292 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 • 187 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.

    Karthik Muralidharan Examines the Indian State

    Karthik Muralidharan Examines the Indian State

    In 1947, few people gave us 75 years. Bloody hell, here we are! And it is up to us now to make this country the best version of itself. Karthik Muralidharan joins Amit Varma in episode 290 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss one of our problem areas: the Indian state. Can we fix it? Yes we can!

    (For full linked show notes, go to SeenUnseen.in.)

    Also check out:
    1. Karthik Muralidharan on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Scholar and UCSD.
    2. Centre for Effective Governance of Indian States (CEGIS)
    3. Fixing Indian Education -- Episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    4. Understanding Indian Healthcare -- Episode 225 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    5. General equilibrium effects of (improving) public employment programs: experimental evidence from India -- The paper on NREGA by Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus and Sandip Sukhtankar.
    6. Kashmir and Article 370 -- Episode 134 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan).
    7. The Citizenship Battles -- Episode 152 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan).
    8. The Loneliness of the Indian Woman — Episode 259 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shrayana Bhattacharya).
    9. In Service of the Republic — Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah.
    10. The Art and Science of Economic Policy — Episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah).
    11. Pramit Bhattacharya Believes in Just One Ism -- Episode 256 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pramit Bhattacharya).
    12. The Paradox of Narendra Modi — Episode 102 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shashi Tharoor).
    13. The Life and Times of Montek Singh Ahluwalia -- Episode 285 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Montek Singh Ahluwalia).
    14. Episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on the creator ecosystem with Roshan Abbas, Varun Duggirala, Neelesh Misra, Snehal Pradhan, Chuck Gopal, Nishant Jain, Deepak Shenoy and Abhijit Bhaduri.
    15. The Case Against Sugar — Gary Taubes.
    16. The Big Fat Surprise — Nina Teicholz.
    17. The Forgotten Greatness of PV Narasimha Rao -- Episode 283 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vinay Sitapati).
    18. The Macroeconomist as Scientist and Engineer -- N Gregory Mankiw.
    19. The Gated Republic -- Shankkar Aiyar.
    20. Despite the State — M Rajshekhar.
    21. The Power Broker— Robert Caro.
    22. The Death and Life of Great American Cities — Jane Jacobs.
    23. India’s Security State -- Episode 242 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Josy Joseph).
    24. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma.
    25. India’s Lost Decade — Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
    26. The Importance of the 1991 Reforms -- Episode 237 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan and Ajay Shah).
    27. State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century — Francis Fukuyama.
    28. The Origins of Political Order — Francis Fukuyama.
    29. Political Order and Political Decay — Francis Fukuyama.
    30. Computer Nahi Monitor -- Episode 5 of season 1 of Panchayat.
    31. Naushad Forbes Wants to Fix India -- Episode 282 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    32. Courts Redux: Micro-Evidence from India -- Manaswini Rao.
    33.  The Checklist Manifesto -- Atul Gawande.
    34. Annie Hall -- Woody Allen.
    35. The Politics Limerick -- Amit Varma.
    36. The Decline of the Congress -- Episode 248 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rahul Verma).
    37. The Burden of Democracy -- Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
    38. A Theory of Clientelistic Politics versus Programmatic Politics -- Pranab Bardhan and Dilip Mookherjee.
    39. Power and Prosperity — Mancur Olson.
    40. The Business of Winning Elections -- Episode 247 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shivam Shankar Singh).
    41. Premature load bearing: Evidence, Analysis, Action -- Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock.
    42. A Meditation on Form — Amit Varma.
    43. Religion and Ideology in Indian Society -- Episode 124 of

    • 5 hr 10 min
    Shruti Jahagirdar is the Sporty One

    Shruti Jahagirdar is the Sporty One

    She's skated down tekdis, played volleyball for her state, run through deserts and wrestled a bear with her bare hands. Ok, not the last one. Shruti Jahagirdar joins Amit Varma in episode 289 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss women's sports in India, fitness, nutrition and a world without limits.

