An Impending ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’


What is it? The estimated number of people that have fled their homes in south-western Syria since the military launched an assault on the rebel-held areas a few weeks ago.

Why is it important? This figure has grown by more than five times from an estimated 50,000 six days ago. Last week, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights had asked all sides to end the escalating conflict in Daraa or it could result in a humanitarian catastrophe. Those fears are now compounded as the refugees have taken shelter near the Israeli and Jordanian borders and both the countries have refused to allow them in.

Tell me more: The Syrian government, under President Bashar al-Assad, has regained control of the country’s biggest cities but large parts are still under control of rebel groups and the Kurdish-led SDF alliance. A peaceful uprising against Assad’s rule seven years ago blew up into a full civil war and has claimed the lives of over 350,000 people.


What is it? The number of people that could lose their jobs due to US President Donald Trump’s plan to ban spouses of high-skill visa holders from working, according to a study.

Why is it important?A recent study says that as a result, this would result in social isolation of spouses, increase domestic tensions and strain the family’s financial resources. This could affect the visa holder’s satisfaction levels, posing risks to them in continuing their posting in the US. In addition to indirect costs, the cost of expatriate assignments range from $250,000 to $1 million.

Tell me more:The Trump administration is planning to reverse the 2015 rule that permits spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US. The US has issued employment authorisation documents to over 71,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders, of which more than 90% are Indians.

Rs 7,900 crore

What is it? The amount Volkswagen said it will invest in India between 2019 and 2021.

Why is it important? The group has set a target of achieving a market share of 5% of the Indian passenger vehicles market by 2025. India leapfrogged Germany recently to become the world’s fourth biggest auto market and is expected to go up to the third position by 2020, according to major automakers.

Tell me more:Under its ‘India 2.0’ project, group firm Skoda Auto is setting up an engineering design and development centre in Pune, in addition to improving capacities at its two plants, which is expected to create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.


What is it?The number of months it took for transactions under the unified payments interface (UPI) to double to 200 million.

Why is it important?UPI is a payments system launched by the National Payments Corporation of India, the umbrella organisation for retail payments in the country. It facilitates instant fund transfer between two bank accounts on a mobile platform without requiring any detail of the beneficiary’s bank account.In June 2018, the number of UPI transactions stood at 246 million, amounting to Rs 40,834 crore. This is a brisk 30% increase in volume terms and 22% in value terms over May 2018.

Tell me more: UPI was launched in August 2016 with 21 participating banks. As of June 2018, this number had increased to 110 banks.


What is it?The goal deficit that Belgium clawed back from to win their round of 16 match against unfancied Japan in the 2018 football world cup on Monday.

Why is it important?With 21 minutes to go for full-time, Belgium trailed Japan by 2 goals in an open match. However, Belgium struck thrice, including Nacer Chadli in the 4thminute of added time in regulation to become the first team since 1970 to come back from two goals down in a world cup knockout match. This is Belgium’s second appearance in the quarter-finals and its best finish was a semi-final appearance in 1986.

Tell me more: In another match played yesterday, Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to enter the quarter-finals.

Read More