Get Global

Our students tell us about their Global Internship at the Reserve Bank of India. To find out more information about our Global Internship opportunities, visit our website.

Week 1

 

In order to acclimatise to our new environment Ben and I arrived into Mumbai on the Saturday before our internship commenced. Spending the night in Mumbai, we were immediately struck by disparity in wealth that was apparent just from the short journey from the airport to hotel. Passing by shanty towns it would be mere meters and you would come upon a luxury hotel, fully equipped with airport level security. It was also our first introduction to Indian roads which always promise to be an edge of the seat experience. After our evening meal we spent the night chatting to an extremely friendly Indian couple who gave us the entire lowdown on Indian food (although the names of practically all the dishes have escaped us), politics and a little insight into what we could expect over the next four weeks.

 

 

The following day the remaining five members of our clan arrived and upon meeting our chauffeurs at the airport we began the four-hour journey over the mountains to Pune. Having arrived at RBI’s beautiful campus we were shown to our rooms upon which were overcome with a moment of pure ecstasy and jubilation; we could watch England’s world cup game on the tv, albeit with Hinglish (mix of hindi and English) commentary and the questionable post-match analysis of David James.

There was one individual who did not share this sense of excitement however – Murray. Not only was he Scottish, but he had also lost his baggage during transit to Mumbai. After a series of phone calls and emails, it appeared that the baggage was in Heathrow, and would be delivered to the Campus at some point throughout the week. After the first work day, when Bertie selflessly lent clothes to Murray, the surprisingly Westernised retail infrastructure of Pune was vital to ensure he was not left with purely a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Any item of clothing that one could buy in the UK is available in India, and it is even standard that work trousers be tailored to perfection free of charge. It later appeared that Mumbai airport was not enthusiastic about delivering the luggage, and thus a trip to Mumbai is in the offing for Murray.

Our first full day at the RBI commenced on Monday morning after a hearty breakfast of various curries, chapati, omelettes and coffee. We were invited to a meeting with the board of the CAB where we had an introductory talk and were acquainted with various staff members. We were then taken on a tour around the campus, the highlight being a look around the archives engaging us on an interesting journey back in time to where the RBI began in 1935. After a short walk around the archives we were called for lunch, to the dismay of the curator who determinedly ensured we come back at a later date. More curry for lunch, followed by some initial reading on our project topics tied up our first working day.

 

 

A tiresome first day had us eager for more curry, but first we explored some of the close by streets that Pune offers. After a few minutes of waiting for the traffic lights to turn red allowing us to cross the road, we realised that red, amber and green all mean “Go” and that normal road rules do not apply in India. As always, watching and learning is an effective technique in unfamiliar places, so after observing a local man effortlessly dodge and weave his way through the traffic we followed suit successfully. Following a short walk, our appetites had grown substantially and we devoured our fourth curry in 24 hours. After being demolished at table tennis by some of the local residents of the hostel, we called it a night and got some well-needed sleep.

The rest of the week has been fantastic, we are all very comfortable living at the hostel and are still enjoying the numerous curries throughout the day. The work has been interesting and we have all met our mentors assigned to each project gaining advice and direction on our work for the next few weeks. In the evening we have been enjoying the pool table, table tennis and gym facilities, unsuccessfully trying to counteract the vast quantities of food we have been consuming. We have also ventured further into Pune including trips to a number of shopping malls and a nearby temple named Chattushringi.

 

Week 2

George and Andrea tell us about their second week

 

“India has a greater population that the entire western hemisphere of the earth.”

 

2.8 million motorcycles and 7 western tourists roaming the city. Hailing tuk tuks and dodging traffic we have had a lot to learn. We are now two weeks into our internships here at the Reserve bank of India, and we have started to get into our routines. We are beginning to get to know briefing room 2 very well indeed. Bertie, Ben, Andrea and I sit at a large wooden table in the middle of the office space. A large window lets in natural light, making it a pleasant workspace. Through the window we glance out upon a courtyard, where a tree grows up from the grass. On our desk we are provided with two desktop computers and a printer which we have used extensively to print the research for our projects. Arguably the highlight of the workspace is the whiteboard which sits on the wall adjacent to the desk. This board is now home to our project master plans. One of the great features of the working day here at the RBI is the 10am and 3:30pm tea time deliveries. We have become friendly with the tea men here at the office. One man is particularly friendly, perhaps a little too friendly for some. At the chime of 10:30 each morning he enters in uniform. He carries a tray of biscuits and coffee. Over the two weeks the biscuit variation has been slowly narrowing down to our favourite choice. The cashew biscuit. Now the cashew biscuit is all we get served at tea time, and when the man leans over closely to whisper, “tea for you sir” you know it is time for those delicious treats and a cup of chai or coffee to start your day. The customs here continue to amaze us.

