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The Seen and the Unseen - hosted by Amit Varma

Author: Amit Varma

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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.
193 Episodes
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In normal times, cities are an engine of prosperity. In these strange times, they are also an engine of pandemic. Vaidehi Tandel joins Amit Varma in episode 191 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how important cities are to civilisation, and how Covid-19 will affect the way we live. Also check out: 1. COVID-19 a Grim Reminder for Govts -- Vaidehi Tandel. 2. Don’t Blame Dense Cities. They Have Been Resilient -- Reuben Abraham and Vaidehi Tandel. 3. Why India Has the Fastest-Growing Cities -- Kadambari Shah, Vaidehi Tandel and Harshita Agarwal. 4. Cities and Pandemics Have a Long History -- Edward L Glaeser 5. A World of Cities: The Causes and Consequences of Urbanisation in Poorer Countries -- Edward L Glaeser. 6.  Cities After Coronavirus: How Covid-19 Could Radically Alter Urban Life -- Jack Shenker.   7.  Spatial Economics: The Declining Cost of Distance -- Karen Harris, Andrew Schwedel and Austin Kimson.   8. Triumph of the City -- Edward L Glaeser. 9. Order Without Design – How Markets Shape Cities -- Alain Bertaud. 10. The Importance of Cities -- Episode 108 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Reuben Abraham & Pritika Hingorani.) 11. The Seen and the Unseen episodes with Alex Tabarrok on FSI and Rent Control. 12. Urban Governance in India -- Episode 31 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 13. Taking Stock of Covid-19 -- Episode 169 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 14. The Nuances of Lockdown -- Episode 176 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Anup Malani). 15. India’s Economy in the Time of Covid-19 -- Episode 177 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul). 16. Fixing Indian Education -- Episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan). 17. What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been -- Episode 188 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Arvind Subramanian). 18. Rajesh Jain and Dhan Vapasi -- Episode 94 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajesh Jain). 19. Publish and Perish -- Agnes Callard. 20. Young Rural Women in India Chase Big-City Dreams -- Ellen Barry. 21. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma.
Ep 190: Queeristan

Ep 190: Queeristan

2020-09-1302:49:11

Whatever you say of India, an old cliche goes, the opposite is also true. India has always been homophobic -- but it also contains Queeristan. Parmesh Shahani joins Amit Varma in episode 190 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about his long ongoing battle for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate India -- and much beyond. Also check out:  1. Queeristan -- Parmesh Shahani. 2. Gay Bombay -- Parmesh Shahani. 3. Godrej India Culture Lab. 4. Being Gay, Loving Books -- Episode 141 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Tejuja). 5. Being Gay in India -- Episode 84 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Navin Noronha). 6. Habiba -- Bappi Lahiri. 7. Blank Noise. 8. India’s Problem is Poverty, Not Inequality -- Amit Varma. 9. On Inequality -- Harry Frankfurt. 10. On Bullshit -- Harry Frankfurt. 11. An Empty Shell of a Gangster Film -- Amit Varma's review of Raees.12. Films, Feminism, Paromita -- Episode 155 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Paromita Vohra). 13. Women at Work -- Episode 132 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Namita Bhandare). 14. A Life in Indian Politics -- Episode 149 of The Seen and the Unseen (w JP Narayan). 15. Project Bolo with Parmesh Shahani.
Ep 189: The Acting Life

