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An unforgettable internship at NISM – India

Ou rstudents have been working in Mumbai, India with the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) as part of our global internship programme for Newcastle University Business School Stage 2 students. For more information, visit our website.

Week 1

Arran and his teammate Max from Groningen University tell us about their first week working in Mumbai, India with the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM)

 

Arrival

The first week in Mumbai was all about adapting to our new environment. Koen and Max (Groningen University) arrived at the apartment on Saturday night around 5 am after a few hours delay. Guillermo (otherwise known as Memo) from Boston University had already arrived and was getting over his jetlag of a 13-hour time difference. When we went to bed after a long day, we experienced our first power cut, which was followed by our second shortly after, and a 3rd after that. The morning after, Arran and fellow intern from Newcastle Saysh  arrived, and sparks flew. After some struggles for Saysh with her lost passport we started exploring our surroundings, finding what they promised were real Adidas t-shirts for 200 rupees. During these days we experienced first hand the power of the Indian monsoons, so we sought shelter in a pub called “Tight Bar” (a group favourite). After a couple of ice cold brewskis we immediately forgot about the bad weather. The next few days we spent getting to know each other, the Indian food and a large range of Netflix movies.

 

Our first working days

On Tuesday the internship started officially, with a bang (literally, Salunkhe the tuk tuk driver’s auto broke down). After a warm welcome from Sandip Ghose, NISM’s director, we proceeded to attend lectures consisting of research methods useful for our projects with Mr Panda. The interactive character of the lectures ensured that we fully understood the expectations of our projects. In the early evening a few of us worked out on the roof of our apartment since we had not yet found a gym. After working up an appetite we devoured our food kindly made for us by our now good friend Kartik. We have our own professional Mexican wrap roller, Memo, to tell us how it’s done. On Wednesday we had lectures on the background of the Indian economy and financial systems, in which we were accompanied by Kislay, an Indian intern. In the evening the lads ascended to the temple of iron with our friend Neres to partake in the sweatiest of workouts known to man. However it only cost us 250 rupees each for a 2 week period so we dealt with the lack of AC. This is equivalent to buying 12 Freddo bars in 2017!

Closing in on the weekend

Thursday contained more interesting lectures based on background knowledge of demonetisation. Furthermore, we gained an insight to the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Nifty50 by way of a trading simulation lab. This was fun until Max bought 200 shares in Mahindra & Mahindra and lost thousands of fake rupees and the respect of the rest of the group. The bonding process was continued over a couple of Belgium wheat beers freshly brewed at the Royal Oak as we slowly let Max back into the group. The entertainment provided here was Indians version of WWE wrestling and some old skool groovy tunes.

 

The final working day of the first week we started off by setting out the beginning of our research projects on demonetisation and a cashless economy, and a lecture about derivatives in the Indian stock markets. After work we checked out the mall when suddenly we ran into a playground that all turned us into extremely happy little children for an hour, playing bumper cars, camel racing and basketball.

To celebrate a successful first week in Mumbai, Sandeep, our supervisor, took us out for some Indian food that tested the stomach, followed by some naughty shapes being thrown on the D-floor. We’re planning our first visit to the hectic city centre of Mumbai for the weekend.

Week 2

Business School student Saoirse and her teammates Koen from Groningen University and Guillermo from Boston University tell us about week two of their internship with NISM.  

Saturday July 1st

Today we headed into Mumbai to do some sightseeing. It was super busy and with us being the only Western people there, literally a whole crowd of Indian people wanted selfies with us. We walked around looking at some amazing colonial architecture and saw the Gateway of India which did not disappoint… 

…until the heavens opened and we ended up looking like drowned rats (Memo looked like he’d just won a wet t-shirt competition). But as it’s monsoon season, this is just the usual and after five minutes it stopped and we carried on like before. Walking around the markets, Arran and Max successfully tried their hands at bartering and bought some wavey shades. We then went to Leopold Cafe, an infamous traveller hotspot since 1871, for some dubious looking food and lukewarm Kingfishers.