 

 

This week George and I have finished our research and plan for our project report, and have started writing about the exciting topic of Export competitiveness of Indian Agriculture. It is a large subject with many aspects of it, and it is hard to pick out the most important parts as there is so much to write. Our supervisor has given us a target of 40 pages! Looking at export competitiveness from a banking perspective is something that we have never touched on before, which makes is very exciting to learn first hand from our supervisors. The supervisor for George and my project is called Muthuselevan, who is keen on the subject and he has given us plenty of material. We also have the possibility to attend lectures designed for professional bankers. There are experienced bankers working for the RBI stationed all over India gathered at the College of Agricultural Banking to attend the lectures here. They are incredibly knowledgeable, and it is very inspiring to be around so many great minds.

 

We have all realised that no matter what topic we have chosen for the projects, there are certain aspects of the Indian economy that repeatedly comes up in discussion because it is so relevant to what the RBI and commercial bankers are focusing on for the future.  Financial inclusion is something that we all have learned a lot about in the past two weeks. One of the biggest challenges of Indian banking is people being excluded from formal financial services. Imagine British citizens not being able to open a simple bank account or being denied a small loan. That means no student loan, guys. RBI’s College for Agricultural Banking has added their purpose on this serious topic under their sign at the entrance.

 

“Building capacity for inclusive finance.”

 

In the evening we finish work at 5pm. Although we have to be back at the RBI for 9pm we have found plenty of ways to amuse ourselves in the evenings. One evening this week we left the compound and made the short trip to the cinema next door to watch an early evening screening of the Incredibles 2. We all enjoyed the film, but most interesting was the Indian cinema culture which included the fact that there are no adverts before the movie. This left us all entering the film 15 minutes late. Furthermore, we were amused by the seemingly random bouts of laughter that the other cinema goers would come out with as well as enjoying drinks with no lids or straws due to the heavily enforced plastic ban in Pune. After the movie we ate at a local shopping mall where Bertie decided to embark upon a challenge that he had found somewhere deep on the internet. With the low prices of food in India, Bertie seized the opportunity and found a pizza for the equivalent of three pounds, and a subway for the equivalent of one pound fifty. He bought both and proceeded to wrap the subway baguette inside the pizza hut pizza and eat the entire thing as one sloppy, cheesy wrap. It was amusing to watch and we were all glad that Bertie managed to achieve one of his lifelong goals. #bertiethebeast

 

Overall we are all having a fabulous time here in Pune. We are all shocked that 2 weeks have already flown by and the prospect of having to leave in a fortnight is quite daunting. However, we will leave with a new unique set of skills, gaining valuable experience in working with people from another culture. We have also improved our self-motivation, research skills and overall knowledge of the banking sector.

Week 3

Bertie and Ben tell us about week 3 in India

A cracking start to week 3 of our stay in Pune, receiving a life-long blessing from the local god Ganesha in the Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapti Temple.

We began the day by visiting 3 local Urban Cooperative Banks in Pune, organized by our mentor, to undertake some primary research to help with our project. The meetings with CEOs, staff and the like were very insightful as they gave us first-hand examples of the problems they face in microlending to the urban population.

 

 

After multiple coffees, biscuits, nuts, crisps and souvenirs which the banks kindly offered to us, the final bank went as far as to take us to the most impressive temple in Pune, home to the god Ganesha, where we were truly immersed in the culture. This experience was surreal to the say the least! Just 3 weeks earlier we were enjoying the post-exam period at home and suddenly we were at the front of a bustling temple and having just been blessed by the monk, we were waving a flaming metal plate in a clockwise motion (as instructed by the locals) as everyone burst into prayer and began clapping. To be brutally honest, we had no idea what was going on, but it was a very entertaining and enjoyable experience!

 

On our evenings, mid-week, all the focus is on ping-pong. Initially it was a great way to wind down on an evening after doing our work and exploring Pune. After multiple hour-long sessions it’s safe to say we’ve completely drained the fun out of it and become extremely hyper-competitive, backing our chances in the 2020 Toyko Olympics.

After acclimatising to Pune life, we ventured on our first sightseeing trip-the mountains of Panchgani. Our 4-hour trip was filled with anticipation and excitement to see huge waterfalls and incredible landscape. We had taken into consideration that Monsoon season had begun, with waterproofs at the ready, but could not expect the conditions we came up against. Our first stop was a view point across a vast valley-or what was meant to be…instead we were met with a wall of fog! Nothing to see here. With spirits still high we travelled further up the mountain, in search of a waterfall. Our guide dropped us off and we quickly realised the rain was no English drizzle. Walking down steps in a 1-inch river of water, we took back our teasing of Ben who had come in sliders. The sound of crashing water soon reached us, once again with thick fog. Luckily, we caught some brief moments where the clouds parted revealing a stunning view and just how high up we really were…and then it was gone.