    Also check out:
    1. Shruti Jahagirdar on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
    2. Halomi Fitness, Shruti Jahagirdar's startup.
    3. The Evolution of Cricket -- Episode 97 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Harsha Bhogle).
    4. Building Sports Ecosystems -- Episode 126 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Joy Bhattacharjya).
    5. The State of Indian Sport -- Episode 238 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Joy Bhattacharjya and Nandan Kamath).
    6. Other episodes of The Seen and the Unseen on sport with Ram Guha, Prem Panicker, Sharda Ugra, Ayaz Memon, Snehal Pradhan and Pradeep Magazine.
    7. Wait But Why by Tim Urban.
    8. This Ramesh Nagdev was a blazing bat -- Makarand Waingankar.
    9. Chak De! India -- Shimit Amin.
    10. The Sporting Spirit — George Orwell.
    11. Allah Ke Bande -- Kailash Kher.
    12. Kusha Kapila and the B-Plus Baccha..
    13. Wanting — Luke Burgis.
    14. Atomic Habits -- James Clear.
    15. Barefoot in the Park -- Neil Simon.
    16. Tiger Muay Thai.
    17. Former British Boxing Champ Julius Francis knocks out troublemaker.
    18. Gimme Mo -- Mohit Satyanand's newsletter.
    19. The Bell Hooks quote posted by Shruti Jahagirdar.
    20. Everybody Lies — Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.
    21. The Mary Oliver quote posted by Shruti Jahagirdar.
    22. The Case Against Sugar — Gary Taubes.
    23. The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet — Nina Teicholz.
    24. The Obesity Code — Jason Fung.
    25. Nina Teicholz on The Joe Rogan Experience.
    26. Wheat Belly -- William Davis..
    27. The Four Quadrants of Conformism -- Paul Graham.
    28. Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength — Amit Varma.
    29. The Diabetes Code -- Jason Fung.
    30. Hikikomori.
    31. The Confidence Gap — Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.
    32. Everything is Illuminated -- Liev Schreiber, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.
    33. The White Balloon -- Jafar Panahi.
    34. Majid Majidi on Wikipedia and IMDb.
    35. Panchayat, Season 2.
    36. Schitt's Creek.
    37. This is Us.
    38. The Playbook- A Coach's Rules for Life.

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

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

    The illustration for this episode is by Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist. Check out his podcast, Twitter, Instagram and Substack.

    • 4 hr 44 min
    Chandrahas Choudhury's Country of Literature

    Chandrahas Choudhury's Country of Literature

    To immerse yourself in literature is to immerse yourself in the world. Chandrahas Choudhury joins Amit Varma in episode 288 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about reading, writing, friendship, Mumbai and the guests at his fantasy dinner table.

    Also check out:
    1. Chandrahas Choudhury on Instagram and Amazon.
    2. The Middle Stage -- Chandrahas Choudhury's blog.
    3. My Country Is Literature -- Chandrahas Choudhury.
    4. Days of My China Dragon -- Chandrahas Choudhury.
    5. Clouds -- Chandrahas Choudhury.
    6. Arzee The Dwarf -- Chandrahas Choudhury.
    7. Bamana Arzee -- Chandrahas Choudhury, translated by Sindhubala Choudhury. 
    8. The Life and Times of Abhinandan Sekhri -- Episode 254 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    9. Two Men Who Left Third Man Alone -- Amit Varma and Chandrahas Choudhury.
    10. The Curse of Knowledge.
    11. Eunice De Souza on Amazon.
    12. House of the Dead —  Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    13. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
    14. The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist -- Orhan Pamuk.
    15. The Ferment of Our Founders -- Episode 272 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Kapila).
    16. Jai Arjun Singh Lost It at the Movies -- Episode 230 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    17. Madame Bovary -- Gustave Flaubert.
    18. How Fiction Works -- James Wood.
    19. Marcel Proust and Karl Ove Knausgaard on Amazon.
    20. Six and a Third Acres -- Fakir Mohan Senapati.
    21. Is There an Indian Way of Thinking? -- AK Ramanujan.
    22. Sara Rai Inhales Literature -- Episode 255 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    23. Rukmini Sees India’s Multitudes -- Episode 261 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rukmini S).
    24. Cuckold -- Kiran Nagarkar.
    25. Robert Bly on Amazon.
    26. A Meditation on Form — Amit Varma.
    27. Amitava Kumar Finds the Breath of Life -- Episode 265 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    28. Georges Simenon on Amazon.
    29. Beautiful Thing — Sonia Faleiro.
    30. Two Girls Hanging From a Tree — Episode 209 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Sonia Faleiro).
    31. Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay on Amazon.
    32. The Business of Books -- Episode 150 of The Seen and the Unseen (w VK Karthika).
    33. The Bear Came Over the Mountain -- Alice Munro.
    34. Against Rang De Basanti -- Chandrahas Choudhury.
    35. The Loneliness of the Indian Woman — Episode 259 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shrayana Bhattacharya).
    36. A Godless Congregation -- Amit Varma.
    37. Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek.
    38. The City -- CP Cavafy.
    39. Junoon on Spotify.
    40. Verrier Elwin on Amazon.
    41. The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin: An Autobiography.
    42. Suite Francaise -- Irène Némirovsky.
    43. Taking Stock of Our Republic — Episode 157 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ram Guha).

