Current Affairs Current Affairs - 28 July 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 28 July 2018

General Affairs 

Digital Revolution Opens New doors For Emerging Economies: PM Modi
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the digital revolution has offered new opportunities to the members of the BRICS grouping and other emerging economies and it is essential to invest in artificial intelligence and big data analytics to reap the benefits.

    Addressing the BRICS Outreach Session here, PM Modi called for more investment in the digital infrastructure and skill development in the area of digitisation.

    "Today we are once again at the historic turning point. Thanks to digital revolution, new opportunities are emerging for us and that is the reason why it is necessary that we be completely ready for the changes that will come out through AI and big data analytics," he said.

    Emphasising on India's historic and deep links with Africa, the prime minister said his government has accorded the highest priority towards maintaining peace, freedom and development in Africa.

    India's ties with Africa are time-tested and the Government of India has deepened its engagement with the continent he said.

    "Economic and development cooperation between India and Africa have touched new heights," PM Modi said at the meeting, also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Michel Temer.

    The prime minister said in the last four years, more the 100 bilateral talks and visits at the level of head of states and government have taken place which has taken bilateral cooperation and economic ties to a new level.

    He said 118 lines of credit worth USD 11 billion have been extended to over 40 African countries.

    He said that India welcomes the effort for regional economic integration by the countries in Africa.

    He said free trade and commerce in the last three decades has helped hundreds of millions people come out of poverty.

    To take the benefits of globalisation to them is the most important task, he said.

    Highlighting the challenges of globalisation, he said that inclusive development must remain at the core of all efforts.

    He said after the financial crisis of 2008, the threats of protectionism are hovering over this fundamental aspect of the globalisation.

    "The most profound effect of decrease in growth rate has been felt by countries such us ours who could not gain from the industrial progress made during the colonial time," the prime minister said.

    He said India will continue to share its experiences and learning under the South-South co-operation.

    He said that while addressing Uganda's Parliament this week he had outlined the 10 principles for India's engagement with African nations.

    This 10 principles, he said, formulated as per the needs of Africa are the guidelines for the development and strengthening of India's ties with the continent.

    He also noted that African students come to India to study and also receive Indian scholarships.

Government Deceiving Country, Violated Rules In Rafale Deal: Congress
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    The Congress today accused the government of "deceiving" the country and promoting crony capitalism in awarding a private entity the contract for the multi-crore Rafale aircraft deal, which it described as the "mother of all deals".

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi must give answers to the nation, the party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

    The Congress will demand in Parliament that the prime minister speaks on the Rafale deal during the current Monsoon session, he added.

    "The culture of crony capitalism is the DNA of the Modi government. It is truer than ever in case of the Rs. 60,145 crore  Rafale deal," he told reporters.

    "The art of deceiving India is the Modi government's mantra in this mother of all defence deals. Intrigue, conspiracy, deception and loss to public exchequer have marred the unilateral purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts by the government," the Congress leader added.

    He alleged that the defence offset contract went to a private company, Reliance Defence, which had zero experience of manufacturing fighter aircrafts.

    He also alleged that Reliance Defence was formed 12 days before the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts by the prime minister in France on April 10, 2015 and did not have the licence to manufacture fighter jets.

    Reliance Aerostructure was given the licence to manufacture fighter aircrafts by the Defence Ministry but it did not own any land or building on the date of the licence on February 22, 2016, Mr Surjewala added.

    Reliance Aerostructure was incorporated on April 24, 2015, 14 days after the announcement of purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts, he said.

    According to the Congress leader, guidelines on defence contracts were violated. The Defence Ministry has to give its permission whenever a defence offset contract is signed, he said.

    He also cited the rule that a contract should be audited by the Defence Ministry.

    "All these rules were violated," Mr Surjewala said, adding that there was no approval for the defence offset contract to Reliance Defence from Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. "This is in complete violation of guidelines."

    "Why are Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Sitharaman lying on the issue," he asked.

    The Congress leader demanded that the prime minister and the defence minister answer questions raised by people of the country on the deal.

PM Modi, Xi Jinping Agree To Maintain Momentum In Improving Ties
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed that the Chinese defence minister will visit India next month as part of the efforts to maintain the "momentum" generated by their recent meetings.

    PM Modi, who is in South Africa to attend the BRICS Summit, met Xi for the third time in nearly three months on Thursday, after their two-day informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late April and a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Qingdao, China in June.