Ep 189: The Acting Life

2020-09-0601:56:53

These are exciting times for Indian cinema, as multiple worlds and sensibilities collide in the streets and studios of Mumbai. Actors Rasika Dugal and Mukul Chadda join Amit Varma in episode 189 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe their journeys in this brave new world. Rasika's films: 1. Kshay (Amazon Prime). 2. Qissa (Mubi). 3. Manto (Netflix). 4. Hamid (Netflix). 5. Lootcase (Hotstar). 6. Tu Hai Mera Sunday (Netflix).   Rasika's shows:1. Delhi Crime (Netflix). 2. Mirzapur (Amazon Prime). 3. Made in Heaven (Amazon Prime). 4. Out of Love (Hotstar). 5. Humorously Yours (TVF). 6. A Suitable Boy (BBC). Rasika's short films: 1. Banana Bread (with Mukul, on YouTube). 2. Chutney (YouTube). 3. The School Bag (YouTube). Selected work by Mukul: 1. The Office (Hotstar). 2.  Banana Bread (with Rasika, on YouTube).   3. Ek Bahut Choti Si Love Story (YouTube). 4. Pressure Cooker (YouTube). 5. Butnama (YouTube). Also check out: 1. The Art of Translation -- Episode 168 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Arunava Sinha). 2. A Meditation on Form -- Amit Varma. 3. Range Rover -- The archives of Amit Varma's poker column for the Economic Times.
The Indian economy has been on a wild ride, traumatic in parts, for the last 73 years. And Arvind Subramanian was on a wild ride of his own as Chief Economic Advisor in the Indian government between 2014 and 2018. Arvind joins Amit Varma in episode 188 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss both these journeys. Also check out: 1. Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi-Jaitley Economy -- Arvind Subramanian. 2. India's Turn: Understanding the Economic Transformation -- Arvind Subramanian. 3. Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China's Economic Dominance -- Arvind Subramanian. 4. Remembering Arun Jaitley -- Arvind Subramanian. 5. From "Hindu Growth" to Productivity Surge: The Mystery of the Indian Growth Transition -- Arvind Subramanian & Dani Rodrik (2004). 6. India's Great Slowdown: What's Happened? What's the Way Out? -- Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman (Dec 2019). 7. Arvind Subramanian interviewed by Karthik Muralidharan -- I4I Conversations (2015). 8. 'Not Just Any Ordinary Slowdown': Arvind Subramanian interviewed by Prannoy Roy (2019). 9. Walk the Talk -- Arvind Subramanian interviewed by Shekhar Gupta (2016). 10. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families -- Philip Gourevitch. 11. Fixing Indian Education -- Episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan). 12. What Have We Done With Our Independence? -- Episode 186 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pratap Bhanu Mehta). 13. In Service of the Republic -- Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah. 14. The Art and Science of Economic Policy -- Episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah). 15. The Lost Decade -- Puja Mehra. 16. India's Lost Decade -- Episode 116 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Puja Mehra). 17. Episode of The Seen and the Unseen on GST with Devangshu Datta, Vivek Kaul and Shruti Rajagopalan. 18. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State -- Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 19. ‘Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards’ -- Amit Varma. 20. Most of Amit Varma’s writing on DeMon, collected in one Twitter thread. 21. Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy -- Mihir Sharma. 22. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma. 23. The State of Our Farmers -- Episode 86 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gunvant Patil).  24. India's Agriculture Crisis -- Episode 140 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Barun Mitra and Kumar Anand). 25. We Must Save Our Farmers — Amit Varma. 26. The Indian State is the Greatest Enemy of the Indian Farmer — Amit Varma. 27. Demystifying GDP -- Episode 130 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rajeswari Sengupta). And do check out Amit's online writing course, The Art of Clear Writing. Registration for the September batches is now open.
Dadabhai Naoroji and the Fight for India Description: In the 19th century, when the Idea of India was so nebulous, what did it mean to be a freedom fighter? Dinyar Patel joins Amit Varma in episode 187 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe Dadabhai Naoroji's battle to transform India from within the British empire. Also check out: 1. Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism -- Dinyar Patel. 2. Dadabhai Naoroji's books on Amazon. 3. Dadabhai Naoroji -- RP Masani. 4. Three Statesmen: Gokhale, Gandhi and Nehru -- BR Nanda. 5. Understanding Gandhi. Part 1: Mohandas -- Episode 104 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ramachandra Guha). 6. Understanding Gandhi. Part 2: Mahatma -- Episode 105 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ramachandra Guha). 7. The Art of Narrative Nonfiction (+ JBS Haldane) -- Episode 183 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Samanth Subramanian). And do check out Amit's writing course, The Art of Clear Writing.
