Current Affairs Current Affairs - 27 February 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 27 February 2016

General Affairs 

Air Force To Induct 8 Squadrons 'Tejas' In 8 Years: Manohar Parrikar
  • Air Force To Induct 8 Squadrons 'Tejas' In 8 Years: Manohar ParrikarNEW DELHI:  The Air Force will induct three to four indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' this year and a total of eight squadrons in eight years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today.

    He told the Lok Sabha that a Letter of Intent for procuring 120 Tejas was issued and the first aircraft was inducted by the IAF in 2015 and three to four would be inducted this year.

    "We are also in the process of approving the second line of manufacturing to the HAL so that they can produce 16 aircraft per year. In the next eight years, you will have about eight squadrons of LCA," he said during the Question Hour.

    Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is the nodal organisation for the development of 'Tejas'.

    Mr Parrikar said India has been importing 15 per cent of the global arms imports which has now come down to 14 per cent.

    India's arms import bill has also come down from around Rs. 35,000 crore to Rs. 24,900 crore now, he said.

    The Defence Minister said Indian defence industries, ordnance factories and shipyards have been functioning in full capacity and the orders received by them have increased substantially over the years.

    They have orders to the tune of Rs. 1,60,000 crore and they would not be able to complete all orders even in the next ten years, he said, adding that these orders were indigenous, mostly from the government, and just two per cent orders from abroad.

    Replying to another question, Mr Parrikar refuted a suggestion that India's budget allocation for defence sector was low in comparison to countries like the US, China and Pakistan, saying the pensions of defence personnel was not part of the defence budget.

    He said modernisation of the armed forces was a continuous process based on threat perception, operational challenges and technological changes to keep the armed forces in a state of readiness to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges.

    "Government attaches the highest priority to ensuring that the armed forces are sufficiently equipped to meet any operational requirement. This is achieved through induction of new equipment and technological upgradation of capabilities," he said.

India Nears Completion Of Nuclear Triad With Armed Submarine
  • India Nears Completion Of Nuclear Triad With Armed Submarine
    India is close to becoming the world's sixth country to put a nuclear-armed submarine into operation, a move that would give it a leg up on neighboring Pakistan and intensify a race for more underwater weapons in Asia.

    The 6,000-ton Arihant, developed over the past three decades under a secret government program, is completing its final trials in the Bay of Bengal, according to a senior navy officer who declined to be identified because he's not authorized to speak about the program. The vessel will be operated by the navy yet remain under the direct control of India's Nuclear Command Authority headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The deployment would complete India's nuclear triad, allowing it to deliver atomic weapons from land, sea and air. Only the United States and Russia are considered full-fledged nuclear triad powers now, with China and India's capabilities still largely untested.

    India's move may prod China to bolster its undersea arsenal and assist nuclear-armed allies Pakistan and North Korea in developing similar technologies. That risks potentially more dangerous altercations in Asia's waters, where territorial disputes have contributed to a region-wide naval buildup.

    "You will probably see more friction in maritime sub-regions such as the South China Sea or the Bay of Bengal, which China and India increasingly view as their future bastions" for nuclear ballistic-missile submarines, said Iskander Rehman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution's foreign policy program. "Tensions will no doubt arise from subsurface encounters in such areas, particularly as both conventional and nuclear submarines continue to proliferate throughout the Indo-Pacific region."

    On Nov. 25, the Arihant reportedly test-fired a training missile, the Indo-Asian News Service reported, citing officials it didn't identify. Defense spokesman Nitin Wakankar didn't respond to questions seeking comment on the submarine's deployment or the test.

    Both India and China espouse a no-first-use policy on nuclear arms. Their efforts to arm submarines with atomic weapons are theoretically aimed at preventing the outbreak of war by discouraging enemies from attacking. Ballistic-missile submarines are considered to have played such a deterrent role in the Cold War.

    The U.S., U.K., France, Russia and most recently China now have nuclear-armed submarines in operation. The 110-meter long Arihant would be harder to detect than India's nuclear weapons on land and air, giving it a "second-strike" capability to retaliate powerfully against an enemy who managed to destroy the rest of the arsenal.
    China began combat patrols of an armed nuclear-powered submarine last year, the Washington Times reported in December, citing the U.S. Strategic Command and Defense Intelligence Agency. While China hasn't made a formal announcement, and U.S. officials haven't confirmed that nuclear-tipped JL-2 missiles were on board the submarines conducting patrols, they have no evidence that the vessels weren't armed.

