Get Global

Creating together

Our interns tell us about their internship at the Reserve Bank of India in Pune. To find out more about our global internship programme for stage 2 students, visit our website. 

 

Week 1

 

To acclimatise to our new unfamiliar home for the next few weeks, we decided to arrive into Mumbai a couple of days before our internship commenced. We arrived into Mumbai at 11:00 local time after a tolerable 9-hour flight thanks to Fawlty Towers and Shrek on the in-board flight entertainment system.

Just as we thought the journey was almost over, we had to travel four hours by taxi to Pune, however, a long McDonald’s stop made it more bearable. It is fair to say that the urban and rural surroundings on the journey were rather overwhelming as it was nothing like anything we had experienced before-the busy highways, wildlife, inequality in wealth and the views.

We occupied ourselves in the evenings by exploring Pune and playing sports such as table tennis, pool, football and cricket. It didn’t take long for a group of locals to challenge us to a competitive game of cricket!

Agent Jacks, our favourite place to visit in the evening

 

In terms of the project, we had an initial meeting with all our supervisors on the first day and we were shown around the fascinating RBI campus which is to be our home for the following six weeks. We spent the first week thinking about the project. We have also been given a couple lectures enlightening us about the Indian culture and the functions of the Reserve Bank of India.

Week 2

 

By the second week, the majority of the group have learned the ropes and acclimatised to both the people of India and their immersive culture. This week felt shorter than our first, mainly because it was filled with an assortment of different activities and lectures. On Saturday we ventured out to the Phoenix Mall, which is an upscale mall with many Western outlets and restaurants located near the airport toward the northeast of Pune. We treated ourselves to a competitive game of bowling as well as to the delicious Western food that our stomachs have yearned for after almost 2 weeks of Indian cuisine.

On Sunday, the group split in two with Jiseop and Luz going to our mentor Ramani’s house for avacaya rice and tea. The rest of the boys went to visit Pataleshwar, which is a 7th century cave temple located near the Reserve Bank of India campus. After exploring the cave temple, we ventured to the Shaniwar Wada Palace, which is a historical Marathan fort located in the center of Pune. To top off our day of cultural immersion, David had a traditional red dot painted on his forehead by a local, partially without his consent.

The weekdays were a stark contrast to the office life in the first week as we had many different members of faculty come in to provide lectures discussing topics such as financial inclusion, agricultural banking, and the overall culture of Pune as well as the many different states of India.

In addition to our lectures, on Thursday we had an unexpected field trip to Solu, which is a small village about an hour’s car ride from the RBI headquarters. We visited the Business Correspondent who provides banking and financial services to the local village of a population approximately 2,000. Afterward, we got a chance to visit the local temple in Alandi where we adhered to local customs and removed our shoes and took many photos with the locals as well as bowed to Ganesh, the Indian deity.

Week 3

 

Week three in Pune was a bit less eventful than our previous ones as everyone finally began to delve into their projects. That overwhelming feeling we had when we first arrived in India passed; the food isn’t as spicy, rickshaws feel like the new Uber and a chicken burger at McDonald’s is the new Nando’s.

By Wednesday we finally started working on our actual projects. We were given the opportunity to do 3 field visits in a single day, giving us insight we would’ve never acquired from a book. We first visited Mann Deshi, a foundation and bank meant to empower women. We had the opportunity to interview clients and bankers, helping us understand why they choose to bank there rather than at a larger corporation. We then met the CEO of Bhagini Nivedita, another female based cooperative bank. Our questionnaires and first hand experience at these banks gave us a sense of direction for our project.

On Friday we decided to go to the local market on Laxmi Road. We found ourselves surrounded by people, food and small shops with artisanal clothing, jewelry, shoes and countless things I have never seen before. Not a single item was monochromatic, everything was laced in gold and bright reds, even the food seemed lively. The market smelt like an array of exotic, yet to be explored spices. Jiseop had been pining for a turban and finally found one in the market, much to the enjoyment of all the locals, he even had a local shop keeper setting it on his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4

Last weekend, we wanted to prioritise exploring and hiking. A couple of us had heard a lot of great things about a local hiking spot hidden in the mountains in a small rural area called Panchgani. We hit the road and the scenic route was a sight to behold as we slowly dragged up the mountain side.

We arrived in Panchgani, and decided to walk 3-4 kilometres to a local trail called Gureghar – this was opposite Mapro Gardens, a small marketplace for locals to enjoy their renowned strawberry jams and juices. Whilst we waited for the torrential rains to calm before starting the hike, Harry, George and Jack became the local attraction when they decided to imitate WWE wrestlers and wrestle in the pouring rain on a public trampoline…

We made it up to the top of the viewing point where there was a 360-degree view of the area – the view was somewhat disrupted by the low fog. To further increase our cultural awareness of this very interesting place we thought it would be a good idea to visit a local wax museum – this was a place that was host to many a great global figures and icons such as Mother Theresa, Abe Lincoln, Gandhi and, of course… John Cena.