As India completes 73 years, it's worth taking stock of our journey so far. Pratap Bhanu Mehta joins Amit Varma in episode 186 of The Seen and the Unseen, an Independence Day Special that takes a discursive look at the political and social currents that made us what we are. Also check out: 1. Pratap Bhanu Mehta's writing in the Indian Express. 2. The Burden of Democracy -- Pratap Bhanu Mehta. 3. On Politics -- Alan Ryan. 4. The Making of Modern Liberalism -- Alan Ryan. 5. Human Dignity -- George Kateb. 6. Patriotism and Other Mistakes -- George Kateb. 7. Conversation and Society -- Episode 182 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Russ Roberts). 8. Fixing Indian Education -- Episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Karthik Muralidharan). 9. The Three Languages of Politics -- Arnold Kling. 10. The Dark Side of Democracy -- Michael Mann. 11. The Emergency -- Episode 103 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Gyan Prakash). 12. The Ideas of our Constitution -- Episode 164 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Madhav Khosla). 13. The Facts Do Not Matter -- Amit Varma. 14. A Meditation on Form -- Amit Varma. 15. An Indian Political Life: Charan Singh and Congress Politics, 1937 to 1961 -- Paul R Brass. 16. Taking Stock of Our Republic -- Episode 157 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ram Guha). 17. Who Broke Our Republic? -- Episode 163 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Kapil Komireddi) 18. Participatory Democracy -- Episode 160 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ashwin Mahesh.) 19. A Life in Indian Politics -- Episode 149 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Jayaprakash Narayan). 20. Kashmir and Article 370 -- Episode 134 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan). 21. The Citizenship Battles -- Episode 152 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan). 22. Indian Society: The Last 30 Years -- Episode 137 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Santosh Desai). 23. The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism -- Episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Akshaya Mukul). 24. Political Ideology in India -- Episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rahul Verma). 25. Religion and Ideology in Indian Society -- Episode 124 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Suyash Rai). 26. The Intellectual Foundations of Hindutva -- Episode 115 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Aakar Patel). 27. Crime in Indian Politics -- Episode 114 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Milan Vaishnav). Do also check out Amit's writing course, The Art of Clear Writing, and subscribe to The India Uncut Newsletter.
It is a humanitarian and moral failure that 73 years after Independence, our education system remains broken. We have failed our children through all this time. Karthik Muralidharan joins Amit Varma in episode 185 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights from years of research on the ground. We can fix this. Is the NEP part of the solution?   Also check out: 1. Karthik Muralidharan's bio at UCSD. 2. Walking the Talk -- Inga Kiderra's profile of Karthik Muralidharan. 3. Reforming the Indian School Education System -- Karthik Muralidharan's chapter from What the Economy Needs Now. 4. The State and the Market in Education Provision -- Karthik Muralidharan. 5. Karthik Muralidharan interview by Pranav Kothari for EI Dialogues. 6. Charting a Course for the Indian Economy -- Karthik Muralidharan in conversation with Arvind Subramanian. 7. Karthik Muralidharan's archived research and articles. 8. Education in India -- Episode 77 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Amit Chandra). 9. The Profit Motive in Education -- Episode 9 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Parth Shah). 10. The Right to Education Act -- Episode 19 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul). 11. Our Unlucky Children (2008) -- Amit Varma. 12. Fund Schooling, Not Schools (2007) -- Amit Varma. 13. A Prize for Evidence-Based Policy -- Karthik Muralidharan. 14. Why Abhijit Banerjee Had to Go Abroad to Achieve Glory -- Amit Varma. 15. Poverty and Famines -- Amartya Sen. 16. India’s Problem is Poverty, Not Inequality -- Amit Varma. 17. On Inequality -- Harry Frankfurt. 18. A Theory of Justice -- John Rawls. 19. Anarchy, State and Utopia -- Robert Nozick. 20. Arguments for Liberty -- Aaron Ross Powell and Grant Babcock. 21. Saving Capitalism From the Capitalists -- Raghuram Rajan. 22. Out-Arnabing Arnab -- Episode 8 of Econ Central. 23. Parkinson's Law -- Cyril Northkote Parkinson. 24. Myths of Official Measurement -- Abhijeet Singh. 25. Centrally Sponsored Government Schemes -- Episode 17 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane). 26. The Aggregate Effect of School Choice -- Karthik Muralidharan and Venkatesh Sundararaman. 27. The Private Schooling Phenomenon in India: A Review -- Geeta G Kingdon. 28. Extending access to low-cost private schools through vouchers: an alternative interpretation -- James Tooley. Also, do check out Amit's writing course, The Art of Clear Writing.
Ep 184: Finding Dara Shukoh