    "It is important to maintain this momentum and for this we should, at our level, regularly review our relationship and give proper instructions whenever required," PM Modi told Xi in his opening remarks.

    He told the Chinese leader that their recent meetings have given a new strength to bilateral ties and also provided new opportunities for cooperation.

    President Xi said that the Chinese side is ready to work with the Indian side to carry forward the fresh impetus of bilateral relations since their informal meeting in Wuhan, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

    He called on the two sides to strengthen strategic communication, increase mutual trust, promote practical cooperation, as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges, strengthen dialogue and properly manage differences, it said.

    At Wuhan, PM Modi and Xi had decided to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communications to build trust and understanding, a move aimed at avoiding a Doklam-like situation in the future.

    PM Modi said the Johannesburg meeting has provided one more opportunity to them to strengthen their closer developmental partnership.

    Briefing the reporters about the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the two leaders reaffirmed their readiness to give the necessary direction to their militaries to enhance communication between them and to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.

    "They were satisfied with the efforts being made by the officials of the two sides to strengthen bilateral engagements and to implement some of the understandings and decisions that the two leaders had reached at Wuhan," he said.

    Prime Minister Modi also expressed his willingness to send National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to China this year for the Special Representative-level boundary talks, he said.

    Mr Gokhale said the two sides had agreed at Qingdao that the Chinese ministers for defence and public security would travel to India this year.

    "It was decided that these two visits would take place in August and October, respectively," the foreign secretary added.

    In Beijing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang confirmed that State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe "plans to pay a friendly official visit to India" at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman.

    "We have provided a top-level design for bilateral ties in a macroscopic perspective and a timely fashion, which is conducive to mobilising the positive elements of all sectors in both countries and uniting the wills of the 2.6 billion people of the two countries, so as to form a force that would push bilateral ties into the future," Xi told PM Modi.

    Mr Gokhale said both the leaders also remarked that in the last few months mutual trust has increased between the two sides.

    President Xi once again conveyed to Prime Minister Modi that he is very happy to accept his invitation to visit India for an informal summit, the second one, next year and both sides also agreed to follow up on a number of issues, the foreign secretary added.

    They also agreed that the high-level people-to-people mechanism which would be established between the two sides will also meet this year, he said.

    One of the important issues which Prime Minister Modi raised with President Xi at his previous meetings is of how the two sides can enhance Indian exports to China particularly agricultural exports.

    "It has been decided that an Indian trade delegation will be travelling to China on August 1 and 2. Among the issues they will discuss are exports of soya, sugar and non-basmati rice and they will also look at the possible import of urea from China," he said.

    Prime Minister Modi also mentioned about the pharma sector and cited a Chinese movie titled 'Dying to Survive' which is based loosely on the role that the Indian cancer drugs play in saving the life of the main character of the movie, Mr Gokhale said, adding that it was decided that an Indian pharmaceutical delegation will visit Shanghai, China on August 21 and 22 for talks.

    Xi said that as major emerging market economies, as well as vindicators and contributors of the current international order, China and India should strengthen bilateral cooperation, while exploring a new model for regional cooperation, upholding multilateralism, championing economic globalization and striving for a more just and rational international order, Xinhua reported.

    President Xi and Prime Minister Modi will meet again at the margins of the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of this year.

Can't Protect Users' Data Alone: Facebook
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    Facing an intense public scrutiny over data leaks amid privacy concerns, Facebook has now called for the entire tech industry to come and protect people's data.

    According to David Baser, Director of Product Management at Facebook, nearly every day, news comes out from a different company about personal data that got into the wrong hands.

    "Even if we're all taking steps to shore up our privacy protections, we won't find the answers in a silo. Companies are connected and our technology ecosystem can't be reversed.

    "So we need to work together on standards and best practices to make data portability a reality while also prioritizing people's privacy and security," Baser said in a blog post late on Thursday.

    Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter last week announced that they will join the open source initiative called Data Transfer Project (DTP).

    In the early stages at the moment, the Data Transfer Project will help users of one service to use their data to sign up for another service with encryption.

    According to Facebook, some of the world's most popular apps have been built on its platform and the flow of information has the potential for abuse.

    "Bad actors can gather information from people and use it in ways that they aren't aware of and didn't agree too, like selling personal data to marketers.

    "Facebook has clear policies against this, but as we saw with the Cambridge Analytica situation, bad actors are more than willing to ignore these policies in pursuit of their own objectives," Baser said.

