Get Global

Get Global

Our Global Internship at the Reserve Bank of India

In this blog, our Global Experience Opportunity interns will be writing a series of weekly blogs from their experience of working with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s central banking institution that controls the supply of the Indian Rupee. This blog will be based upon their experience of local culture, sights and their work on the internship. Our students will also be updating you on what they have been getting involved in and enjoying each week!

Week 1

The flight from London to Mumbai was easier for some than it was for others. For some of us the 4500-mile trip was stress free and straightforward but for others delays exceeded 10 hours. After arriving safely in Mumbai the intensity of the city hit us for six. Simply ordering an Uber from the airport to the hostel seemed like a daunting task and with a humidity rate above 90% it was fair to say the first day was not only tiring but sweaty. After checking out of our hostel we embarked on the three-and-a-half-hour trip from Mumbai to Pune via intercity link Uber. The trip only cost us 550 Rupees each which roughly converts into the same price as two pints in Blanc on a Tuesday.

The Reserve Bank of India based us at its College of Agricultural Banking and the complex was immense; 24-hour security guarded a 10” high wall, covering approximately 7 acres of land. Immediately we were welcomed by the kind-hearted staff who insisted on carrying our luggage whilst showing us to our rooms. The lay out was simple; there were two twin beds with an en-suite and a balcony. However, something that all rooms had which at first we didn’t anticipate the importance of; was a reliable aircon.

Once we all settled ourselves in it was time for food and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The curries were delicious, containing an array of spices and flavours – something incomparable to an Indian back home. The meals felt homemade whilst at the same time up to restaurant quality. Since most people here are Hindus and follow a vegetarian diet, the menu at the canteen reflected this. The menus changed on a daily basis so we never felt dissatisfied or bored of the same food. It is safe to say we are being well fed, if not a little too well (some of us are already starting to develop a little rice belly).

On the Monday we had had a chance to meet our mentors for our project so that we could discuss ideas in relation to the specific research question. We were also given our own library cards in case we have to borrow anything from their wide range of books, journals and other resources. The RBI staff were also kind enough to arrange Indian sim cards for the group, so we can access internet data and keep in touch with our mentors/friends/family. This came as a welcome relief for some of us, who have not had any internet since arriving in India (some people were certainly missing Instagram a little bit too much).

All in all it has been a great first week and we are very much looking forward to enjoying the remainder of our time in India, The Geo Interns.

Week 2

On our first full weekend in Pune we decided to go for a look around some of the historical monuments that this wonderful city has to offer, to learn more about its origins. Shaniwar Wada Fort was the first stop. Unfortunately, the heavens opened as we arrived leaving a couple of us soaked from head to toe. Flip flops really did come in clutch here. The rain unfortunately looked to be going nowhere so we had to put our sightseeing on hold for now. Instead a quick visit to Pune’s largest mall, Phoenix market city. Imagine every shop you could possibly think of and it’s here. We were oddly greeted by a farmer herding his hundreds of goats right across the entrance to the mall and straight away we noticed one thing, everywhere had a sale. 50% off, buy one get 3 free, you name it. There was plenty stuff to do besides shop such as; numerous restaurants, bars, arcades and screens to watch the cricket. We decided to go for a game of bowling in which it got very close towards the end with Pat just managing the win. The highlight however was Joel’s’ ability to miss all 10 pins twice in a row. To close out the weekend we went on a walk around the nearby area of the campus to try and find some nice spots to visit later on in the week as well as locate the nearest supermarket.

Once the working week started, we all cracked on with our reports that we are all finding both interesting and enjoyable to research. To accompany the research we have been doing in the College throughout the second week, our supervisors organized field visits for each team. Ed and Ollie were the first to embark on an 8 hour round trip to visit the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakara Urban Cooperative Bank, a bank which has helped almost half a million women in rural India to access affordable credit to expand their businesses and improve their financial literacy. They met with its founder, Chetna Gala Sinha – internationally recognized for her work – along with other senior women in the bank who helped it grow to the large successful institution it is today. This visit included a trip to a 200-acre cattle camp giving vital assistance to farmers in the drought prone region of Mhaswad, and an impromptu appearance for a local radio show. I think it is safe to say neither of them are destined to be radio DJ’s.
The team working on the Indian Farmer’s Collectives project also went on a field visit to Aravat Farmer’s Club, one of the most successful collectives since the rise of FPO’s, here they welcomed the newest member of the team that Pat was particularly fond of.