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

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

    The illustration for this episode is by Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist. Check out his work on Twitter, Instagram and Substack.

    • 3 hr 50 min
    The Life and Times of Urvashi Butalia

    The Life and Times of Urvashi Butalia

    She helped generations of women in India find a voice. She expanded the worldview of countless people. She confronted the horrors of our past and the fissures of our present. Urvashi Butalia joins Amit Varma in episode 287 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about her life and learnings.

    Also check out:
    1.  Urvashi Butalia at Zubaan and Amazon.
    2. The Other Side of Silence -- Urvashi Butalia.
    3. Zubaan Books and Kali for Women.
    4. Turning the Page for Feminism -- Nilanjana Roy on Urvashi Butalia.
    5. Episodes on The Seen and the Unseen that touched on feminism with Paromita Vohra, Kavita Krishnan, Mrinal Pande, Kavitha Rao, Namita Bhandare, Shrayana Bhattacharya, Mukulika Banerjee, Manjima Bhattacharjya and Nilanjana Roy.
    6. The Life and Times of Nilanjana Roy -- Episode 284 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    7. Memories and Things — Episode 195 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aanchal Malhotra).
    8. Tales from the Kathasaritsagara -- Somadeva (translated by Arshia Sattar).
    9. The Auschwitz Memorial Twitter account.
    10. Amitava Kumar Finds the Breath of Life -- Episode 265 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    11. The Will to Change — Bell Hooks.
    12. Men Must Step Up Now -- Amit Varma.
    13. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow -- Washington Irving.
    14. Mahadevi Varma and Sheila Bhatia.
    15. The Life and Times of Abhinandan Sekhri -- Episode 254 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    16. The Ferment of Our Founders — Episode 272 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Kapila).
    17. Rukmini Sees India’s Multitudes — Episode 261 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rukmini S).
    18. The Verdict: Decoding India's Elections -- Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwala.
    19. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism — Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul).
    20. What Have We Done With Our Independence? — Episode 186 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pratap Bhanu Mehta).
    21. The Life and Times of Abhinandan Sekhri -- Episode 254 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Abhinandan Sekhri).
    22. Towards Equality: Report of the Committee on Status of Women in India (1974).
    23. The Kavita Krishnan Files -- Episode 228 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    24. Manjima Bhattacharjya: The Making of a Feminist -- Episode 280 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    25. Kamla Bhasin on Wikipedia.
    26. Division of Hearts -- Satti Khanna and Peter Chappell.
    27. Heer Ranjha.
    28. Kumar Gandharva sings Nirgun Bhajans.
    29. Reshma sings Bulle Shah.
    30. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on Spotify.
    31. Ek Onkar -- Harshdeep Kaur.
    32. Chaudhvin Ka Chand -- Guru Dutt.
    33. Pyaasa -- Guru Dutt.
    34. A Question of Silence -- Marleen Gorris.

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

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

    The illustration for this episode is by Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist. Check out his work on Twitter, Instagram and Substack.

    • 4 hr 5 min
    Pradeep Magazine Replays His Life

    Pradeep Magazine Replays His Life

    He wrote about cricket for decades -- and also turned his piercing gaze on society and himself. Pradeep Magazine joins Amit Varma in episode 286 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his journey, and how it changed him.

    Also check out:
    1. Pradeep Magazine on Twitter, Amazon and Hindustan Times.
    2. Not Just Cricket: A Reporter's Journey through Modern India -- Pradeep Magazine.
    3. Not Quite Cricket: The Xplosive Story of How Bookmakers Influence the Game Today -- Pradeep Magazine.
    4. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism — Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul).
    5. Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India — Akshaya Mukul.
    6. Some of Satyajit Ray's masterpieces: Pratidwandi, Seemabaddha, Agantuk and Ghare Bhaire.
    7. Memories and Things — Episode 195 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aanchal Malhotra).
    8. Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas — Natasha Dow Schüll.
    9. Adam Smith and John Locke.
    10. The Art of Cricket -- Donald Bradman.
    11. Ray Robinson and Neville Cardus.
    12. Rahul Bhattacharya, Siddhartha Vaidyanathan and Anand Vasu.
    13. The Wisden Book of Test Cricket -- Bill Frindall.
    14. Rashomon -- Akira Kurosawa.
    15. Sourav Ganguly and the Politburo -- Amit Varma.
    16. Opportunity, Choice and the IPL (2008) — Amit Varma.
    17. The IPL is Here and Here Are Six Reasons to Celebrate It (2019) — Amit Varma.
    18. The Sporting Spirit -- George Orwell.
    19. War Minus The Shooting -- Mike Marquesee.
    20. Annihilation of Caste -- BR Ambedkar.