    Some argue that the best response to Cambridge Analytica would be to lock Facebook down completely so apps can't get access to this kind of information but according to Facebook, limiting people's ability to share information would erase the conveniences they enjoy.

    "We need to find the right balance, giving people control over data sharing and preventing abuse without hampering people's experiences or hindering innovation," said Baser.

    Facing global backlash over data scandals, Facebook stock nosedived 20 per cent -- wiping over $120 billion off the company's market value in a single day -- after its revenue and user growth in the second quarter of 2018 fell short of investor expectations.

    The social media giant reported 2.23 billion monthly active users -- an increase of 11 per cent (year-over-year) which was its slowest growth in more than two years.

PM Modi, South African President Discuss Ways To Boost Bilateral Ties
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the two leaders discussed ways to expand the bilateral ties in a number of sectors, including trade and investment, IT and defence.

    Following the delegation-level talks between PM Modi and President Ramaphosa, three MoUs were signed on cooperation in exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, setting up of Gandhi-Mandela Centre of specialisation for artisan skills and agricultural research and education.

    PM Modi, who arrived in Johannesburg yesterday, met President Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the two-day BRICS summit whose theme this year is 'BRICS in Africa'.

    "Kicking off a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of BRICS! PM Narendra Modi meets the host South African President Cyril Ramaphosa," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

    Kicking off a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of #BRICS! PM @narendramodi meets the host South African President @CyrilRamaphosa. Celebrating 21 years of strategic partnership, India & South Africa are proud inheritors of legacies of Mahatma Gandhi & Nelson Mandela. pic.twitter.com/LQo8EGrKb4

    - Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) July 26, 2018

    "Saluting the enduring legacy of Mahatma and Mandela! Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa jointly released a stamp commemorating the two iconic personalities," he tweeted.

    Saluting the enduring legacy of Mahatma and Mandela! PM @narendramodi and South African President @CyrilRamaphosa jointly released a stamp commemorating the two iconic personalities. pic.twitter.com/bYbHUEKwXO

    - Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) July 26, 2018

    India and South Africa are celebrating 21 years of strategic partnership.

    "India and South Africa are proud inheritors of legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela," Mr Kumar said.

    "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed expansion of our relationship in trade and investment, agriculture and food processing, IT, defence and people-to-people contacts," he said.

    Later, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said both the nations expressed satisfaction at the growth in trade and investment, besides improvement in the people-to-people relation.

    "President Ramaphosa actually said India-South Africa relations may be new in terms of re-establishment of diplomatic relations but are in fact very deep-rooted in history. Now what it requires is nurturing, it needs to be watered time to time and such meetings help in that process," he said.

    Mr Gokhale said Prime Minister Modi entirely agreed with the South African leader on this, and noted a "very positive" trend on investments and trade.

    The Prime Minister said Indian companies would respond positively to investing in South Africa, as he welcomed the Indo-South African business summit, held in April, for which the Commerce and Industries minister had come to Johannesburg.

    Prime Minister Modi also took up the issue of Indian business persons facing some obstacles in terms of general work permits and inter-company transfer permits in South Africa.

    "These are long standing issues that the prime minister took up," Mr Gokhale said, adding that the South African President has assured he would look into the matter.

    The Prime Minister, he said, informed Mr Ramaphosa that India has already liberalised the visa regime "very greatly" for South Africans.

    On trade, PM Modi said among the areas which the South African companies should be exploring in India were defence food processing and health insurance, according to Mr Gokhale.

    During the "very productive, very good and very warm" meeting, PM Modi also mentioned about the visit of the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Tarini with an all-female crew to South Africa.

    "The President of South Africa in fact remarked that this (INS Tarini visit) had got very good publicity in the South African press and was seen as a sign of gender empowerment, women empowerment," the Foreign Secretary said.

    BRICS is a grouping of five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC", before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

    India's relations with South Africa date back several centuries. India was at the forefront of the international community in its support to the anti-apartheid movement.

    This year also marks 25 years since the resumption of India's diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1993. This year also marks the 125th year of the Pietermaritzburg railway station 'incident' involving Gandhi.

    "2018 is a historical year for our relations, as it marks the commemoration of twenty-five years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and India," the South African Presidency tweeted.

    2018 is a historical year for our relations, as it marks the commemoration of twenty-five years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and India. #SAIndia#BRICS2018pic.twitter.com/7jU8AWJlhR

    - PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) July 26, 2018

    The South African Indian-origin community numbers around 1.5 million and constitutes about three per cent of South Africa's total population.

