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World's Baby No. 7 Billion Could Be Born In Up

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In the midst of all the handwringing over population explosion in the country, the Indian government might miss preparing for a global record-setting event — the birth of the baby that would take the population of planet earth to the seven billion mark.

The momentous birth is projected to happen towards the October or November. But what's that got to do with India? Well, we just happen to be the country with by far the highest number of babies born every minute at 51. That means the probability of Baby 7 Billion being an Indian is higher than for any other nationality. In fact, Uttar Pradesh alone has about 11 babies born every minute a figure that no nation other than China exceeds and Nigeria matches.

Actually, the event may even happen as late as early or mid-2012 depending on which person or organization`s estimates you take as valid. After all, there is no agreement even on when exactly the six billion mark was crossed. While the UN said its calculations showed that the six billion figure was reached on October 12, 1999, the US Census Bureau said it was reached on July 22, 1999. The quibbling over the exact date seems quite pointless considering the fact that 267 babies are estimated to be born every minute in the world, almost a fifth of them in India.

With even the date of the event being in question, clearly deciding on exactly which birth tips the scales is an arbitrary process. How does one decide which out of the 16,000 babies born each hour or 384,000 babies born each day becomes the record-breaking seven billionth baby?

The UN had chosen Adnan Nevic born in Sarajevo, Bosnia on October 12, 1999 as the symbolic six billionth baby. UN officials insisted that there was no special significance in the choice of Sarajevo. Similarly, Matej Gaspar born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia on July 11, 1987 was designated the five billionth baby.

If it's as random as that, don't bet on a UP-ite or indeed an Indian baby being conferred the title this time round. The depressing news, of course, is if the baby is born in UP, the chances of he or she celebrating a fifth birthday will be slim as the state has the dubious distinction of having the highest under-five mortality in the country - 96.4 per 1,000 much higher than the national figure of 74.3 per 1000.

Whichever baby gets chosen as the symbolic seven billionth, the concern is about the kind of world that awaits these children. As the date to cross the next billion draws closer, there is panic about whether there will be enough food, water and energy for the billions being added too quickly and whether the earth can support them. Between now and 2050, virtually all population growth will take place in the Low Development Countries. This paints a grim picture of the future of the millions who will be born in some of the poorest families in the world.

After taking about 250,000 years to reach the first billion sometime around 1800, humanity has been increasing its pace of growth rapidly. In just 127 years, the human population crossed the next billion in 1927 and then accelerated further, reaching the next billion within 33 years in 1960. It then raced to touch four billion in 1974. Since then, the pace has not been increasing as fast, as it touched five billion 13 years later in 1987 and six billion 12 years later in 1999. Now, another 12 years later, it is expected to touch seven billion.

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