250 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

    • News
    • 4.8 • 160 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.

    The Decline of the Congress

    The Decline of the Congress

    The Congress Party once dominated Indian politics. Today, it's on the outside looking in. Rahul Verma joins Amit Varma in episode 248 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the complex social and political factors behind this massive decline. 

    Also check out:
    1. Political Ideology in India -- Episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rahul Verma).
    2. Ideology and Identity: The Changing Party Systems of India -- Pradeep K Chhibber and Rahul Verma.
    3. Taking Stock of Our Republic -- Episode 157 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ramachandra Guha).
    4. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism -- Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul).
    5. Religion and Ideology in Indian Society — Episode 124 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Suyash Rai).
    6. The BJP Before Modi -- Episode 202 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vinay Sitapati).
    7. The BJP’s Magic Formula — Episode 45 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Prashant Jha).
    8. The First Assault on Our Constitution — Episode 194 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Tripurdaman Singh).
    9. Who Broke Our Republic? — Episode 163 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Kapil Komireddi).
    10. The Life and Times of Vir Sanghvi -- Episode 236 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    11. The Emergency of 1975 -- Episode 103 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gyan Prakash).
    12. India’s Lost Decade -- Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
    13. The Business of Winning Elections -- Episode 247 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shivam Shankar Singh).
    14. The Importance of the 1991 Reforms -- Episode 237 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan and Ajay Shah).
    15. The Baptist, the Bootlegger and the Dead Man Walking -- Amit Varma.
    16. Caste in Indian Politics -- Rajni Kothari.
    17. Politics In India -- Rajni Kothari.
    18. Lessons from an Ankhon Dekhi Prime Minister -- Amit Varma.
    19. The Burden of Democracy -- Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
    20. Myron Weiner, Saadat Hasan Manto, Shivani and Harishankar Parsai on Amazon.
    21. Murdahiya -- Dr Tulsiram.
    22. Raag Darbari (Hindi) (English) -- Shrilal Shukla.
    23. Dynastic parties: Organization, finance and impact -- Pradeep Chhibber.
    24. 24 Akbar Road -- Rashid Kidwai.
    25.  Congress after Indira: Policy, Power, Political Change -- Zoya Hasan.
    26. The future of the Congress party -- A Conversation between Yamini Aiyar, Zoya Hasan and Rahul Verma.
    27. Why big companies squander brilliant ideas -- Tim Harford.
    28. A Game Theory Problem: Who Will Bell The Congress Cat? -- Amit Varma.
    29. Mahua Moitra interviewed by Barkha Dutt.
    30. Democracy without Associations -- Pradeep K Chibber.
    31. Are You Anchored to the Past? -- Amit Varma.

    This episode is sponsored by Intel. 

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

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

    • 3 hr 25 min
    The Business of Winning Elections

    The Business of Winning Elections

    Our political parties suck at governance but excel at narratives, as that's what wins them elections. Shivam Shankar Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 247 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe his experiences at the heart of different political machines.

