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CREATIVE IMPACT: Unionville seniors explore roots of world history with ‘Kathakar’ lens



CREATIVE IMPACT: Unionville seniors explore roots of world history with ‘Kathakar’ lens
Teens launch podcast for multifaceted look at keystone events across the spectrum of time on earth

UNIONVILLE — Three childhood friends have launched “Kathakar,” a podcast that focuses on historic milestones with an interdisciplinary approach including the use of quantitative methods and spatial analysis.

Podcast episodes are available across multiple platforms including via Spotify, Google, Apple and Anchor.

Kathakar is a Sanskrit linguistic term which translates in English to “one who tells a story.”

A trio of Unionville High School students, seniors Arnab Sircar, Aniruddh Mutnuru and Ansh Patel created the podcast.

The friends utilize their podcast, and invite expert guests and topical thought leaders, to dive into the world’s important turning points in history.

The friends credited two Unionville teachers who have inspired them in their podcast endeavor, including Lindsay Iezzi, who teaches AP World History, and Cody Stafford, who teaches AP U.S. History.

Their first podcast episode, titled “The July Crisis,” featured Professor John Moser, chairman of the Department of History and Political Science at Ashland University. He discussed the events on the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated and the series of developments that followed, bringing chaos to nearly all of Europe and soon, the world.

More than a dozen episodes have since aired with topics ranging from the United States Postal Service and westward expansion to life in colonial Zimbabwe.

Episode 13 focused on “Protests and Complexity” featuring special guest Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld, an assistant professor of Public Policy and Political Science in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California in Los Angeles.

The podcast’s description states: “Since the dawn of governing structures, protests have served as the method by which masses enact policy and action. How can the dynamics of protests and mass gathering be characterized? Recent research shows that Twitter posts, associated geo-location information, and other social media data can study size, mobilization, and stimulants of these public displays.”

The teen founders of the Kathakar podcast first met in middle school. Roughly six years later, they now have their own show.

Sircar said he has a keen interest in topics ranging from mathematics and technology to economic and societal matters. He looks for common and interesting patterns in diverse environments as he tries to understand the how and the why.

Sircar said he enjoys to look at maps, explore his heritage and the Bengali language, fly drones, and solve Rubik’s cubes.

Patel said he enjoys learning new things, traveling whenever he can, and learning information about his own family history and religion. Patel, who finds computers and cyber security interesting, actively works with people in these fields to push for new technology for the world.

Mutnuru said he enjoys studying a multitude of subjects and teaching concepts such as debating and mathematics. He has a keen interest in computer science, specifically artificial intelligence (AI).

In his spare time, Mutnuru said he loves to play sports with his friends, practice playing piano, listen to music, and be with his family.

The three friends created the idea for their podcast in November 2020.

“That’s when the pandemic was going on,” Mutnuru said. They wanted to do something with their extra time and launched the show in January 2021.

Since then, they’ve aired monthly shows, sometimes two episodes in one month.

They became friends in sixth grade and bonded as freshmen during AP World History.

“And our fondness for history grew from there,” said Patel.

“We try to focus on important turning points in history,” said Sircar. “How was the common man or common woman affected by these drastic shifts that were occurring in history?”

Sircar continued, “When we look at these events — these turning points — or revolutions — or big changes in history, we try to take unique aspects (into account when) analyzing them.”

Looking at large sets of data, from a quantitative method perceptive, can help one understand historic milestone events better, he added.

“I look at history as the people I’m meant to honor,” Mutnuru said. “I wouldn’t be here without the sacrifices that they made — and I’m not just talking about my ancestors,” adding he’s referring to all the millions of people who came before and shaped the world that exists today.

“With our discourse, and our information, and our drive to share knowledge, I think that we’re able then to honor their memories,” Mutnuru said, “and carry on making new history for future generations.”

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Kathakar Team Photo

From left, Unionville seniors Arnab Sircar, Ansh Patel and Aniruddh Mutnuru run a podcast titled Kathakar, which delves into the world’s monumental turning points throughout human history. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)