237 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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    • 4.8 • 151 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.

    Kavitha Rao and Our Lady Doctors

    Kavitha Rao and Our Lady Doctors

    Back in the 19th century, women were supposed to stay home and learn cooking and needlework -- but some dared to fight the odds and get an education. Some even became doctors. Kavitha Rao joins Amit Varma in episode 235 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss her new book on six pioneering lady doctors. Also discussed: the craft of writing and storytelling, and the endless possibility for late bloomers.

    Also check out:
    1. Lady Doctors: The Untold Stories of India's First Women in Medicine -- Kavitha Rao.
    2. Kavitha Rao's other books on Amazon.
    3. I grew up as an Indian expat in Iran, before the revolution -- Kavitha Rao.
    4. The Memoirs of Dr Haimabati Sen -- Haimabati Sen (translated by Tapan Raychoudhuri).
    5. Crossing Thresholds -- Meera Kosambi.
    6. A Fragmented Feminism -- Meera Kosambi.
    7. The Art of Narrative Nonfiction -- Episode 183 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Samanth Subramanian).
    8. Following Fish -- Samanth Subramanian.
    9. A Dominant Character -- Samanth Subramanian.
    10. Killers of the Flower Moon -- David Grann.
    11. The Squid Hunter -- David Grann.
    12. David Grann in the New Yorker.
    13. Our Colorful Past -- Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    14. Kerala and the Ivory Throne -- Episode 156 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    15. The Deccan Before Shivaji -- Episode 98 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    16. Manu Pillai's books on Amazon.
    17. Women in Indian History -- Episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ira Mukhoty).
    18. Ira Mukhoty's books on Amazon.
    19. Young India -- Episode 83 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Snigdha Poonam).
    20. Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing Their World -- Snigdha Poonam.
    21. Bad Blood -- John Carreyrou.
    22. 52..
    23. Collision -- Bhavya Dore.
    24. The #MeToo Movement -- Episode 90 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Supriya Nair and Nikita Saxena).
    25. Yentl -- Directed by Barbra Streisand (Wikipedia link).
    26. The Gate of Angels -- Penelope Fitzgerald.
    27. The Blue Flower -- Penelope Fitzgerald.
    28. The Bookshop -- Penelope Fitzgerald.
    29. How Social Media Threatens Society -- Episode 8 of Brave New World, hosted by Vasant Dhar, featuring Jonathan Haidt.
    30. The BJP Before Modi -- Episode 202 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vinay Sitapati).
    31. Superior -- Angela Saini.
    32. Modeling Covid-19 -- Episode 224 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gautam Menon).

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

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

    • 3 hr 36 min
    Kanti Bajpai on India vs China

    Kanti Bajpai on India vs China

    What exactly is going on between India and China? When cooperation would lead to a win-win game, why is there conflict? Kanti Bajpai joins Amit Varma in episode 234 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his Four Ps framework for understanding this conflict. Also discussed: academia, public intellectuals, how one learns, and why writing and teaching make you a better thinker

    Also check out:
    1. India Versus China : Why They Are Not Friends -- Kanti Bajpai.
    2. Roots of Terrorism -- Kanti Bajpai.
    3. Kanti Bajpai on Amazon.
    4. The China Dude Is in the House -- Episode 231 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani).
    5. The Dragon and the Elephant — Episode 181 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Hamsini Hariharan & Shibani Mehta).
    6. What Does China Want? — Episode 143 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani).
    7. Understanding Terrorism -- Amit Varma's 2007 review of Alan Krueger's What Makes a Terorrist.
    8. Soft Power: The Means To Success In World Politics -- Joseph Nye.
    9. The Future of Power -- Joseph Nye.
    10. Roam Research.
    11. Why India and China Are Not Friends -- Kanti Bajpai on The Grand Tamasha podcast, hosted by Milan Vaishnav.
    12. A Cricket Tragic Celebrates the Game -- Episode 201 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ramachandra Guha).
    13. The Hedgehog And The Fox -- Isaiah Berlin.
    14. Kishore Mahbubani on Amazon.
    15. Imagined Communities -- Benedict Anderson.
    16. Memories and Things -- Episode 195 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aanchal Malhotra).
    17. The Mahatma and the Poet — The Tagore-Gandhi debates.
    18. From Heaven Lake -- Vikram Seth.
    19. Finding India in China -- Anurag Viswanath.
    20. Strangers across the Border -- Reshma Patil.

