When the Earth isn’t enough 🌏


What is it? The number of H-1B visa applications filed by employers between October 2016 and June 2017.

Why is it important? The number of applications has not declined despite US President Donald Trump pledging to crackdown on misuse of H-1B visas, a temporary work permit. At this rate, the full year applications will exceed that of 2016 number of 399,349. However, approvals for current fiscal is sharply lower at 59% as compared to 87% in 2016. This could be because large number of petitions in current year are still pending decisions.

Tell me more: 74% of applications are filed for candidates born in India.



What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in July, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This is the lowest since February 2009, the days of the global financial crisis. It slipped below the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction for the first time this year. Uncertainty and information gaps around goods and services tax that was introduced on July 1st seems to have negatively impacted purchasing decisions.

Tell me more: New orders fell for the first time in the year-to-date and at the fastest pace since early 2009.



What is it? The number of months in which this year’s Earth Overshoot Day has arrived (August 2) this year, according to environmental groups WWF and Global Footprint Network.

Why is it important? Earth Overshoot Day is the date in which the annual demand of humanity on nature exceeds what the planet can regenerate over the year and it is the earliest so far. In other words, humanity is using up planetary resources such as soil, water and air at a faster pace than ever and will live on “credit” for the rest of the year; currently, we are using the resources of 1.7 Earths.

Tell me more: We would be able to return to living within the means of one Earth before 2050 if we moved the Earth Overshoot Day back by 4.5 days every year. Some of the ways in which individuals can help stop and later, reverse the trend is by burning less fuel, cut back on food waste and eating less meat.



What is it? The percentage increase in car sales for Maruti Suzuki, which has more than 50% market share, in July this year.

Why is it important? Car sales has picked up after introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1st, after contracting by 11% in June. Other car makers, except Hyundai Motor, reported double-digit increase in sales growth.

Tell me more: Shipping of cars from factory gate to dealers is counted as a sale, so the increase could be because of manufacturers pushing the stock to dealers than end-customer demand.



What is it? The increase in the net worth of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, in one year.

Why is it important? With a total net worth of $35.2 billion, he has raced ahead of Hong Kong-based Li Ka-Shing to become the second richest Asian after Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma. Globally, Ambani went up to the 19th position, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This has been possible partly due to investors rallying behind Reliance Jio that has disrupted the telecom space in the last few months.

Tell me more: A report by Oxfam, which works to eliminate poverty, said India’s 57 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom 70% of the population, pointing to rising income and wealth inequality in the Asia’s third largest economy.

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News in Numbers, Jan 6, 2017: Where do you live?


What is it? The higher probability of developing dementia if you live 50 meters from high traffic roads, compared to those living 300 meters, according to a study.

Why is it important? The study indicates that air pollutants that can enter the brain through the bloodstream can cause neurological problems. The risk of developing dementia was down to 4% if people lived 50-100 metres from a heavy-traffic area and 2% if they lived within 101-200 metres. Researchers also suggest that 11% of people with dementia living within 50 metres of a major road could be due to traffic. Globally, about 47.5 million people are estimated to have dementia while in India, there are about 4.1 million people with dementia.

Tell me more: The study by researchers in Canada studied records of over 6.5 million Ontario residents aged 20 to 85, recorded 243,611 cases of dementia between 2001 and 2012 and mapped their residents from major roads using postal codes.



What is it? The minimum salary of a H-1B visa holder, according to a bill backing key changes in the H1-B visa programme that has been re-introduced in the US Congress by two lawmakers.

Why is it important? By increasing the wage limit in line with the average American salary, the bill seeks to remove the profit incentive, reduce misuse of the H-1B provision to hire cheap labour from other countries and ensure that workers from abroad are outsourced only when companies find it tough to find talent from among the existing workforce. President-elect Donald Trump, who has been vocal about protecting local jobs, has listed immigration reform among five executive actions he intends to carry out on his first day in office.

Tell me more: Indians have been the highest recipients of the H-1B visas in FY13 and FY14, which allows them to work full-time for at least six years in the US. Besides increasing the minimum salary, the bill also looks to eliminate the Master’s degree exemption.



What is it? The number of arrests made by the Bengaluru police in a molestation case where a woman was groped and assaulted by two men in a residential area (Kammanahalli) in the city in the early hours of January 1.

Why is it important? The CCTV footage came to light after the victim’s neighbour handed over the video to the police even as reports of multiple incidents of sexual attacks on women at MG Road and Brigade Road (two popular shopping hubs in the city) on New Year’s eve had sparked outrage and renewed the debate on women’s safety. Though the viral video footage of the Kammanahalli has prompted quick action in the case, data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that just one of every 100 sexual assault cases in Karnataka ended in conviction in 2015.

Tell me more: Of the four arrested, two of them work as delivery boys, one with a courier company while the other is a student. The men had been stalking the victim for a few days and had been waiting for her near her place of residence on the first day of the year.


Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? The amount Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has sought from the Finance Ministry to decongest city roads.

Why is it important? Urban congestion, heavy traffic and vehicles moving at a snail’s pace is an everyday affair in India’s metros, which is also becoming the case in tier-II cities. According to Numbeo, a website that collects global statistics of different cities, Kolkata (rank 1), Mumbai (2), Delhi (13), Bengaluru (21) and Pune (23) figure among the top 25 cities in its Traffic Index 2016 Mid-Year (of 160 cities listed), indicating worst traffic conditions. For instance, the average time needed for one to reach their destination in Kolkata is 71.05 minutes while in Mumbai, it is 65.45 minutes.

Tell me more: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has approved 102 projects worth Rs 11,000 crore to deal with traffic jams and road accidents so far.



What is it? The percentage by which the price of Bitcoin fell in six hours (from about $1,150 at 2 am ET to $887 around 8 am) on Thursday.

Why is it important? The slide comes after the digital currency hit a three-year high on Wednesday and fell short of its all-time record prices on some exchanges, indicating increased volatility. The fall was so quick that at one time, it lost over $3 billion in market value in 40 minutes. This seems to be due to the strengthening of Chinese yuan against the dollar, given that most of the bitcoin trading takes place in China (three of the largest exchanges are located in China).

Tell me more: Bitcoin, the world’s largest and oldest of cryptocurrencies, was created by an unknown person in 2009. It can be used to make transactions without the need for bankers or other intermediaries and is used as an anonymous way of moving money across the world.

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