Imagine this. You are driving to work in an electric SUV. Halfway through, your electric vehicle (EV) is low on power. What do you do? As it happens, you are close to a battery-swapping station where a discharged battery can be exchanged for a fully-charged one. Problem solved.
In the near future, we could be close to such robust EV infrastructure in India. And it is exactly such scenarios that the new podcast series 'Imagined Tomorrow' explores. Created and hosted by the Bengaluru-based science writer and journalist Shreya Dasgupta, the long-form podcast explores hypothetical scenarios in the Indian context with the help of experts, to figure out what the journey might look like.
“I have been a big fan of science fiction and fantasy in general.... When it comes to non-fiction (topics in science), there are various TV shows and podcasts that address this theme. But the narrative is often told from a very Western perspective,” says Dasgupta on the phone. “Whenever our part of the world is showcased, India, South Asia or even South-East Asia, it’s usually done very fleetingly. I wanted to combine my love for science and audio storytelling to tell a story about possible futures for India, and do it with different kinds of experts and voices, and how they are thinking about that future.”
The first two episodes went live in June. In episode 1, Dasgupta looks at a scenario where medical treatments can be customised to an individual’s genetic makeup. Episode 2 talks about an India where the roads are brimming with electric vehicles—cars, scooters, et al. This episode, in particular, is timely given the current conversation around EVs in India. States like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan recently unveiled new and revised EV policies to boost use and popularity. Recent news reports suggest Tata’s Nexon EV, launched last year, registered its highest sales last month.
The episode also addresses key topics like rising petrol prices, vehicular emissions, ambient air pollution and its effect on the environment. Dasgupta balances views from industry experts such as Naveen Munjal, managing director of Hero Electric, India’s largest manufacturer of electric two-wheelers, with the personal experiences of people who drive EVs on a daily basis.
Talking to people whose lives might be directly affected while thinking about these futures is an important part of the podcast’s theme, says Dasgupta. Going forward, she is planning to explore topics like antibiotics resistance and the concept of underground cities.
Dasgupta says inspiration for the podcast also came from shows that are created and hosted by women: Gastropod (hosted by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley), Bodies (a documentary-style podcast by Allison Behringer), Flash Forward (by award-winning science journalist Rose Eveleth), and Science Vs (hosted by Wendy Zukerman). “I think women bring in very diverse ways of looking at the world. Their subjects and questions, their ways of probing those questions, and the lens they choose to see things from—I usually find them very interesting and refreshing.”
You can listen to Imagined Tomorrow on Google Podcasts, PocketCasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and imaginedtomorrow.com