Business Affairs

Reliance Industries' Q1 net profit rises to Rs 9,459 crore, beats industry estimates
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    Reliance Industries Limited posted consolidated net profit of Rs 9,459 crore -- up 17.9 per cent from the previous quarter last year -- in its Q1 financial results announced on Friday. The company's consolidated revenue stood at Rs 141,699 crore, which rose 9.7 per cent sequentially and 56.5 per cent from the previous quarter last year.

    The increase in revenue is primarily on account of higher sales from refining and petrochemical products. Consumer businesses also provided a further boost to the overall revenue. Operating profit before other income and depreciation increased 64.6 per cent to Rs 20,661 crore on the back of 33 per cent volume growth and significant margin improvement in petrochemical business. RIL's operating profit was Rs 12,554 crore in the same period last year. Basic earnings per share (EPS) for Q1 was Rs 16 against Rs 13.5 in the corresponding period last year.

    "We continue to focus on strong delivery through operational excellence in our portfolio of businesses. Financial results of 1Q FY19 underscore the strength of the petrochemicals we have reinforced over the last investment cycle. Our petrochemicals business generated record EBITDA with strong volumes and an upswing in polyester chain margins. Refining business performance remained steady despite the seasonal weakness in cracks," said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries. 

    Earlier, analysts had estimated the oil-to-telecom conglomerate to post consolidated net sales of Rs 1,02,690 lakh crore for Q1, a Bloomberg poll said. Another poll, reported by Mint, suggested the company would make around Rs 9,554 crore net profit. However, the company was able to beat the industry estimates.

    Petrochemicals segment's EBIT -- which represents the approximate amount of operating income generated -- was recorded at Rs 7,857 crore, which was supported by strong Y-o-Y volume growth, improvement across polyester chain margins and stable polymer margins. The oil and gas segment's EBIT (Rs 447 crore Y-o-Y) was impacted by lower volumes due to natural decline.

    The company's gross refining margin (GRM), which is crucial for oil refiners, for the quarter stood at $10.5/bbl. GRM was expected to fall in the range of $10-11 per barrel due to the Singapore benchmark, which averaged around 6 per cent low to $6 per barrel. The company had reported GRM of $11 per barrel in the last quarter of the FY18.

    The Customer centric businesses, Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio Infocomm, also performed well. Reliance Retail recorded a sharp 124 per cent increase in revenue to Rs 25,890 crore and digital services business contributed Rs 9,653 crore for the quarter. Network18 Media and Investments Limited reported the revenue of Rs 1,124 crore, registering 36.2 per cent rise sequentially.

ICICI Bank posts loss of Rs 120 crore in Q1; net profit drops to Rs 4.93 cr
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    ICICI Bank on Friday reported a loss of Rs 119.5 crore on standalone basis for the June quarter, on account of rise in bad loans. The bank's net profit in the year-ago period stood at Rs 2,049 crore. Total income was Rs 18,574.17 crore as against Rs 16,847.04 crore in April-June, 2017-18, the bank said in a statement.

    Net profit on consolidated basis for the June quarter was a meagre Rs 4.93 crore, compared to Rs 2,604.73 crore a year ago. There was a deterioration in bank's asset quality, with gross non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans widening to 8.81 per cent of the gross advances as on June 30, 2018, compared to 7.99 per cent by June last year. There was a significant jump in provisioning and contingencies at Rs 5,971.29 crore for the reported quarter as against Rs 2,608.74 crore earlier.

ITC stock hits fresh 52-week high on Q1 earnings, surpasses HUL in market capitalisation
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    ITC on Friday surpassed FMCG major Hindustan Unilever in market capitalisation in morning trade, to become the fourth-largest company on BSE. The ITC stock rose up to 6.92 per cent to touch a high of Rs 307 on the BSE. Following the spike in the counter, the market capitalisation of the company stood at Rs 3,69,564.63 crore.

    Q1 earnings of the firm took the stock to fresh 52-week high level of 307 level in trade today. ITC on Thursday reported a 10% rise in standalone net profit at Rs 2,818.68 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2018, aided by lower expenses, good growth in agri-business and other FMCG business despite decline in cigarettes sales.

    The ITC stock closed 5.24% or 15 points higher at 302.20.  Its m-cap stood at Rs 3,69,259.15 crore.

    Meanwhile, shares of HUL closed in the negative and slumped 0.64% to a low of Rs 1657.55. The market cap of the company stood at Rs 3,58,798.88 crore.

    Following the uptick in the counter, ITC became the fourth largest company on BSE.