    Also check out:
    1. How to Win an Indian Election -- Shivam Shankar Singh.
    2. The Art Of Conjuring Alternate Realities -- Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan.
    3. LAMP Fellowships.
    4. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha websites.
    5. Why I Am Resigning From the BJP -- Shivam Shankar Singh.
    6. Is Parliament’s questions system broken? — Here’s how to fix it! -- Shivam Shankar Singh.
    7. Episode of The Seen and the Unseen on China, in reverse chronological order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
    8. In Absentia: Where are India’s conservative intellectuals? -- Ramachandra Guha.
    9. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism -- Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul).
    10. Political Ideology in India -- Episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rahul Verma).
    11. Dreamers: How Indians are Changing the World -- Snigdha Poonam.
    12. Young India -- Episode 83 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Snigdha Poonam).
    13. Maharashtra Politics Unscrambled -- Episode 151 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Sujatha Anandan).
    14. The Lost Decade — Puja Mehra.
    15. India's Lost Decade -- Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
    16. The Importance of the 1991 Reforms -- Episode 237 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan and Ajay Shah).
    17. Hamsini Hariharan's tweet on 'Indic'.
    18. Private Truths, Public Lies -- Timur Kuran.
    19. The Facts Do Not Matter -- Amit Varma.
    20. Sample SSR conspiracy theory: He’s alive!
    21. Fighting Fake News -- Episode 133 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pratik Sinha).
    22. Range Rover -- The archives of Amit Varma's poker columns for the Economic Times.
    23. A Tale Of Two Bandits: Naxals And The Indian State -- Amit Varma
    24. Power and Prosperity -- Mancur Olson.
    25. When Crime Pays — Milan Vaishnav.
    26. Crime in Indian Politics -- Episode 114 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Milan Vaishnav).
    27. Politics -- A limerick by Amit Varma.
    28. Government's End -- Jonathan Rauch.
    29. The Anti-Defection Law -- Episode 13 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Barun Mitra).
    30. The Barkha Dutt Files -- Episode 243 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Barkha Dutt).
    31. Urban Governance in India -- Episode 31 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan).
    32. The BJP Before Modi -- Episode 202 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vinay Sitapati).
    33. How the BJP wins: Inside India’s Greatest Election Machine -- Prashant Jha.
    34. The BJP’s Magic Formula -- Episode 45 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Prashant Jha).
    35. Politics and the Sociopath -- Amit Varma.
    36. A Life in Indian Politics -- Episode 149 of The Seen and the Unseen (w JP Narayan).
    37. The Dictator's Handbook -- Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith.
    38. The Psychology of Money -- Morgan Housel.
    39. The Silent Coup: A History of India’s Deep State — Josy Joseph.
    40. India’s Security State -- Episode 242 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Josy Joseph).
    41. Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus on Amazon.

    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.

    • 3 hr 33 min
    The Life and Times of Ayaz Memon

    The Life and Times of Ayaz Memon

    Over the last few decades, India has changed, cricket has changed, our media has changed -- and one man has seen it all. Ayaz Memon joins Amit Varma in episode 246 of The Seen and the Unseen to reflect on some of what he has seen and learnt.

    Also check out:
    1. Indian Innings: The Journey of Indian Cricket from 1947 -- Edited by Ayaz Memon.
    2. Cricket-related episodes of The Seen and the Unseen with Harsha Bhogle, Sharda Ugra, Ramachandra Guha, Prem Panicker and Gideon Haigh+Prem Panicker.
    3. The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.
    4. The Wisden Book of Test Cricket (1877-1977) -- Compiled & edited by Bill Frindall.
    5. The Test where India beat Australia at Brabourne Stadium, 1964.
    6. Sachin Tendulkar's first Test, Sunil Gavaskar's last Test, Kapil Dev's 175 and the 1983 World Cup final.
    7. Opportunity, Choice and the IPL (2008) -- Amit Varma.
    8. What cricket can learn from poker -- Amit Varma.
    9. The Tamasha All Purists Should Love -- Amit Varma.
    10. Beyond a Boundary -- CLR James.
    11. Neville Cardus and Jack Fingleton on Amazon.
    12. The Picador Book of Cricket -- Edited by Ramachandra Guha.
    13. Hardcore History -- Dan Carlin.
    14. How Social Media Threatens Society -- Episode 8 of Brave New World.
    15. Kicking Schoolbags (2006) -- Amit Varma.
    16. The Jubilee Test, 1980.
    17. My Cricketing Years -- Ajit Wadekar.
    18. Sunny Days -- Sunil Gavaskar.
    19. The Life and Times of Vir Sanghvi -- Episode 236 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    20. Deep Work -- Cal Newport.
    21. Unlikely is Inevitable -- Amit Varma.
    22. The abandoned ODI at Sialkot, October 31, 1984.
    23. Mankad's Test, India's first Test win, Gavaskar's 29th, Gavaskar's 30th.
    24. R Ashwin's YouTube channel.