From there, we went on to the Stock Exchange Bar, as recommended by the interns the year before us, where prices of drinks fluctuate throughout the afternoon. As true finance students, we hedged our risk by making friends with the bartender to ensure fixed prices for our Bombay Sapphires. We sipped G&Ts on the rooftop and people-watched the hustle and bustle of Mumbai city centre, before heading back in an Uber, in which Arran took over the stereo!

 

 

Tuesday July 4th

Consulting with our other supervisor (Mr. Panda) and Professor Chari on Tuesday proved to be beneficial, as we were able to make incremental progress, although the quest for useable data is still ongoing. In the afternoon, we attended a presentation by several Thomson Reuters representatives, who came to NISM to outline the benefits of (and ultimately sell) their Eikon analytics software. While it was not immediately pertinent to our research project, it did offer us a glimpse into how business is conducted in India and the rep was able to give us a useful introduction to the possibilities of the Eikon software. In the evening we were delighted to receive an invitation to the annual SBI Banking and Economics Conclave, to be held on Thursday. 

Wednesday July 5th

Hump day arrived quickly. We had our regular breakfast around 9am and got ready for another day at the office. Our team met with Dr. Latha Chari, who provided guidance for our research. This day we started diving deeper into our project, and the workday flew by.

After the workday was over, we went over to Inorbit Mall to buy a couple necessary goods, such as underwear (because at this point we’re still figuring out what to do about laundry and toiletries). To reward ourselves for our accomplishments of the day, we made a quick stop at Tight Bar. The friendly manager gave us the iconic Tight shirt worn by the employees there as a gift, along with some shot glasses.  Afterwards, we headed back home to relax and enjoy another chill night before a big day on Thursday.

Thursday July 6th

Today was different. We woke up an hour earlier than usual (and even skipped breakfast) for an important event: the 4th SBI (State Bank of India) Banking & Economics Conclave, held at the beautiful Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, just next to the historic Gateway of India. Bankers, economists, business men and women, and journalists from top institutions in the country attended and formed panels where they debated their opinions and standpoints on issues including demonetisation, the new GST (single tax), and future growth opportunities for India.

Lunchtime finally came and we were starving. Today’s meal could be possibly called one of the best we’ve had in India. The best part was the table of desserts, which included ice cream, different small cakes, and rasgulla.

Friday July 7th

Friday morning has so far been another regular workday at the office. We are continuing our research papers and working on the approach papers that are soon-to-be delivered to our supervisor. We look forward to another fun weekend in India!

Week 3

Business School student Arran and Groningen University student Max tell us about week three of their internship with NISM.  

Monday and Tuesday – Soups of the day… Garlic 7/10 & Spicy 9/10

The first couple of days of work were spent continuing our research on demonetisation and the cashless economy, preparing reviews on different reports in order to attain some arguments we could analyse for our literature review. On the Monday evening, the lads thrashed out a big workout. We’re becoming pally with the guys who attend it now. The Wednesday evening was spent again at Inorbit mall, participating in an enticing game of 10 pin bowling, of which Arran came out victorious (winner!). Arran proceeded to bet Max that he couldn’t get 3 pins down in a split. This was a little too close for comfort as Max only missed the 3rd by an inch (great bowling from Max). Finally we had a little trip into the arcade to smash a few hammers and race some virtual cars.

Wednesday – Soup of the day… Chinese noodles 9/10

Almost three weeks in the internship we finally felt welcomed in an official manner after receiving an authorized NISM entry slip with brand new photographs, to use when we go visit companies or conferences. During the day, we were unexpectedly summoned into the (admittedly pretty cool) office of Sandip Ghose, Director of the institute. We reported our progress on the research and discussed our experience of India so far. With words calm and wisely as ever, Mr. Ghose gave us some tips of how to tweak our work and gave us some interesting angles on demonetisation, the newly implemented taxation system (GST) and the digital future of India.

