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View: NSE lies the head that’s prepared

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Covid-19 has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way businesses operate. Before India went on a nationwide lockdown from March 25, Covid cases in some European countries had already peaked, with these countries then announcing full or partial lockdowns. So, well before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lockdown announcement on March 24, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) had started envisaging various possible scenarios that could pan out.NSE’s action plan for each of those scenarios encompassed all critical fronts, including employee safety, market integrity, technology infrastructure, operational resiliency and data safety. This level of planning was essential, given that smooth functioning of markets, with all checks and balances, is of absolute importance. So, once the lockdown was announced, the focus was on execution. NSE transitioned smoothly to a working model that involved critical staff working from office on a rotation basis at primary and alternate sites, and the rest working from home (WFH).NSE took multiple measures to ensure health and safety of its employees, including providing accommodation and transport arrangements to staff who were working from office, formulating a Covid-19 help desk, initiating practices at workplace such as regular sanitisation and temperature checks. Focus was then given on resiliency, technology and cybersecurity. NSE’s operating model has an in-built resilience in place, which includes a robust technology and security infrastructure to ensure that operations are always up and running with all the necessary controls, checks and balances under any scenario. Implementation of a zero-trust model with multi-layered checks and balances ensured that our cybersecurity controls are robust and data and processes are secure.It was also essential to maintain market integrity, as the volatility and volumes were high. Many initiatives were taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to contain volatility to ensure orderly trading and settlement. Since then, these measures have been regularly reviewed. It soon became clear that this operating model was here to stay for long as lockdowns were extended. So, to ensure the continued wellbeing of our employees, NSE introduced additional initiatives such as online gym and yoga, virtual townhalls, rewards and recognitions.This model of working is going to be there for a foreseeable future for NSE. There may be a sense of fatigue setting in, but till such time a vaccine becomes regularly available, NSE will continue to maintain the same level of alertness to ensure that the spread does not become uncontrolled again, as has been the case in some countries.Just as companies across the world are evaluating the ‘new normal’ on remote working, NSE is also continuously evaluating and fine-tuning its way of working to ensure that it reaps the maximum benefit while ensuring that superior controls continue to be in place.The writer is MD-CEO, National Stock Exchange (NSE)

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