Ep 184: Finding Dara Shukoh

2020-08-0201:41:243

The rivalry between Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb is often considered a foundational one for Islam in India. Good Muslim vs Bad Muslim. But it's not quite that simple. Historian Supriya Gandhi joins Amit Varma in episode 184 of The Seen and the Unseen to point out that the truth is complex, and there are no easy binaries.   Also check out: 1. The Emperor Who Never Was: Dara Shukoh in Mughal India -- Supriya Gandhi. 2. City of Djinns -- William Dalrymple. 3. Jill Lepore and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi on Amazon. 4. Dara Shukoh -- Kalika Ranjan Qanungo (full text). 5. Dārā S̲h̲ikūh: Life and Works -- Bikrama Jit Hasrat (full text). 6. Mysteries of Selflessness: Rumuz-i Bekhudi -- Muhammad Iqbal. 7. The Month We Lost Dara -- Ashok Malik. 8. Women in Indian History -- Episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ira Mukhoty). 9. Jahangir the Curious -- Episode 147 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Parvati Sharma). 10. The Resonance of Akbar -- Episode 173 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manimugdha Sharma).  11. Our Colorful Past -- Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai). 12. Secularism and Hindutva Histories -- Supriya Gandhi. 13. The Truth About Us -- Sanjoy Chakravorty. 14. Supriya Gandhi interviewed by Ira Mukhoty. 15. Supriya Gandhi interviewed by Rana Safvi.
In a complex world where the truth is up for grabs, we need narrative nonfiction. Samanth Subramanian joins Amit Varma in episode 183 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the art and craft of this form of literature. Also discussed: A Dominant Character, Samanth's book on JBS Haldane, and the intersection of science and politics. Also check out: 1. A Dominant Character -- Samanth Subramanian. 2. Samanth Subramanian's website, Amazon page and his work at the Guardian and the New Yorker.  3. The Intersection -- the podcast hosted by Padmaparna Ghosh and Samanth Subramanian. 4. Psmith, Journalist -- PG Wodehouse. 5. Question Time: My Life as a Quiz Obsessive -- Samanth Subramanian. 6. Quizzing is Not Just a Trivial Pursuit -- Amit Varma. 7. Neville Cardus on Amazon. 8. Darwin's Dangerous Idea -- Daniel Dennett. 9. The Perfect Murder -- HRF Keating. 10. Conversation and Society -- Episode 182 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Russ Roberts). 11. Cricket as a novelty, an obsession, and as literature -- Samanth Subramanian on Siddhartha Vaidyanathan's podcast, 81 all out. 12. On Writing Well -- Sarah Farooqui's interview with Samanth Subramanian. 13. The Complete New Yorker. 14. AJ Liebling, Calvin Trillin and Joan Didion on Amazon. 15. The Confidence Man -- Samanth Subramanian (on Lalit Modi). 15. The New New Journalism -- Robert Boynton. 16. The Secret of Excess -- Bill Buford (on Mario Batali). 17. The Power Broker -- Robert A Caro. 18. Robert A Caro on Amazon. 19. What Ails Indian Science -- JBS Haldane. 20. The Evolution of Everything -- Episode 96 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Matt Ridley). 21. The Man of System -- Adam Smith (excerpted from The Theory of Moral Sentiments). 22. The Papers of JBS Haldane -- Samanth Subramanian. 23. A talk by Samanth Subramanian on JBS Haldane at Archives@NCBS.    And hey, do check out Amit Varma's writing course, The Art of Clear Writing.
We live in an age of competing monologues. We talk, but we do not listen. Russ Roberts joins Amit Varma for a wide-ranging conversation in episode 182 of The Seen and the Unseen.   Also check out: 1. Econ Talk -- Russ Roberts's podcast. 2. Russ Roberts's website, archived writing and books. 3. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life -- Russ Roberts. 4. The Theory of Moral Sentiments -- Adam Smith. 5. The Three Languages of Politics -- Arnold Kling. 6. The Three Blind Sports of Politics -- Russ Roberts. 7. Tribe -- Sebastian Junger. 8. The Economics of the Chilling Effect -- Episode 5 of Econ Central. 9. You’re From the Mutton Lobby — Transcript of episode 49 of The Seen and the Unseen (solo episode on political discourse). 10. A Letter on Justice and Open Debate -- Various authors (in Harper's). 11. My Twelve Rules for Life -- Russ Roberts. 12. Shallow -- A Star is Born. 13. Shallow -- Lady Gaga and Bradely Cooper at the Oscars. 14. Shallow -- Cover by Jessica Reinl and Christopher Halligan of the Mount Sion Choir. 15. Everything Flows -- Vasily Grossman. 16. The Story of My Life -- Russ Roberts. 17. The Evolution of Everything -- Episode 96 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Matt Ridley). 18. Indian Society: The Last 30 Years -- Episode 137 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Santosh Desai). Also check out these Econ Talk episodes that Russ mentioned with Dan Klein, Arnold Kling and Ryan Holiday. New batches for Amit's online course, The Art of Clear Writing, begin soon.