Thursday – Soup of the day…. Spicy (again!) 9/10

Thursday was dedicated to completing our questionnaire about the people’s perception on the impact of demonetisation. After some finalising comments from our supervisors Sandeep and Meraj, we are ready to launch and see how Indian people truly feel about this controversial policy! Although we consume with great pleasure the soups, roti and melted cornettos as deserts, we are slowly showing signs of missing western food. The best indication was given by Arran, who could not resist to stroll down the street to McDonalds for some good ol’ salty fries, half an hour before lunch! Whilst waiting for our indispensable driver (and good enough friend to post about us on Facebook and Instagram!) Salunhke, Saysh and Max discovered a gem of a place that sells our favourite Indian dish Vada Pav in many varieties for the bargain of 10 rupees (equivalent to 12 pennies).

Friday – Soup of the day… Pea soup at RBI! 8/10

Friday morning we woke up a bit earlier than usual to get ready for our trip to one of the offices of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank. But first we met four new interns from Edinburgh (the 5th was about to come a few days later), who were all joining on the trip despite their arrival late in the night and thus only a few hours of sleep. Once arrived at the RBI’s offices we were welcomed with warm words by an extrovert and passionate man with a healthy dose of humour. In the sessions that followed we covered relevant topics related to demonetisation, the architecture of coins and notes, digital payments systems and financial inclusion.  These sessions were meant in the first place to provide a basic framework for these topics, but could be steered in the direction we were interested in by means of a discussion after the presentation. Therefore, they surely were helpful for our research projects. After a long, but interesting day at RBI we felt like we deserved a few cold Kingfishers, so we decided to go out for dinner with both of the groups to celebrate the weekend at Pop Tates accompanied by some weird EDM tunes (luckily we got placed more strategically this time, without being directly in the aim of the sound system!).

Week 4

Our NISM interns tell us about their fourth week in Mumbai, interning with NISM. 

 

Sunday 16th July
On Sunday, all of us had breakfast and lunch all on a huge table, then headed straight into Mumbai. Our Uber driver was fascinated to find that Max was from Europe and proceeded to give him 80 cents that he had lying around in the car, asking him how much it was worth in rupees. We took the Edinburgh students to the Gateway of India, where we were once again swarmed by people for selfies!

After signing 12,438 autographs, we went round famous Colaba market, where Arran bought even more shades, saw chickens and lambs, before proceeding on to Mahatma Gandhi street. Also known as fashion street, it is a super long street selling jeans, tops, shorts, sunglasses, boxers, fidget spinners, fake Vans. We then went to huge green park right beside it, where people were playing cricket and football. The boys joined in playing football whilst Saysh and Kirsten watched.

This was pretty cute, until Saysh and Kirsten were swarmed by a never-ending crowd of people wanting selfies. Eventually, we had to continue on, but not before a boy asked Arran for a photo so he could tell his friends he met a Real Madrid player!

We kept walking, Memo and Max bought some real good street good, and were amazed at the Hindu and Islamic architecture of the train station, high court, and police station.

 

Monday 17th July 
The fourth week of our internship began with a very rainy morning. New interns from the University of Edinburgh arrived at the weekend, and we rested for a little while longer while they took the first rickshaw to work – since they had a week full of introductory events at NISM. Work went well. We are making constant progress on our research. Today’s soup was spicy garlic soup, followed by rice, more curry, and lentils.

 

Tuesday 18th July 
Tuesday was a bit more active. After four weeks, Koen and Memo realized they needed haircuts. After work, they visited a small saloon about a 3-minute walk from NISM. The place was small, busy, and very clean. Koen and Memo communicated with the hair-cutters by means of sign language, and magically got the haircut they asked for – well at least close to what they wanted. The hair-cutters would give you a weird head massage after your cut, which included a little head pounding that Indians curiously find relaxing. A single haircut had a cost of 100 rupees (roughly 1.20 GBP).

 

Wednesday 19th July 
Our research is steadily progressing, although the daily riddles of Edinburgh intern Øyvind kept some of us preoccupied for a large part of the morning. In the afternoon, we set out to get SIM cards. After getting rejected by multiple vendors, our supervisor Mr. Panda took charge and took us to a small stall, where the vendor promised to sell us SIM cards the next day.

