S, Vaidehi Tandel, Vivek Kaul, Anup Malani and Shruti Rajagopalan.
    5. Despatches 36: The broader, continuing disaster -- Amit Varma.
    6. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma.
    7. Community: The Structure of Belonging -- Peter Block.
    8. History of European Morals -- WEH Lecky.
    9. The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress -- Peter Singer.
    10. Tolstoy’s Chicken and the Expanding Circle -- Amit Varma.
    11. The Astonishing Hypothesis -- Francis Crick.
    12. Resisting State Injustice -- Episode 120 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Jason Brennan).
    13. The Lake Wobegon Effect.
    14. Poker at Lake Wobegon -- Amit Varma.
    15. The Second Coming -- William Butler Yeats.

    This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Check out their course, The Great Revolutions of Modern History, taught by Lynne Ann Hartnett. For free unlimited access for a month, click here.

    Please subscribe to The India Uncut Newsletter. It’s free!

    And check out Amit’s online course, The Art of Clear Writing.

    • 3 hrs 5 min
    Understanding Indian Healthcare

    Understanding Indian Healthcare

    We may have been in denial earlier, but no more. Covid-19 has laid bare how badly India's healthcare system is broken. Before we can fix it, we must understand it. Karthik Muralidharan joins Amit Varma in episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on his many years of studying this field. The discussion also contains thoughts on whether GDP is edible, and a bout of antakshiri right at the end.

    Also check out:
    1. Fixing Indian Education -- Episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    2. Past episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on Covid-19, featuring (in reverse chronological order) Gautam Menon, Ajay Shah, Anirban Mahapatra, Ruben Mascarenhas, Chinmay Tumbe, Rukmini S, Vaidehi Tandel, Vivek Kaul, Anup Malani and Shruti Rajagopalan.
    3. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma.
    4. Participatory Democracy -- Episode 160 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ashwin Mahesh).
    5. Cities and Citizens -- Episode 198 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ashwin Mahesh).
    6. Urban Governance in India -- Episode 31 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
    7. A Scientist in the Kitchen -- Episode 204 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Krish Ashok).
    8. In Service of the Republic -- Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah.
    9. The Art and Science of Economic Policy -- Episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah).
    10. The Ultimate Resource -- Julian L Simon.
    11. Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength -- Amit Varma.
    12. Do Firms Underinvest in Long-term Research? -- Eric Budish, Benjamin N Roin & Heidi Williams.
    13. Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care -- Robert F Graboyes.
    14. Patents are Not the Problem! -- Alex Tabarrok.
    15. The Tabarrok Curve.
    16. The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development -- Michael Kremer.
    17. Why Abhijit Banerjee Had to Go Abroad to Achieve Glory -- Amit Varma.
    18. That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen -- Frédéric Bastiat.
    19. Lancelot Pinto's reply (about Asthma patients) to Amit Varma's tweet.
    20. Demystifying GDP -- Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta).
    And now, for some foundational papers:
    21. Which doctor? Combining vignettes and item response to measure clinical competence (2005)-- Jishnu Das & Jeffrey Hammer.
    22. Money for nothing: The dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India (2007) -- Jishnu Das and Jeffrey Hammer.
    23. Is There a Doctor in the House?: Medical Worker Absence in India (2011) -- Karthik Muralidharanan, Nazmul Chaudhury, Jeffrey Hammer, Michael Kremer & F Halsey Rogers.
    24. Quality and Accountability in Health Care Delivery: Audit-Study Evidence from Primary Care in India (2016) -- Jishnu Das, Alaka Holla, Aakash Mohpal & Karthik Muralidharan.
    25. The impact of training informal health care providers in India: A randomized controlled trial (2016)-- Jishnu Das, Abhijit Chowdhury, Reshmaan Hussam & Abhihit Banerjee.
    26. Two Indias: The structure of primary health care markets in rural Indian villages with implications for policy (2020)-- Jishnu Das, Benjamin Daniels, Monisha Ashok, Eun-Young Shim & Karthik Muralidharan.
    27. Augmenting State Capacity for Child Development: Experimental Evidence from India -- Alejandro J. Ganimian, Karthik Muralidharan & Christopher R Walters.
    Back to regular links to stuff discussed in the episode!
    28. The Girl From Haryana -- Amit Varma (on Sakshi Malik and women wrestlers in Haryana).
    29. The IndiaSpend interview of Rajani Bhat & Lancelot Pinto by Govindraj Ethiraj, (Also in Hindi.)
    30. Beware of Quacks. Alternative Medicine is Injurious to Health -- Amit Varma.
    31. Homeopathic Faith -- Amit Varma.
    32. Deep Medicine -- Eric Topol.
    33. The Market for Lemons -- George Akerloff.
    34. The Medical Council of India -- Epi

    • 3 hrs 47 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
419 Ratings

419 Ratings

@Rohwit ,

Brilliant!

Just brilliant! Love the topics and the arc of every discussion here. You feel enriched and much more aware about the universe we inherit. Amit Varma is a genius and he should be celebrated. Even if you are not from India, this podcast has a lot for you. Give it a try.

Grpleo ,

Amazing conversations

Amit’s podcast covers a variety of topics of general interest. He engages in long conversations with his guests, and delves deep into all the aspects of both the guests’ personal background as well as the topic of the episode.

With each episode offering something of value, this is one unmissable, high quality podcast show from India.

simplyanand ,

India’s best podcast

There - that’s the review….!

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