    "Given China's known capabilities and their efforts to develop a sea-based deterrent, in absence of indicators to the contrary, it is prudent to assume that patrols are occurring," Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for the Strategic Command, told the Washington Times.

    Even so, neither India nor China has quite reached the technical prowess to give them a credible nuclear deterrent. Their submarines are loud and easily detected, making them an unlikely second-strike asset, the Lowy Institute for International Policy said in a September report.

    Potentially more worrisome is that neither Pakistan nor North Korea subscribe to a no-first-use policy, and there are signs that both nations are pursuing cruder methods of deploying nukes at sea.

    Last year, Pakistan finalized a deal to buy eight Chinese conventional submarines, raising concerns that they could be equipped with riskier nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. North Korea also claimed to have tested a submarine-launched missile and said that it had developed technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.

    "There will likely be a long phase of initial instability as China and India start deploying nuclear missiles on submarines," the Lowy report said. "Chinese and Indian nuclear-armed submarines -- along with possible Pakistani and North Korean units -- may remain detectable by adversaries, making their activities unpredictable in times of crisis. Moreover, these supposedly stabilizing new forces may worsen wider maritime tensions."

    China boasts at least 62 submarines, including four capable of firing nuclear ballistic missiles, according to the Pentagon. China's construction of artificial islands, radar facilities and runways in the South China Sea may be aimed at using the territory as a base for its nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet, the Lowy report said.

    The Arihant will be India's first nuclear-powered and armed vessel that has been designed and built at home. The country is believed to have begun work on it in the 1980s with help from the Soviet Union, particularly on the vessel's miniaturized reactors. In 2012, India also leased a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia under a 10-year, $1 billion contract. The two countries are negotiating a deal to lease another one, the Pioneer reported this month, citing Alexander M. Kadakin, Russia's ambassador in New Delhi.

    Despite numerous setbacks, India is making progress on developing the weapons to arm the undersea vessels. In 2013, India test-fired an underwater ballistic missile with a range of 750 kilometers, the Hindu reported, citing an unidentified scientific adviser to the defense minister. Last September, India's Defense Research and Development Organization publicly acknowledged having readied a submarine-launched ballistic missile with a 3,500-kilometer range at an awards event for military scientists attended by Modi.

    India needs to show the world it can capably and effectively operate the nuclear-armed submarine, said Jon Grevatt, Asia-Pacific defense-industry analyst for IHS Jane's. The "important milestone" is part of a bigger strategy to ensure its security, he said.

    "The Arihant is a stepping stone for India," he said. "I don't think it will alter the balance of power in the region unless India has a fleet of four or five such submarines."

Water Storage In Reservoirs At 32 Per Cent Of Total Capacity: Government
  • Water Storage In Reservoirs At 32 Per Cent Of Total Capacity: GovernmentNEW DELHI:  Availability of water at 91 major reservoirs in the country is at 32 per cent of their total capacity and 23 per cent less than the levels reported during the corresponding period last year.

    According to a statement by the Union Water Resources Ministry, for the week till February 25, storage in major reservoirs was 51.2 billion cubic metres (BCM) as against the total capacity of 157.799 BCM.

    The current stock is 76 per cent of the 10-year average for the corresponding period.

    While Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tripura have reported better storage vis-a-vis last year, Andhra Pradesh- Telangana (combined projects in both states) have reported same water levels as that during the corresponding period last year, the statement said.

    States that have reported lower storage than last year are Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, it added.

'Will Cut Off Head': Smriti Irani Gets Reminder From Mayawati
  • 'Will Cut Off Head': Smriti Irani Gets Reminder From MayawatiNEW DELHI:  Two days ago, Union Minister Smriti Irani had dramatically declared in Parliament that she would cut off her head and place it at Mayawati's feet if her reply did not satisfy the BSP leader.

    Today, Ms Mayawati seized the chance to remind the minister of that statement.

    The Uttar Pradesh politician, speaking during a debate in the Rajya Sabha on Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula's suicide, said she was not convinced by the minister's response to her questions.

    Mayawati had demanded that a Dalit be included in the Centre's panel inquiring into the death of Rohith, who hung himself at the Hyderabad Central University on January 17, days after being banned from the hostel and other areas on campus for allegedly attacking an activist of the BJP-linked students' union ABVP. Rohith's supporters and opposition parties allege that he was ostracized because he was a Dalit.

