'Mother India' delivers 'Nargis', or does she?

It was sometime in June-July this year (during my internship) when the first news of the seven-billionth baby being born in India flashed on news channels. The baby who would be taking the world’s population to a total of seven billions was going to be born in Uttar Pradesh sometime in October 2011- that’s what the news said. Well, I wondered, how could anyone be so precise?

India sees the birth of 51 babies every minute- a rate which no other country matches, not even China. According to this, I guess there must be at least a 100 births taking place every minute in the whole world. Surely there is no system that records the birth of each and every child on the earth as soon as the child is born! How then the news channels were so sure that the 7-billionth Baby would be most likely born in UP (as it is the most populated state of the country)?

When I pass over the AIIMS flyover, I always take a glimpse at the counter which counts the population of India 24x7. (Any idea how that works?) Do the births actually get registered immediately and with such a constant frequency that the counter seems to be increasing at a constant pace for as long as you can see it?

Today the newspapers had a variety of front page leads, the most prominent news item being the birth of a baby girl, Nargis, in Lucknow, who was now the 7-billionth citizen of the world. My copy of The Hindu had been slid under the door and as I opened my eyes lying on the bed, I saw the headline distinctly:

We are seven billion now

I picked up the paper and saw that it was a five-column story with a large picture. Beside it was a two-column story with the picture of a baby girl (Nargis) headlined:

Birth of Nargis raises hopes &; fears for nation’s future

Well, seven out of eight columns and almost two-third of the front page being dedicated to just one thing: Nargis! Wow! This was surely big news! I went through both the stories quickly and was awed when I saw the last lines that gave the links to other related stories inside the paper:

Editorial: Seven billion and counting
Cheers fears across world: International Page
The population story in pictures: Back Page

This was BIG!! A serious newspaper like the Hindu was focussing so much on one story! This was really BIG!

Well, I wondered again: How do you know that this is the 7 billionth baby?

Later in the day I came across other newspapers. Hindustan Times had the Nargis tale as its anchor story (supposedly the softest and the least impact story of the front page) with the headline:

Nargis is India’s 7 billion symbol, or is she?

The headline intrigued me to read further. It said even demographers had no idea if the population of the world had reached the 7-billion mark but the UN had decided to celebrate 31st October 2011 as the day for the birth of the 7-billionth citizen of the world and so the world was celebrating. Well, that made a little sense. But then, my question still remained unanswered: How do you know that Nargis is the 7 billionth baby?

The Times of India surprised me. It just had a brief on the first page with a link to the Nation page for the full-story.

For the record: UP’s Nargis is world’s 7 billionth citizen

Surely HT and TOI didn’t consider this story as important as The Hindu thought it was!

Even if we accept what the UN said, how can we accept that it was Nargis and not some other child that became the 7-billion mark setter? Is it just because of a huge and powerful media in the country that is influencing the people to accept it? Do let me know what you feel.

Before I bid adieu till the next entry, take care and take care of the now 7-billion+ population of the world. I wonder till how long now, the earth would be able to take care of the mounting pressure! And lastly, Nargis! Grow up, realize your worth, and make India proud! :)


  1. This is absolutely preposterous and disgusting. A powerful media is trying to generate public opinion on a absolute non issue. There is no scientific method developed so far to confirm what the media claims. The media people should concentrate on more serious issues like inflation, corruption etc. and generate public opinion to make agriculture an industry in this country. We are running short of food grains and nobody is worried about it. What are we going to eat in days to come? Computers, electronic gadgets or silicon chips? We are fast developing towards destruction. Will the media ever realise this? Or will it continue to fool people spreading trivial,unrealistic matters like the seven billionth baby? God save this country of fools.


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