 

Thursday 20th July 
The morning started in NISM’s trading lab. After a brief demonstration, we engaged in a fierce trading competition. Everyone put a lot of effort into researching and trading stocks, trying to get the highest return on our fictitious investments, and after an hour Guillermo emerged victorious. Kirsten (Edinburgh) and Arran were also awarded trophies for their valiant effort, as they reached the second and third place respectively.

Friday 21st July
After a good breakfast, we were off to work. If we weren’t awake already, the harrowing rickshaw ride to the office would have certainly done the trick, as our driver Salunkhe seemed to be in a particularly risky mood this morning. Despite multiple failed attempts to overtake a giant truck and a dodging oncoming traffic to avoid near head-on collisions, we eventually reached the office in one piece. With the weekend fast approaching, the day seemed to fly by. Both teams spend most of their time performing data analysis, commonly known as the most exciting part of any research project. High fives were exchanged between Max and Arran as the responses to their online survey poured in. With the Edinburgh crew playing cards in the background, it is difficult not to let the mind wander, to the exciting times that our awaiting us this evening at our favourite haunt; InOrbit Mall. We’ll ring in the weekend with a few frames of bowling, savouring the exotic TexMex cuisine of the local Chili’s branch, and (of course) having a few drinks at the infamous Tight Bar.

Week 5

Max and Arran, our interns from Newcastle and Groningen tell us more about their penultimate week working at NISM in Mumbai, India

Monday

Another week begins at NISM, the usual routine starts as Solunke picks us up at the usual time, happy to see us as ever. The goal of the week was to finish the first drafts of the project. Arran and Max ran into some issues with statistical software when trying to generate our models. Luckily, we got help from an unexpected corner: Mr Akhlaque, specialist in Econometrics and Quantitative Finance. Mr Akhlaque helped us solve some issues in R and EViews, which blocked our progress towards estimating models of digital payment systems.

Tuesday

Once more we were summoned in the morning to the conference room, with Mr. Ghose and some other NISM management staff. They were kindly checking up on how we were doing, asking if we had any problems and suggested things for us to do. This consisted of many warnings of the danger of some street food! We are slowly starting to realise that the internship is coming to an end soon. One of our supervisors, Sandeep, let us know he set our presentations in no more than 7 days, meaning that we should be concluding our projects very soon. We finished the day constructing tables based on the data we had collected from our surveys which the NISM staff helpfully filled out for us.  We also had collected data from nearby vendors which proved incredibly difficult to come by given the language barrier, however was valuable when we got it done.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning started off a bit earlier than usual for Memo, Max and Sander (Edinburgh). They joined the NISM representatives for the inauguration of NISM’s new interactive kiosk for financial education at Canara bank next to Asia’s largest slum: Dharavi. This kiosk is set up by the National Centre for Financial Education, and aims to improve financial literacy in India. People can use these kiosks to read, obtain information and test their knowledge on financial matters. For this reason the inauguration was in Dharavi, where many Indians live in bad conditions and are not aware of most basic financial services. Mr. Ghose gave an inspiring speech about the goals of the project, and the determination that the first hundred kiosks set out in India’s poorest areas will be successful in improving financial literacy. During the night Sandeep took us out for dinner and drinks in a colourful rooftop restaurant, where we could experience once again the different tastes of the Indian cuisine.

Thursday

After some McDonald’s coffee transformed our morning into a productive one, we hopped onto the big white and blue bus for our journey to a new destination for the next 24 hours: NISM’s brand new campus. The campus is based in Patalganga, a small town a little over an hour away from Vashi’s office. It has only been fully operational for a week for only one NISM program, but from August onwards more courses will be provided here. Upon arrival we got guided to our rooms for the night, when we realised we were in a place more modern and luxurious than we have been so far. Everyone had their own room including a balcony with a view over the campus. As the test persons that we are, we had to try out every facility available to us: table tennis, basketball and some intense games of Marco Polo in the pool. We ended the day watching a film on Cam’s (Edinburgh) iPad, sitting in awkward positions on the floor such that everyone was able to watch the screen (we missed our good ol’ HDMI-cable).