    "My question was whether a Dalit member is part of the Commission, the government has not answered this so far," said Ms Mayawati.

    "The minister had said she would cut off her head. I am not satisfied and since you said that you will cut off your head, what will you do?" she challenged the minister. Loud cheers and laughter rose from the opposition benches.

    Shouting above the noise, Ms Irani shot back: "You can ask your workers to take away my head."

    This is the second time in two days that Ms Irani and Ms Mayawati have sparred over the Rohith Vemula controversy, which has triggered an acrimonious political debate over caste discrimination in colleges.

Palghar Midday Case: ISKCON Centre Booked For Supplying Meal
  • Palghar Midday Case: ISKCON Centre Booked For Supplying MealTHANE:  A case was registered today against a meal centre run by spiritual organisation ISKCON after over 100 students were hospitalised in Palghar due to consumption of khichdi supplied by the organisation.

    An offence under Indian Penal Code section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) has been lodged against ISCKON Food Relief Foundation Company, Wada, Vikramgadh Police Station Inspector Sunil Nandwalkar told Press Trust of India.

    Over 50 students of a school at Kasa Budruk village in Palghar complained of severe stomach ache and nausea immediately after eating the packed food under midday meal scheme yesterday afternoon which was supplied by the ISKCON center at Wada.

    Later, all 280 students were taken to Kasa Rural Hospital for medical checkup as a precautionary measure and 104 were hospitalised. "Of the 104, two children were discharged while 102 are still under observation at the Kasa Rural hospital. They would be hospitalised for some more time till they completely recuperate as most of them reside at far off places," the officer said.

    The food samples were yesterday collected and sent for laboratory analysis.

    Palghar Zila Parishad president Surekha Tethle said a notice has been issued to ISKCON, which supplies food to 1,200 schools in Palghar, Vikramgadh, and Wada.

    "Based on the results of samples, we will take further action against the supplier," she said.

    Food and Drugs Administration Joint Commissioner, Konkan region, Suresh Deshmukh, who monitored the situation last night, said it was a serious matter and a team of FDA has been dispatched to the food processing units of ISKCON at Wada and Palghar.

    "Our first step will be to ascertain the cause behind the incident. Once the test (sample) report are out, we will act further on it," Mr Deshmukh said.

Business Affairs 

    Sensex gains 178 points, Nifty holds 7,050 ahead of Budget 2016
    • Sensex gains 178 points, Nifty holds 7,050 ahead of Budget 2016Snapping the three-session long losing spree, the S&P BSE Sensex settled the day 178 points higher to regain its crucial psychological level of 23,000, while broader CNX Nifty ended above its key 7,050-mark.  
      The headline indices gained after the Economic Survey projected the Indian economy to grow at 7-7.75 per cent in 2016-17, which could accelerate to 8 per cent in a couple of years.
      It is over to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley now, who will table Budget 2016 on Monday. 
      The 30-share index ended the day at 23,154, up 178.30 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 6,970, up 48.10 points at close.
      Market breadth turned fairly positive with 19 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in green.
      Shares of United Spirits gained over 6 per cent intraday as Vijay Mallya quit as Chairman of the company after its new majority owner Diageo agreed to pay Rs 515 crore and absolve him of all liabilities over alleged financial lapses at the company founded by his family. The scrip ended 2.45 per cent higher.
      Markets also too cues from positive trend seen in Asian markets as global finance ministers and central bankers gathered in Shanghai to participate in a two-day G-20 meet that kicked off today.
      Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.95 per cent after a 6-per cent fall on Thursday, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 2.52 per cent. Japan's Nikkei also notched up 0.30 per cent.

      Despite hopes and fears, Budget 2016 unlikely to send market crashing, say experts
      • Despite hopes and fears, Budget 2016 unlikely to send market crashing, say expertsWhile the investor community on Friday exuded more fears than hopes with regard to the Union Budget 2015-16 on the penultimate session of the event, if we go by what analysts say, the Budget announcements are unlikely to bring in any major crash to the market in the near-term.
        On Friday, the 30-share index settled the day at 23,154, up 178 points, while the broader 50-share index quoted 6,970, up 48.10 points at close.
        The gains made were, however, quite lower than the ones seen on European markets, as domestic investors remained cautious and maintained low expectations from the event, even as the Economic Survey 2016 painted a rosy outlook for the economy.
        Amisha Vora of Prabhudas Liladhar believes markets will not move beyond 5 per cent in any direction from the current levels and that range will be more dictated by the global risk uncertainties rather than Budget.

