The Seen and the Unseen

If you are a student of the Indian economy, and don’t mind irreverence (there really ought to be a positive correlation between these two things), you might want to take a look at The Seen and the Unseen.

Amit Varma used to write one of India’s most popular blogs in the early days of the Indian blogosphere, India Uncut. He was, if memory serves me right, a writer with Cricinfo back then as well. He also used to write a column about poker that (at least to me) was quite difficult to grasp. And there is a lot else to know about him, including he being a two time winner of the Bastiat Prize.

But the best resource that he has put up for us to use is his blog, The Seen and the Unseen. The title is a doffing of the hat to Hayek, who admonished us all (and repeatedly) to worry about unintended consequences of policies with the most noble of intentions. In a sense, the title is also an acknowledgment of the fact that this is a problem that has plagues India ever since independence.

Amit Varma revels in poking fun at everything and everybody, as well he should. Some, but not all, of his episodes begin with a dream that he had, in which increasingly surreal things happen to him, in relation to things he is going to talk about in that particular episode – sometimes the dream is the best part of the episode.

The very first episode in the series is about a specific problem plaguing Indian agriculture, which is also one of my favorite episodes from the series. All the interviews with Shruthi Rajagopalan (whose columns in Livemint are always excellent reading) are also well worth your time, and I particularly enjoyed the episode with Vishwanath S, in which India’s water crisis is discussed.

But all in all, a series of episodes well worth listening to.

Links for 5th September, 2018

  1. On shorting the shorters.
  2. The 2008 economic crash in (more urgent) retrospect.
  3. A sceptical take on state promoted digital currencies.
  4. Thinking about housing.
  5. On un-northing Africa’s Korea.