    The top ten firms were led by TCS, followed by RIL, HDFC Bank, ITC, HUL, HDFC, Infosys, Maruti, Kotak, Mahindra Bank and SBI.

    The stock of ITC is on rise for the seventh consecutive session and has surged 14.42 per cent since July 18.

    The stock opened with a gain of 4.48% in trade today.

    It has risen 14.86% since the beginning of this year and 4.69% during the last one year.

    29 of 35 brokerages rate the stock "buy" or 'outperform', five "hold" and 1 "underperform", according to Reuters.

    According to market experts, the uptick in the ITC counter was largely owing to the strong first quarter results. Besides, the bullish trend in the broader market helped investor sentiment.

Sensex scales 37,000 for the first time; Nifty at lifetime high of 11,172
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    The Sensex and Nifty continued their record run for the fifth continous day and hit fresh all-time highs backed by metal and fast moving consumer goods stocks in early trade today. Q1 earnings of India Inc buoyed investor sentiment on the Dalal Street.

    While the Sensex touched an intra day high of 37,327, Nifty hit a fresh record of 11,253 level.

    At 10:24 am, the Sensex was trading 320 points higher at 37, 305 level and the Nifty stood at 11,247, up 80 points.

    The BSE metal index rose to a record level of 12,497 points, up 219 points. Hindalco was the top metal index gainer rising up to 4.62% at 216.10 level after Birla group flagship Hindalco announced acquisition of American aluminium maker Aleris in  a $2.58-billion leveraged deal through its overseas subsidiary Novelis that will help it diversify product offerings in the value-added products segment.

    The BSE FMCG index too touched a new high of 11,091 level rising 245 level intra day.

    VK Sharma, head, PCG and capital market strategy at HDFC Securities said, "The markets are at an all-time high because something very basic has happened in the last one week. The no-confidence motion moved against the government was defeated by a wider margin than expected. This has in one stroke killed the fears regarding the 2019 elections. The rest is the work of the short covering. We believe the markets are likely to improve to 11,400 before consolidation sets in."

    Cigarette-to-soap maker ITC was the top Sensex gainer rising over 3% to a fresh 52-week high of 301.80 after the FMCG firm reported a 10.08 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in net profit at Rs 2,819 crore for the first quarter in FY19.

    Other Sensex gainers were Kotak Mahindra Bank (1.13%) and Hero MotoCorp (1.07%).

    Top Sensex losers were YES Bank (1.50%), Adani Ports (0.86%) and ONGC (0.77%).

    Banking stocks continued their rally for the second day with the BSE Bankex rising 207 points to 30,633 level. PNB (2.29%), ICICI Bank (1.78%) and Kotak Mahindra Bank (1.10%) were the top gainers on the index.

    Bank Nifty too was up 172 points or 0.63% to 27,582 level.

    Interestingly, FIIs poured in Rs 2,453 crore into equities in trade yesterday. Domestic institutional investors (DIIs) who have been credited with supporting the market for long withdrew Rs 2,716 crore from the Indian market.

    The Biocon stock rose up to 8.5% or nearly 50 points to 606 level after the pharma firm reported a 47 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 120 crore for the quarter ended June 2018. The growth was led by strong performance of biologics and research services segments.

    The Maruti Suzuki stock was trading 0.49% or 45 points lower at 9,351 level on the BSE.

    The stock closed 3.70% or 361 points lower to 9396 level yesterday. 

    The auto maker reported a 26.91 per cent rise in standalone net profit to Rs 1,975.3 crore for the quarter ended June 30, up from Rs 1,556.4 crore in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

    Ironically, the country's largest carmaker posted its highest profit growth in 18 months in the quarter under review yesterday.

    Net profit came below analysts' estimates and proved to be a drag on the stock.

    The company's sales during the period under review stood at Rs 21,810.7 crore. They were at Rs 19,374.1 crore in the year-ago period.

    Meanwhile, the Bharti Airtel stock was trading higher in early trade after the telco posted a sequential rise of 17.37 per cent in its profit attributed to owners, which rose to Rs 97.3 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2018. In the previous quarter, net profit stood at Rs 82.9 crore. The stock rose up to 4.48% to 373.5 level on the BSE .

    Sensex heavyweight Reliance Industries was trading 1.45% or 16 points higher at 1126 level ahead of its Q1 earnings to be announced after market hours today.

    Market breadth was positive with 993 stocks rising compared to 402 falling on the BSE. 56 stocks were unchanged.