        "I see little reason why the risk-off in the global markets and also the reverse-flow from emerging markets will change in a hurry. We believe markets will move in the plus/minus range of a 5-per cent post Budget," said Vora to Business Today online.
        Dinesh Rohira, Founder & CEO of sees Sensex and Nifty to hit 22,600 and 6,900 levels if the government fails to come up with a bold Budget and follows the same footsteps as last two years.
        "Domestic markets will correct unless there are some bold reforms, like the 1997 or 1991 budget, which will change the face of the economy or at least a budget that will promise a policy framework for bolder reforms in the coming future," said Rohira.

        However, Ambareesh Baliga, independent market analyst does not see any major crack on the indices post budget unless there are specific anti-market measures. He expects Nifty is likely to remain in range between 7,000 and 7,600 over the next two months.

        It is notable, the benchmark indices, riding on the Reserve Bank of India's surprise rate cut, had hit their all-time highs three days after Jaitley presented Budget 2015.

        The 30-share index climbed to 30,024, while 50-share index hit 9,119 on March 04, 2015 after the RBI cut its repurchase (repo) rate by 25 basis points to 7.50 per cent.

        The current repo rate stands at 6.75 per cent.

        RBI may have exuded confidence in the government's fiscal consolidation path mapped in the Budget 2015, analysts do not expect the same to repeat  this year with little room left with government to adjust its kitty on account of additional outgo towards 7th Pay Commission and One Rank One Pension (OROP).

        Baliga said out-of-policy action post budget is unlikely as maintaining fiscal prudence on the part of government will be difficult in the current scenario. He expects status quo in the first half of the calendar year.

        Shrey Jain, Founder and MD, SAS also feels RBI rate cuts will happen in the second half of the year, and that too by a modest 50 basis points.

        "In all likelihood, the government will opt for pump-priming the economy. Enhanced government expenditure could prove inflationary and will reduce the scope for the RBI to cut rates," said Jain.

        However, Amisha Vora said the actual action on interest rates would not merely depend on fiscal deficit, if US Federal Reserve goes for a rate hike, Rajan will not be left with more choices but to cut rates.

        Economic Survey 2015-16: Govt should review medium-term fiscal strategy
        • Govt should review medium-term fiscal strategyGovernment should review its medium-term fiscal strategy, the Economic Survey recommended on Friday, an indication of the challenge Finance Minister Arun Jaitley faces to raise pay for government employees and bail out banks without increasing borrowing.
          The Economic Survey, which sets the scene for Jaitley's third annual budget on Monday, forecast that the Indian economy would grow by between 7.0 percent and 7.75 percent in the 2016/17 fiscal year that starts on April 1.
          Although Asia's third-largest economy has overtaken China's as the world's fastest-growing, weak business investment and a growing bad loan problem will compel Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep the spending taps open to deliver on his promise of jobs for India's 1.3 billion people.
          The government will need to cover the estimated $16 billion cost of a once-in-a-decade pay and pensions hike for federal employees. The report also put the cost of recapitalising banks at $26 billion in the coming years.
          Although the government will stick to its budget deficit target of 3.9 percent of gross domestic product in the year drawing to a close, the coming year will be "challenging" from a fiscal point of view, the report said.
          The report, written by economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, said that "credibility and optimality" argued in favour of sticking to next year's deficit target of 3.5 percent of GDP but left room for an upward revision.
          "The time is right for a review of the medium-term fiscal framework," the text, handed out to in parliament, said.
          Subramanian has called previously for increasing the deficit, only to be rebutted by central bank governor Raghuram Rajan who argues that India should keep its power dry in case the weakening world economy tips into a recession.
          Raising pay for 10 million federal employees would not destabilise prices, the report said. Low inflation had taken hold and confidence in price stability had improved.
          Inflation is expected to decline to 4.5 percent to 5.0 percent in the 2016/17 fiscal year, within the Reserve Bank of India's target, while the current account deficit would remain low at 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product.