    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 3 min
    The Dark Side of Indian Pharma

    The Dark Side of Indian Pharma

    When we pick up medicine from our nearby chemist, we assume that we are getting what we pay for. That trust may be misplaced. Dinesh Thakur joins Amit Varma in episode 245 of The Seen and the Unseen to share the story of the Ranbaxy fraud, and the shoddy state of Indian pharma today.

    Also check out:
    1. Dinesh Thakur's foundation, blog and Twitter.
    2. Bottle of Lies : Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma -- Katherine Eban.
    3. The Impact of Regulatory Structure on Quality of Medicines in India -- Talk by Dinesh Thakur.
    4. Dinesh Thakur interviewed by News Laundry, Lallantop and The Accad and Koka Report.
    5. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is in denial over drug-quality charges -- Dinesh Thakur.
    6. Pharma industry’s playbook on low-quality drugs -- Dinesh Thakur and Prashant Reddy Thikkavarapu.
    7. India’s drug regulator has failed the pandemic stress test -- Dinesh Thakur.
    8. In generic drug plants in China and India, data falsification is still a problem -- Katherine Eban and Sony Salzman.
    9. Healing the Pharmacy of the World -- KL Sharma.
    10. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism -- Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul).
    11. Science and Covid-19 -- Episode 221 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Anirban Mahapatra).
    12. Slow Ideas -- Atul Gawande.
    13. Understanding Indian Healthcare -- Episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    14. The Economics and Politics of Vaccines -- Episode 223 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ajay Shah).
    15. We Must Save Our Farmers -- Amit Varma.
    16. ‘Killer cough syrup’ maker failed quality tests several times -- Times of India report on the Jammu deaths.
    17. Why lethal cough syrup slipped past the law -- Prabha Raghavan and Arun Sharma.
    18. COVID-19: Hundreds Of Clinical Trials Under Way In India, Many Lack Rigour, Say Experts -- Anoo Bhuyan.
    19. Clinical trial database hole -- GS Mudur.
    20. CDSCO faces CIC ire over ‘misplaced’ 2013 report on ‘irregular’ approval to drugs -- Prabha Raghavan.
    21. A Report on Drug Regulator CDSCO’s ‘Irregular’ Approvals Has Gone ‘Missing’ -- The Wire staff.
    22. New CDSCO Disclosure Reveals Quality of Medicines Sold in India -- Samir Malhotra.
    23. On US blacklist, in India they are in the grey zone -- Ritu Sarin, Kaunain Sheriff M and Jaz Mazoomdar.
    24. Poor quality drugs caused Niloufer maternal deaths: Doctors' panel -- Syed Akbar.
    25. 2014 Bilaspur tubectomy deaths: Absconding pharma firm director held -- PTI news report.
    26. Clinical Trials in India Need Better Regulations -- Shah Alam Khan.
    27. Mozambique raises quality concerns on Indian drug exports -- Deepak Patel.
    28. Drug regulation: 27 medicines sold by top firms ‘fail’ quality tests in seven states -- Deepak Patel.
    29. 39 Indian drug companies blacklisted by Vietnam -- Pranshu Rathi.
    30. Drugs with carcinogenic toxins: banned elsewhere, sold in India -- Priyanka Pulla.

    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.

    • 3 hr 14 min
    The Multitudes of Our Maharajahs

    The Multitudes of Our Maharajahs

    India's Maharajahs get a bad rap. Both the British empire and our freedom fighters pushed wrong stereotypes about them. Manu Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 244 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about the multitudes of our maharajahs -- and much else that matters.