    Global markets

    Overseas, Asian stocks edged higher following a series of steps by China shifting to stimulus mode. Japan's Nikkei quoted 0.28 per cent higher, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.03 per cent in the early trade.

    However, China's Shanghai composite index shed 0.06 per cent.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.44 per cent higher yesterday. 

Shatabdi trains to get new coaches with automatic doors, modular toilets
  • Current Affairs - 28 July 2018
    Come September, Indian Railways will roll out its first self-propelled, semi-high speed, engine-less train, code-named "Train 18" (named after the year in which it is being manufactured). Built under 'Make in India', at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, the train is expected to reach a top speed of 160 km per hour. IFC will manufacture six trains in total, two of which will house sleeper coaches.  

    In an interview with the Financial Express, Sudhanshu Mani, General Manager of ICF, said that the train is being designed by ICF with the help of consultants without any technology transfer. Earlier, the vendors who supplied items for the train were heavily depended on ready-made designs. Now, they have developed individual design capabilities.

    Once rolled out, the train will be handed over to the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), which is a technical adviser to the Indian Railways.  RDSO will conduct testing and give its validation to the train. Each coach of Train 18 is expected to cost around Rs 6 crore, which is 40 per cent less than the cost of such trains globally. Efforts would be made, in the near future, to further reduce this amount to Rs 5 crore.

    Train 18 will be propelled through electric traction, similar to metro and local trains, and thus the need for a traditional engine will be dispensed. It will have 16 fully air-conditioned chair car coaches, 2 of which will be of executive-class. It is set to replace the existing Shatabdi Express for inter-city travel. However, the route on which the train will ply has not been finalized yet. It will encompass premium features like:

    Automatic doors with retractable footsteps
    Onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment
    GPS-based passenger information system
    Modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems
    AC coaches
    Rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel, available only in the executive class
    Roller blinds and diffused LED lighting
    Accessible toilet for people with disability.
    Also Read: Indian Railways sees worst punctuality performance in three years; 30% trains run late in 2017-18

    Mani further indicated that the concept of a distributed power train set for Mainline Express services is completely new for the Indian Railways. "Even though such trains are used in EMUs for local Trains - using it on Mainline express is altogether a different ball game," he added. For the adoption of such a new concept, the traction system and power required for air conditioning and train lighting have to be modularized and distributed across the train set. Features such as fully sealed gangways with exterior fairings between the coaches, automatic sliding footsteps, and aero-dynamic front-end will also be introduced for the first time.

    Upon successful implementation of Train 18, IFC will start working on "Train 20" which will have an all aluminum body. Aluminum will make the train more aesthetic, lightweight, energy efficient, and durable.

General Awareness

    BRICS 2018 Summit
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: What is BRICS, 2018 summit- place of event and theme, previous summits.
      For Mains: Significance of BRICS nations.
      Context: The 2018 BRICS summit, the tenth such annual summit, is being held in South Africa.

      Theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

      The theme is intended to align and ensure strategic continuity with the approved themes for South Africa’s Chairship of both the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

      The new areas of BRICS cooperation as proposed by South Africa, are as follows:

      Establishment of a Working Group on Peacekeeping.
      Establishment of a Vaccine Research Centre for Collaboration with BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners – this is intended to be a physical research centre focused on research and development and vaccine innovation.

      Establishment of a BRICS Gender and Women’s Forum – intended as a dedicated track for gender and women’s issues, given the economic benefit to be derived from the socio-economic empowerment of women, particularly in developing countries.
      Establishment of a BRICS Tourism Track of Cooperation.

      What is BRICS?

      BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

      Summits: The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually with discussions representing spheres of political and socio-economic coordination, in which member countries have identified several business opportunities, economic complementarities and areas of cooperation.

      Chairship: The Chairship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S. Over and above the summit, BRICS cooperation in the past decade has expanded to include an annual programme of over 100 sectoral meetings. Cooperation among members is predicated on three levels or “tracks” of interaction, namely:

      Track I: Formal diplomatic engagement between the national governments.
      Track II: Engagement through government-affiliated institutions, e.g. state-owned enterprises and business councils.
      Track III: Civil society and “people-to-people” engagement.

      Facts for Prelims:

      The First BRIC Summit was held in June 2009 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

      The Ninth BRICS Summit was held in Xiamen, China under the theme “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future”. The leaders built on achievements already made with a share vision for future development of BRICS, discussed international and regional issues of common concern and adopted the Xiamen Declaration.

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