          Economy to grow at 7-7.5% in 2016-17, 7.6% in current year
          • Economy to grow at 7-7.5 pc in 2016-17Ahead of the Union Budget, the Economic Survey today termed external environment as challenging but projected a 7-7.5 per cent GDP growth rate in the next fiscal which could accelerate to eight per cent in a couple of years.
            The Economic Survey for 2015-16, which was tabled in Parliament today, also made a case for carrying forward the reform process to achieve macro-economic stability.
            Inspite of challenges and lower than projected GDP growth rate during 2015-16, "the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent of GDP seems achievable."
            After a 7.2 per cent economic growth in 2014-15, it said the expansion in economy will be 7.6 per cent in the current fiscal, the fastest in the world.
            However, it cautioned that if the world economy remained weak, India's growth will face considerable headwinds.
            On the domestic side, two factors can boost consumption, increased spending from higher wages and allowances of government workers if the 7th Pay Commission is implemented and return of normal monsoon.
            At the same time, the Survey enumerated three downside risks - turmoil in global economy could worsen the outlook of exports, contrary to expectations oil price rise would increase the drag from consumption and the most serious risk is the combination of these two factors.
            "One of the most critical short-term challenges confronting the Indian economy is the twin balance sheet problem - the impaired financial positions of the public sector banks and some corporate houses. The twin balance sheet challenge is the major impediment to private investment and a full-fledged economic recovery," the Survey said.

            Freedom 251 has nothing to do with Make in India: Amitabh Kant
            • Freedom 251 has nothing to do with Make in India: Amitabh KantDIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant on Thursday washed his hands of the Freedom 251 phone, which has run into a major controversy with questions being raised over the company providing mobile handset at a dirt cheap price.
              "This is not a Govt project. Make in India team has nothing 2 (to) do with this," tweeted Kant, the outgoing secretary of DIPP which is the nodal agency for the 'Make in India' campaign.
              In an earlier tweet on February 19, Kant had said: "It's not d (the) price of handset; its broadband connectivity & operational cost: Freedom 251: priced at Rs 251".
              On this tweet, some Twitter users raised objections as why a government representative of 'Make In India' was clarifying on behalf of Freedom251 company, which has been embroiled in controversy since the launch of the smartphone.
              In another controversial turn of events in the Freedom 251 saga, Ringing Bells has been accused of "fraud" and non-payment of dues by its customer service provider -- a charge refuted by the smartphone company.
              Ringing Bell has on the other hand accused the BPO company, Cyfuture, of having failed in handling the huge traffic of customer calls.
              Noida-based Ringing Bells unveiled a 3G smartphone at Rs 251, taking by surprise industry players who raised questions over the possibility of such phone at the promised price.
              An equivalent model of the phone is available in market for about Rs 3000-4,000.
              However, the company received a huge response from customers on the first day of opening of registration for the promised smartphone leading to crash of its website.
              The company claims to have received bookings from about 30,000 people and over registration by 7 crore people.
              The Telecom Ministry is also keeping a close watch over the development with Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad saying that the company would face action if it fails to deliver the promised smartphone.
              The online payment service provider of the Ringing Bells, PayU Biz, has kept money in an escrow account and will release it to the company after its ships the Rs 251 mobile phone.