Why is there this tension between China and India? To understand that, we must uncover many layers of the past. Foreign Policy scholars Hamsini Hariharan and Shibani Mehta join Amit Varma in episode 181 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their insights on the rich history of the interactions between these two great civilizations.  Also check out: 1. What Does China Want? -- Episode 143 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani). 2. Chinese Foreign Policy -- Episode 81 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manoj Kewalramani). 3. Foreign Policy is a Big Deal -- Episode 170 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane & Manoj Kewalramani). 4. Understanding Foreign Policy -- Episode 63 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Nitin Pai). 5. The Geopolitics of the Bangladesh War -- Episode 113 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan). 6. The India-Pakistan Conflict -- Episode 111 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Srinath Raghavan). 7. War and Peace in Modern India -- Srinath Raghavan. 8. China's Influence in South Asia -- Episode 22 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane). 9. India's Maldives Dilemma -- Episode 57 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pranay Kotasthane). 10. India's China War -- Neville Maxwell. 11. China's Indian War -- Bertil Lintner. 12. Strong Borders, Secure Nation -- M Taylor Fravel. 13. From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy -- Matthew Mosca. 14. Watershed 1967 -- Prabal Dasgupta. 15. Making it Count -- Arunabh Ghosh. 16. The Stories Behind the Numbers -- Episode 52 of States of Anarchy. 17. A Tale of Two Kingdoms -- Episode 32 of States of Anarchy. 18. China Through Indian Eyes -- Episode 361 of All Things Policy. 19. China's Ambitions in the Subcontinent -- Episode 359 of All Things Policy. 20. Should We Be Aatma Nirbhar? -- Episode 1 of Econ Central. 21. Ban on Chinese apps: Sending a strong message to ourselves -- Hamsini Hariharan. 22. Ladakh's position in the Sino-India border issue -- Hamsini Hariharan. 23. What India Can Learn From China -- Hamsini Hariharan. 24. Wilson Center Digital Archive (and the Mao-Nehru conversation). 25. Eye on China -- Manoj Kewalramani's newsletter.
Indian decision makers often blindly copy public policy from abroad, without considering whether it would work in local conditions. Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok join Amit Varma in episode 180 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the damage caused by such 'isomorphic mimicry,' and why it happens in the first place. Also check out: 1. Premature Imitation and India’s Flailing State -- Shruti Rajagopalan & Alexander Tabarrok. 2. Modern Principles of Macroeconomics -- Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabarrok. 3. Modern Principles of Microeconomics --  Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabarrok. 4. DeMon, Morality and the Predatory Indian State -- Episode 85 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 5. The Delhi Smog -- Episode 44 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vivek Kaul). 6. Is India a Flailing State? -- Lant Pritchett. 7. We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State -- Amit Varma. 8. Political Ideology in India -- Episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rahul Verma). 9. Ideology and Identity -- Pradeep Chhibber & Rahul Verma. 10. Understanding Gandhi. Part One: Mohandas -- Episode 104 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ram Guha). 11. Understanding Gandhi. Part Two: Mahatma --  Episode 105 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ram Guha). 12. Akhil Katyal's poem on caste. 13. Caste in Modern India -- Episode 52 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 14. Women at Work -- Episode 132 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Namita Bhandare). 15. Metrics of Empowerment -- Episode 88 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Devika Kher, Nidhi Gupta & Hamsini Hariharan). 16. Here’s What’s Wrong With the Maternity Benefits Act -- Suman Joshi. 17. FSI in India -- Episode 11 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Alex Tabarrok). 18. Twelve Dream Reforms -- Episode 138 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan, Rajeswari Sengupta & Vivek Kaul). 19. Slums in India -- Episode 21 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Pavan Srinath).  20. Order Without Design -- Alain Bertaud. 21. The Power Broker — Robert Caro. 22. The Death and Life of Great American Cities — Jane Jacobs. 23. The Right to Property -- Episode 26 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 24. Swachh Bharat -- Episode 82 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Shruti Rajagopalan). 25. Modi's Lost Opportunity -- Episode 119 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Salman Soz). 26. Education in India -- Episode 77 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Amit Chandra). 27. The Art and Science of Economic Policy -- Episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah). 28. In Service of the Republic -- Vijay Kelkar & Ajay Shah. 29. The Importance of Cities -- Episode 108 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Reuben Abraham & Pritika Hingorani).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Ep 174: Tawaif