    Also check out:
    1. Manu Pillai's Website, Twitter and Instagram.
    2. False Allies: India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma -- Manu Pillai.
    3. Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore -- Manu Pillai.
    4. Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji -- Manu Pillai.
    5. The Courtesan, the Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin -- Manu Pillai.
    6. Kerala and the Ivory Throne -- Episode 156 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    7. Our Colorful Past -- Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    8. The Deccan Before Shivaji -- Episode 98 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai).
    9. Sudhir Sarnobat's epic tweet summing up the first 200 episodes of The Seen and the Unseen.
    10. The Hunter Becomes the Hunted -- Episode 200 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    11. A Matter of Rats -- Amitava Kumar.
    12. Piercing -- Ryu Murakami.
    13. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil -- Hannah Arendt.
    14. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome -- Mary Beard.
    15. The Mapilla Rebellion of Malabar -- Manu Pillai.
    16. The many shades of the Mappila insurrection -- Manu Pillai.
    17. Malevolent Republic — Kapil Komireddi.
    18. Who Broke Our Republic? -- Episode 163 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Kapil Komireddi).
    19. Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation -- The Pew Center Research survey of religion in India. (Also: 1, 2.)
    20. A Meditation on Form -- Amit Varma.
    21. Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism — Dinyar Patel.
    22. Dadabhai Naoroji and the Fight for India -- Episode 187 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Dinyar Patel).
    23. Understanding India Through Its Languages -- Peggy Mohan.
    24. Young India -- Episode 83 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Snigdha Poonam).
    25. Royals and Rebels: The Rise and Fall of the Sikh Empire -- Priya Atwal.
    26. VP Menon: The Unsung Architect of Modern India — Narayani Basu.
    27. India’s Greatest Civil Servant -- Episode 167 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Narayani Basu).
    28. India’s Security State -- Episode 242 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Josy Joseph).
    29. Lessons from 1975 -- Amit Varma (2015 piece).
    30. There Comes Papa.

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

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

    • 3 hr 22 min
    The Barkha Dutt Files

    The Barkha Dutt Files

    In the last 25 years, India has changed, journalism has changed and Barkha Dutt has been at the frontlines. She joins Amit Varma in episode 243 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about how we got here, and the lessons of these years.

    Also check out:
    1. Barkha Dutt on Twitter, Instagram and the Washington Post.
    2. Mojo Story on YouTube.
    3. This Unquiet Land: Stories from India's Fault Lines -- Barkha Dutt.
    4. The Nurture Assumption -- Judith Rich Harris.
    5. Barkha Dutt's conversation with Deep Sidhu.
    6. What They Did Yesterday Afternoon -- Warsan Shire.
    7. We The Women on Facebook.
    8. Memories and Things -- Episode 195 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aanchal Malhotra).
    9. Little Crazy Love Song -- Mary Oliver.

    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.

    • 2 hr 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
160 Ratings

160 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.

VI5HK ,

Good memories

I have enjoyed listening to many guests on your show& the path that has helped them work on social issues in different situations. Good questions from the host!

Bugsnest ,

Long form discussion at its best!

This is the podcast equivalent of a research paper or a scholarly article in a serious publication. It’s very long, filled with great data and always informative. Amit Verma amazes me with his depth and breadth of knowledge on diverse topics. His own life journey as a sports writer, advertising guy, early blogger, professional poker player etc. is a testament to his hyper curious, intellectual pursuit of all things seen and unseen!

What makes this podcast very interesting is Amit’s ability to articulate complex thoughts and frame the discussion to both accentuate and simplify complex ideas and policies in the field of economics, politics and social sciences. His guests are clearly at ease and they are given the space to elaborate and explore. Amit’s questions can sometimes be about 5 minutes long and filled with examples and anecdotes, which can sometimes seem a tad frustrating, but it always has the effect of preparing the guest for a thoughtful response. Among the episodes I have heard, it’s clear that the guests are very engaged and open.

The only criticism I have is perhaps the digressions sometimes can be meandering and there’s often too much emphasis on obscure books and quotes that don’t add to the experience. If these were edited out, you could have a tighter and buttoned down 2 hour episode versus 4… But like any good research publication, these episodes are not intended to be consumed in one sitting or casually, so the (extra) long form could be justified :)

Top Podcasts In News

You Might Also Like