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

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

    • 3 hr 33 min
    Pranay Kotasthane Talks Public Policy

    Pranay Kotasthane Talks Public Policy

    Public policy may seem like a dull subject fit only for wonks, but it matters: our lives are deeply affected by what our governments do. Pranay Kotasthane joins Amit Varma in episode 233 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about his intellectual journey, his private beach and why public policy can be so stimulating. He also answers racy questions from the Twitterverse.

    If you share Pranay's interest in public policy, you should check out Takshashila's Graduate Certificate in Public Policy (GCPP).

    Also check out:
    1. Anticipating the Unintended -- Pranay Kotasthane's newsletter (with RSJ).
    2. Puliyabaazi -- Pranay Kotasthane's podcast (with Saurabh Chandra).
    3. Foreign Policy is a Big Deal -- Episode 170 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane & Manoj Kewalramani).
    4. Radically Networked Societies -- Episode 158 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane).
    5. Older episodes of The Seen and the Unseen w Pranay Kotasthane: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
    6. Raghu Sanjaylal Jaitley’s Father’s Scooter -- Episode 214 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Raghu Sanjaylal Jaitley).
    7. ये लिबरल आख़िर है कौन? -- Episode 37 of Puliyabaazi (w Amit Varma).
    8. Amit Varma's tweet thread soliciting questions for this episode.
    9. Examples of Pranay Kotasthane's Mind Maps of books: 1, 2, 3.
    10. Coggle.
    11. The Lessons of History -- Will Durant.
    12. Raj Comics.
    13. The China Dude Is in the House -- Episode 231 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani).
    14. A Case For Societism -- Pranay Kotasthane.
    15. Pranay Kotasthane's Manthan talk on societism.
    16. The Indian Dream Podcast episode with Amit Varma.
    17. 8 things to unlearn before learning public policy -- Pranay Kotasthane.
    18. The Double 'Thank-You' Moment -- John Stossel.
    19.  Opportunity Cost Neglect in Public Policy -- Emil Persson and Gustav Tinghög.
    20. Whose Money is it Anyway? -- Amit Varma.
    21. The 4 Ways to Spend Money -- Milton Friedman.
    22. Discover Your Inner Economist -- Tyler Cowen.
    23. In Service of the Republic — Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah.
    24. The Art and Science of Economic Policy -- Episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah).
    25. Amit Varma's prescient 2017 tweet on the price caps on stents.
    26. Episodes of the Seen and the Unseen on GST with Devangshu Datta, Vivek Kaul and Shruti Rajagopalan.
    26. Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.
    27. Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards — Amit Varma
    28. Episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on Demonetisation with Suyash Rai and Shruti Rajagopalan.
    29. The Delhi Smog -- Episode 44 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul).
    30. Bootleggers and Baptists-The Education of a Regulatory Economist -- Bruce Yandle.
    31. Pigs Don't Fly: The Economic Way of Thinking about Politics -- Russell Roberts.
    32. Raees: An Empty Shell of a Gangster Film -- Amit Varma.
    33. Shubhra Gupta's review about which Tapsee Pannu kicked up such a fuss.
    34. The Tragedy of Our Farm Bills -- Episode 211 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ajay Shah).
    35. Wilson's Interest Group Matrix -- Charles Cameron from The Political Analyst’s Toolkit.
    36. Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working -- Jonathan Rauch.
    37. The Great Redistribution -- Amit Varma.
    38. Behave -- Robert Sapolsky.
    39. Robert Sapolsky's lectures on YouTube.
    40. Elite Imitation in Public Policy -- Episode 180 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan & Alex Tabarrok).
    41. Taxes Should Be Used for Governance, Not Politics -- Amit Varma.
    42. Every Act of Government Is an Act of Violence -- Amit Varma.
    43. The First Assault on Our Constitution -- Episode 194 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tripurdaman Singh).
    44. The Emergency -- Episode 103 o

    • 3 hr 37 min
    Understanding India Through Its Languages

    Understanding India Through Its Languages

    The problem with the past is that it's over. How can we enter distant history and understand what happened? Language is one way. Peggy Mohan joins Amit Varma in episode 232 of The Seen and the Unseen to share her insights on what the evolution of our languages reveals about how we got here. 