            General Awareness

            Prabhu’s Era: Rail Budget 2016-17

              • On 25th February 2016, Railway Budget for the fiscal year 2016-17 has been presented by Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu.
                • The key budget document dubbed “Annual Financial Statement” aka “Budget Statement”, showing estimated receipts and expenditure, has to be laid before Parliament in respect of every financial year which runs from 1st April to 31st March w.r.t Article 112 of the Constitution.
                Prabhu’s Era Rail Budget 2016-17Before heading towards the complete highlights of the rail budget let’s take a brief view on the history of rail budget:
                • In 1920-21, a 10 member Acworth Committee headed by British railway economistWilliam Acworth made a “Acworth Report” which led to separation of railway finances of India from the general government finances in 1924.
                • The first live telecast of railway budget took place on 24 March 1994.
                • Lalu Prasad Yadav presented the railway budget 6 times in a row, as he remained the Railways Minister from 2004 to May 2009.
                • In 2000, Mamata Banerjee became the first women Railway Minister of India.
                • In 2002, she also became the first female Minister of Railways to present theRailway budget.
                • In 2014 railway budget, Railway Minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda announced the first bullet train and 9 High-Speed Rail of India.
                Here are the complete Highlights of Railway Budget:
                • Slogan for all – “Sabka saath sabka vikas”
                • 3R’s of Budget – Restructure, Reorganize and Rejuvenate
                • Capital expenditure – Rs 1, 21,000 crore
                • Expected Operating Ratio – 92%
                • Expected Revenues – Rs 1,84,820 cr next year
                • Budgetary support from Govt – Rs 40,000 crore
                • Saving from last year’s estimates – Rs 8,720 crore
                • Innovation grants to start-ups – Rs 50 crore
                • Head of innovative council of Indian Railways – Ratan Tata
                • Insurance company agreed to fund Rs 1.5 lakh – LIC
                • Expenditure on Modernization of railway infrastructure in 5 years – Rs 8.5 lakh crore
                • Elimination of unmanned level crossing – By 2020
                • Proposed freight corridors – Delhi-Chennai, Kharagpur-Mumbai, Kharagpur-Vijayawada
                • Location of India’s first rail auto hub – Chennai
                • New name for coolies – Sahayaks (will be trained in soft skills)
                • North East India states to be connected through broad gauge – Mizoram & Manipur
                • Cabinet approval for joint ventures with state govts – 6 MoUs signed with state govts
                • Sub-quota for women in each of the reserved categories in catering – 33%
                • Increase in seat quota for senior citizens – 50%
                • Number of bio toilets & additional toilets in 475 stations – 17,000
                • Publishing of magazine in all regional languages – Rail Bandhu
                • Initiation of WiFi services – 100 stations this year
                • Commissioning of new tracks – 2800 km
                • Electrification – 1,600 km in this year and 2,000 km proposed for the next year.
                For Unreserved Passenger:
                • Antyodaya Express – A long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service to be operated on dense routes.
                • Two to four Deen Dayalu coaches will be introduced in some long distance trains for unreserved travel to enhance our carrying capacity for the masses.
                For the reserved passenger – Humsafar, Tejas and UDAY:
                • Humsafar – Fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals.
                • Tejas – Will showcase the future of train travel in India by operating at speeds of 130 kmph and above, it will offer onboard services such as entertainmentlocal cuisine,Wi-Fi, etc.
                • UDAY – Utkrisht DoubleDecker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY) Express on the busiest routes, expected to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%.
                SMART Coaches:
                • New SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) coaches would cater to emerging needs of customers and also ensure lower unit cost of operations due to higher carrying capacity.
                Ticketing facilities:
                Plan to introduce bar-coded tickets on pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel.
                Ticket vending machines – Initiating sale of platform tickets through ticket vending machines which would be made compatible with cash and credit/debit cards
                • Intend sale of tickets through hand-held terminals for short-distance travellers.
                • Introduced 1,780 automatic ticket vending machines.
                E-ticketing facility – Railways will open the e-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and NRIs.
                • Enhanced capacity of e-ticketing system from 2000 tickets/min to 7,200/min.
                • E-booking ticket facility on the concessional passes available to journalists.
                • Facility of cancellation of tickets through 139 telephone line.
                Improving customer interface:
                • FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment by installing PA systems in trains.
                • GPS based digital displays inside coaches to provide real time information regarding upcoming halts.
                • Wireless enabled “Rakshak” devices to intimate gangmen about approaching train.
                • Drones to be used for remote monitoring of ongoing projects.
                • 2,500 water vending machines at railway stations have been provided.
                Swachh Rail:
                • Clean my Coach Service – A passenger can request cleaning of his/her coach/toilets on demand through SMS.
                • Installation of additional 30,000 bio-toilets in the next financial year.
                IRCTC services & food availability:
                • IRCTC will extending e-catering services from existing 45 large stations to all 408 ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ class stations.
                • Local cuisine of choice will be made available to passengers.
                • Railwats will look at pilot availability of children’s menu items on trains.
                • Baby foodshot milk and hot water would be made available on stations andchanging boards for babies would be provided in train toilets.
                Rail Mitra Sewa & Accessible India:
                • Expanding of Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway to help the old and disabled passengers requiring assistance at stations.
                • To provide at least one Divyang friendly toilet at each platform in A1 class stations.
                • To ensure availability of wheelchairs in sufficient numbers at A1 class stations.
                • Battery operated cars and paid porters services for specially able people.

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