 

After a domino’s pizza-more to take us out of the severe downpour than to fill us up-we decided to try our luck once more and visit the ‘Elephants Head’ viewpoint. It wasn’t third time lucky. High winds and driving rain caused the group to split, with half pushing on to see this ‘elephant’. We reached the end of the path and, minus a few gaps in the cloud, the weather didn’t provide the ending of the trip we were hoping for!

A second, more local trip took us to Aga Khan Palace. It was here that Gandhi, his wife and secretary were held in prison following the launch of the Quit India Movement. Held inside the beautiful grounds and palace were many artifacts and statues related to a man held in such high regard both in India and globally. Having learnt about the history of the RBI and India’s currency in the first week, it seemed only right to learn more about the face of the Rupee notes.

 

We finished the day at another one of Pune’s shopping malls. Phoenix Mall dwarfed those previously visited though and we look forward to exploring the rest of its many floors another time.

 

Until then, alvida!

Week 4

Our last week in the College of Agricultural Banking. So sad. A weekend that will be remembered by all of us for a long time.

It started in such a surreal way, through active meditation at the Osho Ashram International Resort. Although yoga is always a possibility when one comes to India, nobody here expected to be dancing like a mad man in a modernised pyramid with forty other people, all wearing maroon robes. Does it make sense? Probably not.

The day started with arrival at the resort. Having done research about the place online, we expected that we would have to do an HIV test. Luckily, we did not. After around half an hour of registration, we bought our entry to the resort, as well as our robes. Some of us were apprehensive about the 4000 rupee price tag, and it’s safe to say that this was not typical India. However, we entered.

Upon entry, there were around 15 pilgrims on our left, dancing to S-Club 7. Fair enough, not what we expected but we’ll see how the day goes. We then had an introductory session, where we were told that anyone who coughs or sneezes would have to leave any meditation session, and would not be able to return. No mention on what happens if someone has a burst of laughter. However, we did not find out, as we all got hypnotised by the world of Osho.

Our first session included a 30 minute 6 sequence dance, followed by 15 minutes of whirling and dizziness, and then a nice lie down after that. The word relaxation did not come directly to mind; however, it would be massively evident in our next session. Osho Nadabrahma; the humming meditation. Cross legged sitting and humming, while moving arms that felt like they were floating, this was definitely an unexpectedly surreal experience.

To conclude the day, we had to shake, shake and shake. “Allow the shaking, do not do the shaking” we were told. “Enjoy it, but don’t will it.” It was surprising to discover the number of different ways one could shake. After another session of wild dancing, half an hour of sitting and lying down concluded our day at the resort. A day we will remember for decades.

The rest of our week has predominately been taken up by preparations for our presentations and finalising our reports. However, we did find time to celebrate Ben’s birthday on Monday welcoming the spring chicken of the group in to adulthood. Ben turned 20 years old on Monday, although you’d never believe it with his youthful looks, lack of facial hair and boisterous smile. We had a splendid evening spent bowling, eating pizza and demolishing cheese covered nachos at a huge mall halfway across Pune. Hands off Murray, its nacho cheese. After eating the equivalent of bodyweight in fast food and Ben having one too many soft drinks we decided to call it a night and head back to the CAB.

Monday to Thursday was spent fine tuning our end of project presentations. After numerous postponements of the presentation date we ended up completing them on Friday morning. With a packed boardroom and an atmosphere you could cut with a spoon, George and Andy eloquently kicked off the morning with an excellent presentation on the Export competitiveness of Indian agriculture. After a bombardment of questions from the board, effortlessly dealt with by George and Andy, Sam, Sam and Sim (Aka SSS Digital Consulting) took the stage to share their knowledge of digital lending practises in India. Ground-breaking. Innovative. Handsome. Three words used to described the SSS team (by themselves). Murray Sim’s exquisite performance outlining his revolutionary “3-Tier Sandbox,” which he claims may change the face of financial regulation forever, had the audience on the edge of their seats and concluded the 2nd of 3 presentations. Last but not least, Bertie and Ben presented their findings on the challenges and prospects of micro-lending by Urban Cooperative Banks in a fantastic presentation, as well as sharing their experiences from their visit to the Ganesh Temple with a coop bank last week. The board seemed very impressed with all of our presentations and were very complimentary of our time at the college.

Coming to the end of our time in India has brought into stark reality what an eye opening experience our short time here has been. Our exposure to Indian culture has been in equal parts both surprising and fascinating, the people have continued to amaze us with their hospitality and kindness, particularly our co-ordinator and all-round helper Monali who we can’t thank enough for everything she’s done for us. As for us we part ways with RBI, either back to UK or on further travels in India, as more rounded individuals with a deeper understanding of the varieties the world has to offer, with core competencies, skills and particularly memories that we can take forward onto whatever adventures the future has to hold.

 

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