Ep 174: Tawaif

2020-05-2402:08:185

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.
So much of our history has been weaponized by politics -- especially the Mughal period. Manimugdha Sharma joins Amit Varma in episode 173 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on the tug of war around Emperor Akbar -- and why that history remains relevant even today.   Also check out: 1. Allahu Akbar: Understanding the Great Mughal in Today's India -- Manimugdha Sharma. 2. Parthian Shot -- Manimugdha Sharma's column archives. 3. Manimugdha Sharma's reporting in Times of India. 4. Who Broke Our Republic? -- Episode 163 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Kapil Komireddi). 5. The Ideas of Our Constitution -- Episode 164 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Madhav Khosla), 6. The Many Cities of Delhi -- Episode 172 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Rana Safvi). 7. Women in Indian History -- Episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ira Mukhoty). 8. Jahangir the Curious -- Episode 147 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Parvati Sharma). 9. Our Colorful Past -- Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai). 10. The BJP's Magic Formula -- Episode 45 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Prashant Jha). 11. Essential Kabir -- Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. 12. White Mughals -- William Dalrymple. 13. Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jehan -- Ruby Lal. 14. The Bhagvad Gita in Urdu, recited by Ahmed Rashid Shervani at Manthan Samvaad. 15. The Early History of India -- Vincent Smith. 16. The Mughal Empire -- JF Richards. 17. The Agrarian System of Mughal India -- Irfan Habib. 18. Akbar and His India -- Irfan Habib. 19. The Western Way of War -- Victor Davis Hanson. 20. The Anglo-Maratha Campaigns and the Contest for India -- Randolph GS Cooper. 21. Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India -- Iqtidar Alam Khan. 22. The Millennial Sovereign -- A Azfar Moin. 23. The German Way of War -- Robert Citino 24. When Titans Clashed -- David M Glantz & Jonathan M House.
There is much more to Delhi than Old Delhi and New Delhi. The stones bear witness to a rich history, with much drama and tumult. Rana Safvi joins Amit Varma in episode 172 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how the forgotten past of Delhi continues to shape its present.   Also check out:1. Where Stones Speak -- Rana Safvi 2. The Forgotten Cities of Delhi -- Rana Safvi 3. Shahjahanabad: The Living City of Old Delhi -- Rana Safvi 4. City of My Heart -- Rana Safvi 5. The History of Desire in India -- Episode 161 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Madhavi Menon) 6. Our Colorful Past -- Episode 127 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai) 7. The Deccan Before Shivaji -- Episode 98 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai) 8. Kerala and the Ivory Throne -- Episode 156 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Manu Pillai) 9. Women in Indian History -- Episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Ira Mukhoty) 10. Jahangir the Curious -- Episode 147 of The Seen and the Unseen (w Parvati Sharma) 11. Rebel Sultans -- Manu Pillai 12. Daughters of the Sun -- Ira Mukhoty 13. India in the Persianate Age -- Richard Eaton
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Comments (175)

Sanjay Vijayaraghavan

This man is the formrr CEA of India. Why does he not complete his sentences many times?