After our enjoyable weekend, it was back to our projects. on Monday. After a few weeks of research,

we finally prepared to write our reports and formulate our presentations. Myself and David went on a field trip on Tuesday to a ‘local’ Farmer Producer Company (as our project regards FPCs and how they can be better financed by banks). We were greeted very warmly by the Board of Directors and we asked them a series of questions that would be put towards our report as primary research. They also showed us a few of the investments they had made in grain processing and even welcomed us into their home for chai. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and it was great to see how a group of 570 farmers had come together to improve their financial and social outcomes through collective action.

 

 

Week 5

 

A bright and early start saw the group wake up at 8am sharp on an overcast and gloomy Sunday morning in anticipation for our field trip to the National Defence Academy (NDA). The NDA campus was the first military education training centre in the world to comprise of all three services of the military – the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy. The aim of the campus is to train and develop the future officers of the Indian military, meaning admission to the academy is not only prestigious but also highly selective. Not only do officers study the art of warfare, they are also encouraged to learn a variety of subjects including Maths, Sciences and Foreign Languages. Most recruits also take up physical activities such as horse riding and swimming, with some even excelling at national level. For all we know, we may have passed the Indian Michael Phelps!

The hospitality at the academy was excellent, all the recruits spoke excellent English and introduced us to their famous Iced Coffee. The sprawling green campus was home to 2,400 new recruits and a variety of wildlife including monkeys, snakes, peacocks and hyenas. We received a tour from each respective service, including the opportunity to play on the Ship Simulator at the Navy base.

In regards to the work projects, it was business as usual. All groups have up to this point made sufficient progress. For example, Ben and Jack this week were able to head over to the archives department of the CAB, where the staff were extremely helpful as they provided us with any RBI printed out documents.

On Tuesday the group as a whole were taken to a local slum where we were given the opportunity to hand out questionnaires to the local people in regards to their banking services. The experience of getting deep into a slum was an overwhelming experience for us all, the people were very friendly and the conditions were of course nothing most of us had experienced. It really did put the poverty into perspective.

On Wednesday as part of their project, George and Luz went on a field visit to various commercial banks across Pune, guided by their supervisors who offered translation services.

Unfortunately on Thursday we encountered the most difficult and challenging test thus far in the internship – having to wake up at 5am for an exhausting four hour car journey to Mumbai. We arrived around 10am in the sprawling economic city, under the mammoth structure of the RBI central headquarters. This colossal skyscraper towered over the city, providing excellent views of the port of Mumbai when inside. Security was so tight that it felt like we were about to walk into the White House! However, we were a tad early for our meeting so we explored the RBI monetary museum where we saw a wide variety of coins and currency showcasing the history of money throughout India.

In the afternoon, we had an informative presentation by two representatives from the ISME accelerator bank who gave us a detailed overview of Financial Technology (FinTech) in India. Whilst this benefitted Joe and Jiseop’s project the most, the presentation was our best to date and captivated everyone, particularly when talking about intriguing and relevant financial topics such as Bitcoins and Blockchain. We were told to stop asking questions as we had to rush back to Pune so we would be in back in time for dinner!

Week 6

Our final week was focused on finishing our reports and preparing for our presentations in front of our supervisors, senior faculty members and Madame Principle, who heads up the College. With a Monday morning deadline many of the groups were working over the weekend to make the final edits to their reports. Each group produced well over 10,000 words with topics ranging from FinTech to Farmer Producer Organisations.

After receiving some feedback on our reports, the presentations were scheduled for Wednesday morning. However, we got an insight into India’s bizarre work culture when on the morning of the presentations we were told that they had been postponed. Following much confusion and consternation our presentations went ahead that afternoon. Although called a presentation, a more appropriate word would be discussion. Questions were continually posed and there was much debate as they tested our understanding of the topics. David and Harry found their presentation running well over the one hour mark! Having completed our presentations and the internship programme it was time to give out gifts to our supervisors and say some emotional goodbyes.

After completing the internship programme we have been left with some time to reflect on our time in India. The past six weeks have been an incredible experience filled with many highs and some lows and along the way we have made some lifelong friends, ensuring that ‘The Special Relationship’ is still very much intact.

This internship has been about much more than just what we have learned in the classroom and in preparing our reports. We have experienced a different way of life and gotten an insight into the thoughts and aspirations of a proud nation which wishes to be truly powerful on the international stage.

Our time here has opened our eyes to the incredible challenges that India faces. We have witnessed striking inequality and many people living in economic despair. However we have also encountered the defiant and optimistic spirit of the Indian people.

We would like to thank those who have made this internship possible, especially the Reserve Bank of India. Also we would like to thank all of the staff at the CAB campus for being so welcoming and making our time there so enjoyable.

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