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

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

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

    The illustration for this episode is by Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist. Check out his work on Twitter, Instagram and Substack.

    • 3 hr 18 min
    The Life and Times of Montek Singh Ahluwalia

    The Life and Times of Montek Singh Ahluwalia

    Our real heroes are often backstage. Montek Singh Ahluwalia joins Amit Varma in episode 285 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his life, his learnings and the liberalisation of 1991.

    Also check out:
    1. Backstage: The Story behind India’s High Growth Years -- Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
    2. Breaking Through: A Memoir -- Isher Judge Ahluwalia.
    3. The M Document -- Montek Singh Ahluwalia's legendary note from 1990.
    4. The Importance of the 1991 Reforms — Episode 237 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan and Ajay Shah).
    5. The Forgotten Greatness of PV Narasimha Rao -- Episode 283 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vinay Sitapati).
    6. Public Choice Theory -- Episode 121 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    7. Principles of Economics -- Alfred Marshall.
    8. Alexandre Dumas on Amazon.
    9. Gurbani and Heer Ranjha.
    10. The Life and Times of Abhinandan Sekhri -- Episode 254 of The Seen and the Unseen.
    11. India’s Problem is Poverty, Not Inequality — Amit Varma.
    12. On Inequality — Harry Frankfurt.
    13. The Cantillon Effect: Because of Inflation, We’re Financing the Financiers -- Jessica Schultz.
    14. Population Is Not a Problem, but Our Greatest Strength -- Amit Varma.
    15. State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century — Francis Fukuyama.
    16. The Origins of Political Order — Francis Fukuyama.
    17. Political Order and Political Decay — Francis Fukuyama.
    18. James Buchanan on Amazon.
    19. Jawaharlal Nehru's speech about our "tryst with destiny."
    20. Fixing Indian Education — Episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan).
    21. Education in India — Episode 77 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Amit Chandra).
    22. Fund Schooling, Not Schools (2007) — Amit Varma.
    23. Our Unlucky Children (2008) — Amit Varma.
    24. The Beautiful Tree — James Tooley.
    25. Episodes of The Seen and the Unseen with Ajay Shah: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
    26. In Service of the Republic — Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah.
    27. The Business of Winning Elections -- Episode 247 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shivam Shankar Singh).
    28. Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread.
    29. Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards — Amit Varma
    30. Minoo Masani, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Isaiah Berlin, John Hicks and Ian Little.
    31. Spontaneous Order.
    32. The Evolution of Everything -- Episode 96 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Matt Ridley).
    33. Jagdish Bhagwati and Padma Desai on Amazon.
    34. Elite Imitation in Public Policy -- Episode 180 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok).
    35. The Loneliness of the Indian Woman — Episode 259 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shrayana Bhattacharya).
    36.  The Life and Times of Mrinal Pande -- Episode 263 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Mrinal Pande).
    37. Beware of the Useful Idiots -- Amit Varma.
    38. The Lost Decade — Puja Mehra.
    39. India’s Lost Decade — Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra).
    40. Managing Climate Change: A Strategy for India -- Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Utkarsh Patel.
    41. Mahabharata.
    42. Ingmar Bergman, Vittorio de Sica, Federico Fellini and Roman Polanski.
    43. Amit Varma's tweet on velociraptors and turkeys.
    44. The James Bond films.

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

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

    The illustration for this episode is by Nishant Jain aka Sneaky Artist. Check out his work on Twitter, Instagram and Substack.

    • 3 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
187 Ratings

187 Ratings

virgsaha ,

Excellent but….

I have been listening to Amit for more than a year now. I have practically listened to all his podcasts. I enjoyed, almost all some more than others. I would like to point out one thing to him that’s bothering me a bit lately is he rarely ask author specifically about the book he/she has written. Their background, upbringing, processes etc are interesting but I want to get a gist of the book. May be learn something that author left out of the book. I miss these in his concert with the author. Otherwise keep doing what you are doing. Really enjoy your podcasts and look forward to listening it every Monday morning here on the other side of the world! Thank you!

Isteyaq ,

Brilliant podcast for a thinking person

Extremely rich conversation, long but listen at 1.5 X or 2 X and you will be able to finish it faster 😀 the podcast is done with a certain intellectual depth and is extremely conversational.

CVReddy402 ,

Excellent Podcast with Excellent Host and Guests

I love long podcasts and this is the perfect one

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