We have all become used to the frequent deliveries of chai (milk tea), coffee and biscuits to the discussion rooms we work in – I don’t think many of us enjoy the prospect of having to get up and move to make our own drinks once we return to the UK. The working environment is very pleasant and relaxed in the naturally lit, air-conditioned rooms, and we have all been making good progress on our projects. The end of this week has begun to get a little bit more intense, as we aim to have a full draft of our reports done by next Friday, but the assurance given in regular meetings with our supervisors has meant we always feel comfortable with the workload. 

To end our week, we went to watch England thrash Australia in the semi-final of the cricket world cup. We watched the game in a rooftop restaurant/bar that had incredible panoramic views across the whole of Pune. Although in the end it was a comfortable win for England, it would have been amazing if India managed to win their semi-final the day before to set up a grudge match between our supervisors and us interns on Sunday. Instead, it will just have to be a more relaxed affair against New Zealand, a match we are still looking forward to heading into central Pune to watch with the locals.  After getting a rickshaw back to the College and a couple of games of pool we were all shattered, getting some sleep in after what was another amazing week in India!

The GEO Interns.

Week 3

We started the weekend with a visit to Lonavala, to visit the Lohagad Fort. The day started with a rickshaw journey to catch our first train. The train journey was eventful to say the least, after being bundled into a train with about a cm of breathing space for two hours and featuring in many selfies. However, some of us were not so fortunate to get on the carriage, Tom ended up on the women’s carriage with an angry lady hitting him with a water bottle for a short period. Upon arrival we took a hike through the village and up to the mountain. Ed introduced a ‘rock game’ to keep us entertained whilst hiking, by saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would result in carrying a rock up the mountain, which got larger if you refused to carry it. After discovering it was quite a trek up the road, that even Bear Grylls would struggle with, we managed to hop in the back of a truck for about 30p each to the top. Just before entering the fort we enjoyed a curry from the street, it had failed to meet the standards of Mr Health & Safety (AKA Ollie) who decided it wasn’t up to the standards of his risk assessment and chose an Imodium for lunch instead. We were confronted with several monkeys and a long slippery queue to reach the summit. At the top we were met with an astonishing 360 view of the area and many monkeys, it’s fair to say they’re not afraid to attack and not keen on pictures. On our descent, the ‘rock game’ continued and became an issue as the rock became a struggle.

Sunday, we proposed a late night curfew to the coordinators (11:30pm) so we can enjoy the Cricket World Cup with the locals. Starting at FML (Food, Music, Love), similar to Mr Health & Safety’s Motto: Live, Love, Laugh. After numerous games of cards we started our pilgrimage to Frozen Monkey. En route, we stopped a jazz bar (minus the jazz) for a curry and a few soft drinks then off to High Spirits for some open mic and to continue watching the cricket. After many deadly soft drinks we arrived at the local watering hole, the Frozen Monkey. We were greeted by lots of New Zealand fans and so the war began. With the cricket ongoing it became closer to our curfew, but this became the least of our worries with the end of the match in sight.

After an eventful weekend it was time to snap back to reality. We continued to crack on with our reports. We also decided to take an evening in and enjoy (once again) Sandeep’s curry and have begun watching Money Heist on Netflix.

Tuesday arrived and while some of us pulled the short straw the previous week and travelled an 8 hour round trip for our field visit, Joel and Tom travelled a mere 30 seconds to visit an engineering cluster and to ask questions regarding their report. Tuesday night, we enjoyed a walk around the local area. Fin has officially found himself through the assistance of a religious ritual from a local religious lady, next step: the elephant painted harems. Joel’s little luck was reversed when a lady bought him a cheeky glass of wine at the 360 Revolving Restaurant.

Thursday, we powered through the end of the week with our first drafts in sight and ready to submit. In the evening we went for some live music at The Hard Rock Café. Here we all enjoyed much needed home comfort in regards to food whilst listening to a tribute band to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. We caught the rickshaws home and Ollie and Tom described their journey as if Xhibit from Pimp my Ride was there himself, they felt like kings with the sound of Nicki Minaj blaring from the back.

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