    Also check out:
    1. Wanderers, Kings, Merchants: The Story of India through Its Languages -- Peggy Mohan.
    2. Peggy Mohan's books on Amazon.
    3. Amit Varma's Twitter thread on episodes of The Seen and the Unseen about India.
    4. Early Indians -- Episode 112 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tony Joseph).
    5. India = Migration -- Episode 128 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Chinmay Tumbe).
    6. The Art of Translation -- Episode 168 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Arunava Sinha).
    7. The Indianness of Indian Food -- Episode 95 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vikram Doctor).
    8. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Spanish) (English) -- Gabriel García Márquez.
    9. Songs of Kabir -- Translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.
    10. Essential Kabir -- Translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.
    11. I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Dĕd -- Translated by Ranjit Hoskote.
    12. On Language -- Noam Chomsky.
    13. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language -- Steven Pinker.
    14. The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor -- Translated by WM Thackston Jr.
    15. Guns, Germs and Steel: Jared Diamond.
    16. Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism -- Niles Eldredge & Steven Jay Gould. (Also, criticism of it.)
    17. Genesis of Ṛgvedic Retroflexion -- Madhav Deshpande.
    18. Linguistics, Style and Writing in the 21st Century -- A talk by Steven Pinker.
    19. Hindi Nationalism -- Alok Rai.
    20. A House Divided: Origin and Development of Hindi/Hindavi -- Amrit Rai.
    21. Hindustani Musalmaan - Hussain Haidry.
    22. Hum Kagaz Nahin Dikhayenge -- Varun Grover.
    23. The Emperor of All Maladies -- Siddhartha Mukherjee.
    24. The Song of the Dodo -- David Quammen.
    25. The Tangled Tree -- David Quammen.
    26. Spillover -- David Quammen.
    27. Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib on Amazon.

    This episode is sponsored by Wondrium. Check out their series, The Story of Human Language. For free unlimited access for 14 days, click here.

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

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

    • 2 hr 47 min
    The China Dude Is in the House

    The China Dude Is in the House

    Bollywood lost him, journalism wasted him, and thank goodness for that. Manoj Kewalramani, the foreign policy analyst also known as The China Dude, joins Amit Varma in episode 231 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his brilliant new book on post-Covid China, Smokeless War. Also discussed: Lokhandwala Cafes and the art of building narratives.

    Also check out:
    1. Smokeless War: China's Quest for Geopolitical Dominance -- Manoj Kewalramani.
    2. Eye on China -- Manoj Kewalramani's newsletter. (+ older archives at Pragati.)
    3. The Takshashila Institution.
    4. What Does China Want? -- Episode 143 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani).
    5. Chinese Foreign Policy -- Episode 81 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani).
    6. Foreign Policy is a Big Deal -- Episode 170 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane & Manoj Kewalramani).
    7. The Dragon and the Elephant -- Episode 181 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Hamsini Hariharan & Shibani Mehta).
    8. Keeping India Safe -- Episode 219 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Sushant Singh).
    9. Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength -- Amit Varma.
    10. Profit = Philanthropy -- Amit Varma.
    11. Under the Dome -- Documentary by Chai Jing.
    12. The Invention of China -- Bill Hayton.
    13. China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy -- Peter Martin.
    14. The Prem Panicker Files -- Episode 217 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Prem Panicker).
    15. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma.
    16. Narendra Modi takes a Great Leap Backwards -- Amit Varma (on Mao, sparrows, great leaps etc).
    17. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice — David Galula.
    18. We Won’t Need To Fight A War If We Can Win The Peace — Amit Varma.
    19. Policy Paradox – The Art of Political Decision Making -- Deborah Stone.
    20. Homeopathic Faith (2010) -- Amit Varma.
    21. Demystifying GDP -- Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta).
    22. Where Anna Hazare Gets It Wrong -- Amit Varma.
    23. Sample SSR consipracy theory: He's alive!
    24. NCovMemory repository in English.
    25. Terminus 2049.
    26. Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City -- Fang Fang.
    27. COVID-19, China and Anatomy of Fang Fang Phenomenon -- Hemant Adlakha.
    28. Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century -- Orville Schell & John Delury. 
    29. Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism -- Maria Repnikova.
    30. The China Questions – Critical Insights into a Rising Power -- Edited by Jennifer Rudolph & Michael Szonyi.

    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 hr 7 min
    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 Phantom 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 14 days, 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 hr 3 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
151 Ratings

151 Ratings

Sumukha r ,

One of the few awesome podcasted centered on India

Very well researched, well produced.
It’s a must listen for anyone who wants to understand this ancient and complicated land called India.

Throwaway122290 ,

Insightful

This podcast has taught me so much about India and about economics!

vvgiri ,

Great podcast but waaay too long!

The podcast covers the most important economic topics in a very well researched, very engaging manner. If edited to under 1 hr., id give it 5 stars. The initial chit chat is way too long.

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