Sep 22nd
Reply

Nihal Mohan

Dear Amit, Please do an episode on the Agri reform. The earlier episodes on agriculture crisis were really good. Thank you Nihal

Sep 21st
Reply

Nihal Mohan

14 minutes into the podcast, still learning about resume of the speaker. "Anyway!"

Sep 5th
Reply

mahesh mathe

Hi Amit. Thank you for this podcast. You've increased my interest in politics, policy and behavioral science with it. The episodes are too long so I usually watch them in my free time. I really enjoy your delivery style. I have learnt a lot using your podcast and it's a great opportunity to fight my misconceptions about the surrounding world. I have a question regarding this episode. I wanted to know the year in which Dada bhai started his school for women. Savitribai Phule founded it in 1848. And that's what I have known so far. I'm trying to establish whether she was the first one to do so, as we have been told. I did try to search online and I could not find a source for this information. Hoping to hear from you, Regards, Mahesh

Aug 29th
Reply

SN

the above two comments is exactly what they stand against for, calling anti nationals the moment you question what you should question.

Aug 1st
Reply

Harsha

lol this podcast is 💩. you called a biased reporter from ndtv which is nothing but congress propaganda and expect us to believe your BS.

Jul 27th
Reply

K Muzaffar

love this episode

Jul 26th
Reply

Ginza George

This was thoroughly enjoyable. Both Shibani and Hamsini put forth striking points in the most lucid manner.

Jul 20th
Reply

Nafis Alam

There are many useful points in the discussion. I can only wish the policy makers listen to this discussion.

Jul 17th
Reply

Ginza George

Brilliant! Really liked Prashant's lucid explanation and your engagement with him bringing out multiple layers. Knowledge shd flow effortlessly in all Indian households. More knowledge makes us better citizens.

Jul 6th
Reply

Pranjal Dixit

Although I love this podcast, 20 mins in the beginning for random talks and promotions is annoying. Better editing is necessary. Not everything which gets recorded needs to make it to the final cut.

Jun 22nd
Reply

Ved Prakash Middha

Nidhi is trying to put down competing channels to cover up biased reporting of NDTV. It is showing her frustration at seeing a submerging kingdom, which prospered by being a mouthpiece of Congress and leftist forces. It is painful to hear Amit, laughing with contempt full glee, at mention of Republic and Times Now. It is clearly an unbalanced reporting. Your anti-Modi tilt is showing again. I dare you to bring in a good right-winger to your show for discussion on these topics. I am disappointed. You are losing an admirer of your programme.

Jun 22nd
Reply

Mahendra Singh

Insightful

Jun 21st
Reply

Jagdeep Prabhudesai

what perspective, what knowledge and what cogency! Easily the best discussion I've heard on Genetic Engineering! Kudos to the host too for sparring optimally to bring out the essence of the topic in a single podcast

Jun 21st
Reply

Arun Kumar

bhai mummy ko sunana hai mummy ko english nahi aati.

Jun 12th
Reply

Saravana Kumar

thoroughly engaging and insightful.

May 25th
Reply

ajay garg

fascinating

May 18th
Reply

K Muzaffar

awesome

May 13th
Reply (1)

Vivek_m007

one of the best podcast episode, thank you for making such an awesome content :)

Apr 25th
Reply

Ashutosh Mankar

if the shoe fits, wear it! actually, the story is of lost opportunity and a common sense approach. in business when you plan for a major initiative, you do something called a SWOT analysis - strength, weakness, opportunity, threat. an initiative like a lock down needed that. that was not done and that is shame. the analysis is non partisan and objective. take it for what it is.

Apr 21st
Reply (1)
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