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News Podcast: Opposition criticises Centre's decision to decline foreign aid

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State-of-the-art Train 18 to replace Shatabdi Express soon

As part of the Railways' plan to increase the speeds of all long-distance passenger trains by 25 km per hour by 2022, it has decided to replace the Shatabdi Express trains with much-awaited semi-high speed 'Train 18'. These trains will be loaded with state-of-the-art amenities and will be used for inter-city travel. The trains are being built under the Make in India initiative at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai. They are the first self-propelled trains, which will reduce travel time and enhance passenger experience.

PV Sindhu on Forbes' list of top 10 highest-paid female athletes


PV Sindhu who shot to fame with her performance at the Rio Games in Brazil in 2016 has been listed by Forbes as one of the top 10 highest-paid female athletes. Sindhu, with total earnings of $8.5 million is ranked 7th and is the only Indian athlete on the list. According to Forbes, Sindhu earned $500,000 as prize money and the rest $8 million through endorsements. Topping the list with total earnings of $18.1 million is Serena Williams. While Williams went on a 14-month hiatus after announcing that she was expecting, she still remained the highest-paid female athlete. Forbes says that her earnings of $18.1 million remain the best for the third year straight.
 
Air India seeks Rs 500 crore urgently to repay banks


Since the failed disinvestment attempt in May, the Maharajah has been scrambling for cash. The buzz earlier was that Air India had asked for a Rs 30,000 crore fund infusion plan - after the Civil Aviation Ministry reportedly sought Rs 11,000-crore bailout package for the beleaguered airline. But post rejection from the government, at least on the former, the national carrier is now in dire straits and in urgent need of a cash infusion. According to The Economic Times, Air India is on the brink of defaulting on bank loan repayments, so the aviation ministry has sought Rs 500 crore from the finance ministry on an urgent basis.

Opposition criticises Centre's decision to decline foreign aid for Kerala flood  relief


India will not accept relief assistance from foreign governments for the flood-ravaged state of Kerala, the government has said, following offers of aid from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as reported by Reuters. The decision to decline foreign help drew criticism from the opposition which called for an end to the suffering of the people of the southern state hit by the worst flooding in a century. This week, the United Arab Emirates offered assistance of $100 million while Qatar offered $5 million. Many people from Kerala live and work in the Gulf. Kerala's Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said on Twitter the central government should compensate the state for refusing foreign aid.
 
Why petrol and diesel prices can touch an all-time high again


After touching all-time highs in the recent past, petrol and diesel prices can see a further surge as the country braces for a reduction in oil import from Iran. The US sanctions on Iran will have direct impact on petrol and diesel prices in India, which imports around 80 per cent of its oil requirement. Iran is the third largest exporter of crude oil to India after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As the US sanctions against the Gulf country comes into effect on November 4, a supply shortage could spike the crude oil price to as high as $100 a barrel, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report published in May. It's obvious the petrol and diesel prices in India will rise too if this happens.
 
IndiGo again hit by A320neo problems

IndiGo's troubles with its new Airbus A320neo aircraft are continuing, with India's biggest airline grounding an undisclosed number of planes yesterday because of non-availability of spare engines from engine maker Pratt and Whitney, as reported by Mint.
IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, said Pratt and Whitney has initiated the release of additional spare engines and all aircraft are likely to be in service soon. However, the airline did not disclose the number of planes affected.