Friday

Many of us argued that we had our best night sleep during our internship. Just a fun fact. After breakfast in the canteen, we got ready for our lecture on private equity in India. This rapidly turned into a dialogue between the professor and our boy Oyvind (Edinburgh), firing question after question and getting into the fine details of capital gains taxation and growth prospects of global P.E. investments. Later that day we strolled down over the campus, did some work for our projects, and went for a final swim in the rain before going back to Mumbai. To celebrate this productive, and last “full” week of the internship we got some drinks in a local bar and played some card games.

Week 6

Our NISM interns Guillermo, Saoirse and Max tell us about their final week interning in Mumbai, India.

Monday, July 31st

The time had come. This was our last week as interns for NISM in Mumbai. We felt a sense of excitement and satisfaction as our short but hard work was coming to an end, but at the same time had a feeling of nostalgia as we were spending our last days together.

Monday was officially our last full day at work, since Tuesday we were visiting the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and on Wednesday the teams presented the results of our research to the NISM organizational board. So this day went by very quickly with final touches, editions, and additions being implemented on our work.

Tuesday, August 1st

On this day, we were notified we would visit the NSE and SEBI on the afternoon – and not in the morning as was planned – so we decided to go to the office for a few last hours to finalize our papers and presentations. After lunch, we jumped in to the NISM van and headed downtown for our visit.

Upon arrival to the NSE, we were guided to a conference room where we were served drinks and offered a couple of presentations on the general functions and history of the stock exchange, as well as the several aspects of regulation the NSE is subject to. Photographs of both the interior and exterior of the NSE building were prohibited – which is why we were unable to include images on this blog. However, a Google search of such magnificent building is definitely worth a couple minutes of your time.

Following the visit to the NSE, we then stopped by SEBI, where executive director Amarjeet Singh offered a very interactive presentation on in which we the interns participated in a fun Q&A session with the Director. Following our brief visit, we battled Mumbai´s traffic to head back home for a delicious meal and well-deserved rest for a big day the next day.

Wednesday, August 2nd

This was the day in which our work would be finalized. We arrived to NISM at our regular time (9 AM) in the morning and prepared any final details for our work and even had some time to practice our parts of the presentation. Everyone was a bit nervous but even more proud of our hard work and eager to show our final results in hopes of receiving the approval of the NISM board. At noon, we had lunch and practiced a bit more, but then realized the time had finally arrived as we headed towards the conference room.

The teams presented really well. Some of us were nervous at first, but as soon as we started presenting our final work, a wave of courage and even satisfaction helped us overcome our nervousness and present our work with pride and a smile on our face. After very positive comments and constructive feedback from our peers at NISM, each one of us received a certificate of the completion of our work, took some photographs, and it finally hit us that our work had been finished. It had all gone by very quickly after all.

Right after our presentations were over, NISM Director Sandip Ghose – along with his adorable wife and a couple of helpful NISM employees – invited us to a wonderful dinner in which we never made it to the main course, since we were full after being served entrée after entrée after entrée. It was amazing. What a feast we enjoyed as a final touch to our experience at NISM.

Following dinner, we decided to have a couple drinks as our final goodbye at our now-favorite Tight Bar. These moments again were filled by a mix of feelings: nostalgia for our time together coming to an end but mostly happiness for the time we had shared as a team.

We headed back home early since two out of the five of us had flights to Goa early the following day.

Thursday, August 3rd

On Thursday morning, we woke up early (ish) to prepare: we paid for our gym membership, cleaned our rooms, packed our suitcases, and tipped and thanked the NISM staff that took very good care of us. Early in the afternoon, Arran and Saoirse left for the airport to catch their flight to Goa, where they would meet up with some interns from the RBI programme for a couple weeks of travel.

The rest of us, Koen, Max, and Memo, had dinner with the students from Edinburgh and with our friend Sandeep Biswal from NISM. Following dinner, we went home for an early night´s sleep.

Friday, August 4th

Koen, Max, and Memo woke up early for their early flight to New Delhi. Their plan was to visit the golden triangle for four days – after which Memo would fly back home – and Koen and Max would continue their adventure in India for a couple more weeks before returning home themselves. It all went by very quickly; it was a one-in-a-lifetime experience and lesson none of us will ever forget.

 

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