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Do You Know About India’s Billionth Baby? Know About Aastha Arora

In 2030, India's population is projected to top 1.515 billion, up from 1.417 billion in 2022. We're now home to 8 billion people on the planet, so we were intrigued to examine India's billionth baby.

In a country with two billion people, Aastha Arora's birth into a middle-class Punjabi family in the second-most populous country in the world would have been ordinary if it had not been aligned with the "stars" of India's 2001 census commission - making her India's Billionth Baby.

Aastha Arora was born on 11 May 2000, at approximately 05:05 a.m., in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital.

"On May 11, 2000, the census officials realised that they had still not reached the billionth [baby] mark," Arora told Vice. "My parents told me that the officials made the decision that if there was a girl child born anywhere in India between 3 am and 6 am, they would give her the tag of the billionth baby. As luck would have it, I was that child."

"I was probably four or five years old when I first heard the word billionth baby on the UN population day when a camera crew landed up at my school," Aastha said Vice. "For a child it was a big thing to appear on TV, and I loved the attention."

The government allegedly promised Arora three things, free higher education, healthcare in government hospitals, and railway travel across the country. However, nothing in writing was given, so nothing was accomplished.

"At the time, my mother was shifted to a special, private ward in the hospital. My father was busy making sense of what was going on. Neither of them had the time nor energy to get these things in writing."

At the age of 22, Aastha Arora has recently joined a private hospital as a nurse.

"I wanted to study science and become a doctor, but my parents couldn't afford to send me to a private school, so I had to compromise and train as a nurse," she told BBC.

Family members say the only financial assistance they received was from UNFPA, which established a fund of 200,000 rupees ($2,425; £2,118) they could use to pay for Aastha's college education upon reaching the age of 18. The fund has grown to 700,000 rupees, enabling her to pay for part of her nursing studies.

Astha herself has weighed in on this issue in recent years, describing India's huge population as "a problem" at public forums.

"I was the billionth baby, soon we could have the two billionth baby," she adds. "I hope we never reach that milestone."

Story first published: Saturday, November 26, 2022, 16:01 [IST]
Read more about: india population
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