The Seen and the Unseen

Our weekly podcast, hosted by Pragati editor, Amit Varma. Out every Monday.

India’s Greatest Civil Servant

In 1906, a 13-year-old boy burnt down his school in a village in Kerala and ran away from home to work in the gold mines of Kolar. Decades later, he put this country together. Narayani Basu joins Amit Varma in episode 167 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the extraordinary life of VP Menon.

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Nanak Was Here

The man known as Guru Nanak was one of the great travellers of his time, passing through lands that are today spread across nine countries. Amardeep Singh joins Amit Varma in episode 166 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about how he retraced Nanak's path -- and also about his efforts at documenting the Sikh heritage of Pakistan.

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Genetic Engineering

Humans are the only bots with the ability to reprogram themselves. Shambhavi Naik joins Amit Varma in episode 165 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the science, ethics, politics and policy implications of genetic engineering.

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The Ideas of Our Constitution

Contrary to popular belief, the Indian constitution was not a copy-paste job without a vision. It emerged from decades of intellectual ferment. Madhav Khosla joins Amit Varma in episode 164 of The Seen and the Unseen to describe the history of the key ideas that drove our founders and shaped our constitution.

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Who Broke Our Republic?

Seven decades after Independence, India is still wracked by poverty and strife. Who is responsible? Kapil Komireddi joins Amit Varma in episode 163 of The Seen and the Unseen to excoriate every political player of Independent India. No prisoners taken.

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Caste, Gender, Karnatik Music

So much of our culture is shaped by our social fault lines. TM Krishna joins Amit Varma in episode 162 of The Seen and the Unseen to peel the layers off the development of Karnatik music — and Indian society itself.

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The History of Desire in India

We may be a sexually repressed country today, but it wasn’t always like this. Madhavi Menon joins Amit Varma in episode 161 of The Seen and the Unseen to elaborate on the infinite variety of our desires all through history.

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Participatory Democracy

In India, we have government of the people and for the people, but not by the people. How can we fix this? Polymath thinker Ashwin Mahesh joins Amit Varma in episode 160 of The Seen and the Unseen to chat about participatory democracy, India Against Corruption, the Aam Aadmi Party and what makes a Good Indian.

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The Theatre of the Budget

Budgets matter more than they should — and the process of making them matters more than their contents. Ajay Shah and Vivek Kaul join Amit Varma in episode 159 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss both journey & destination, strategy & tactics.

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Radically Networked Societies

From the Arab Spring to Shaheen Bagh, radically networked societies are rising up to express themselves. What do they have in common? How will a hierarchical state deal with a networked society? Pranay Kotasthane shares his insights with Amit Varma in episode 158 of The Seen and the Unseen.

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Taking Stock of Our Republic

India has endured -- but as we celebrate another Republic Day, we must remember that we cannot take this for granted. Historian Ramachandra Guha joins Amit Varma in episode 157 of The Seen and the Unseen to examine some of the currents of history that brought us here, and are still in flux.

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Kerala and the Ivory Throne

Kerala has a madly interesting history. It was a hub of globalisation centuries ago, an exemplar of tolerance. Almost in contrast, it took casteism to an extreme. It also had a matrilineal system, a tradition of empowered women, and some badass queens. Historian Manu Pillai joins Amit Varma in episode 156 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss all this and more.

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Films, Feminism, Paromita

Immense changes have swept through our lives in the last three decades. Filmmaker and writer Paromita Vohra joins Amit Varma in episode 155 of The Seen and the Unseen, and turns her unique gaze both inwards and outwards.

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The Art and Science of Economic Policy

Economic policy affects each of us — and yet, India has gotten it wrong for decades. In their groundbreaking new book, Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah write not just how to do policy, but how to think about policy. They join Amit Varma in episode 154 of The Seen and the Unseen to share their learnings, first principles onwards.

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The Indian Economy in 2019

Alongside much social unrest, the Indian economy went to hell in 2019. Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 153 of The Seen and the Unseen to survey the damage, and to demystify the rubble.

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The Citizenship Battles

Why is India burning over the Citizenship Amendment Bill? Why does the NRC matter? What is happening in Assam? Srinath Raghavan joins Amit Varma in episode 152 of The Seen and the Unseen to give historical perspective on our current ferments.

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Maharashtra Politics Unscrambled

Politics in Maharashtra is deeply complicated. Its themes and fault lines have been formed over decades. Veteran journalist and author Sujata Anandan joins Amit Varma in episode 151 of The Seen and the Unseen to unravel some of the mysteries behind its fascinating dramas.

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The Business of Books

How has Indian publishing evolved in the last few decades? What does India read, and why? Publisher VK Karthika joins Amit Varma in episode 150 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about what she learnt in her years in Penguin, Harper Collins and (now) Westland.

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A Life in Indian Politics

Jayaprakash Narayan was trained as a physician, served in the IAS, and went on to start a political movement. JP joins Amit Varma in episode 149 of The Seen and the Unseen to share his insights on Indian politics, the nature of the state and what we need to do to change India for the better.

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The Bombzooka Question

In episode 148 of The Seen and the Unseen, host Amit Varma invokes a fictional super-weapon to build an argument against gun rights in India. Guests Shubho Roy and Sudhanshu Neema disagree with him, and each other, most vigorously.

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