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.

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.

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.

Jahangir the Curious

Jahangir is often considered a lightweight Mughal emperor, an ineffectual drunkard sandwiched between his father and his son, Akbar and Shah Jahan. But this is an unfair view. Parvati Sharma joins Amit Varma in episode 147 of The Seen and the Unseen to shed light on not just Jahangir as an emperor, but on his human side, endearing and infuriating in equal measure.

India’s Sedition Law

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code is an archaic law and needs to go. But what is the historical background of our sedition law? What are the political and social contexts in which it evolved and thrived? Chitranshul Sinha joins Amit Varma in episode 146 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss his book on the subject, The Great Repression.

Women in Indian History

The history of humanity is more than just the history of men. Historian Ira Mukhoty joins Amit Varma in episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about going beyond the male gaze to write history. She also discusses Daughters of the Sun, her account of the rich and complex world of Mughal women.

What Does China Want?

The geopolitics of the West is reasonably well-understood — but China remains a mystery to many. What drives China? How does it look at India? China expert Manoj Kewalramani joins Amit Varma in episode 143 of The Seen and the Unseen to provide historical context and strategic perspective.

Ponzi Schemes

We are surrounded by frauds, and are dying to believe them. Vivek Kaul joins Amit Varma in episode 142 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss ponzi schemes, both in India and outside, both by private actors and the government. Also discussed: chit funds and kitty parties, and why we are wired to be deceived.

Being Gay, Loving Books

Vivek Tejuja, known for his writing on books, has just released his memoir of growing up gay in India. He joins Amit Varma in episode 141 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss how he — and those around him — came to terms with his sexuality. In the second half of the episode, Vivek and Amit discuss writers they like, and read out their favourite poetry.

The Gita Press and Hindu Nationalism

The recent victories of political Hindutva were enabled by a century-long cultural movement spearheaded by a publishing house based in Gorakhpur. Akshaya Mukul, author of Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India, joins Amit Varma in episode 139 of The Seen and the Unseen. Themes discussed include the relationship between society and the state, Marwari history, cow, temple, gender, caste, Muslims, Communism, and the spontaneous combustion of virtuous Hindu women.

Twelve Dream Reforms

Times are bad — but pessimists can dream! Tired of only talking about problems, Shruti Rajagopalan, Rajeswari Sengupta and Vivek Kaul join Amit Varma in episode 138 of The Seen and the Unseen, to propose solutions! Three each. Many bad jokes and Bollywood songs are thrown in.

Indian Society: The Last 30 Years

The India of 2019 is a different country from the India of 1989. Social commentator Santosh Desai joins Amit Varma in episode 137 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the many ways in which we have been transformed in this time — not always for the better.

Data Journalism and Indian Politics

Data journalism in India is fast coming of age, shedding light on our society and politics. Roshan Kishore joins Amit Varma in episode 136 of The Seen and the Unseen to speak about his profession (data journalism), his passion (political economy) and his dark, mysterious past as a student leader in JNU.

Two Economic Crises (2008 & 2019)

Mohit Satyanand saw the 2008 crisis coming and put his money where his mouth was. Now he says we’re in the middle of another crisis. He joins Amit Varma in episode 135 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain what exactly went wrong in 2008, and what’s gone wrong now.

Kashmir and Article 370

Kashmir is in lockdown, and Article 370 is history. What does this mean for Kashmir — and for India? Historian Srinath Raghavan joins Amit Varma in episode 134 of The Seen and the Unseen to discuss the historical, geopolitical, ideological and moral questions at the heart of the Kashmir problem.

Fighting Fake News

We live in a world besieged by falsehood — but there is a growing resistance movement. Pratik Sinha of Alt News joins Amit Varma in episode 133 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about disinformation, misinformation and why the truth will prevail.

Women at Work

There is a crisis in India today. There are not enough women taking up paying jobs — and their unpaid labour at home continues to be taken for granted. Journalist Namita Bhandare joins Amit Varma in episode 132 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about the state of women in India today.

Political Ideology in India

The usual spectrum of left and right does not apply to Indian politics. But does that mean that our politics is based on identity and patronage, and not ideology? Not quite, says political scientist Rahul Verma, as he joins Amit Varma in episode 131 of The Seen and the Unseen to explain the two ideological cleavages that divide India.