Lucknow: The world's population touched another milestone on Monday as India welcomed the birth of baby Nargis as the "symbolic" seven billionth baby. Weighing three kgs, the baby was born at a community centre in Mall at Danaur village on the outskirts of Lucknow at 7.20 AM, adding to India's population of 1.21 billion.

"Nargis is the first child of 23-year-old Vinita and 25-year-old farmer Ajay and has been welcomed as the symbolic seven billionth baby," Bhagyashree Dengle, Executive Director of child rights group Plan India said.

Nargis shares the honours of being the world's symbolic seven billionth baby with Philippines' Danica May Camacho who was born just after midnight at a government hospital in Manila.

The birth of Nargis has given a new resolve to her father Ajay, who now wants to work for creating awareness among the people about nurturing the girl child and wants his daughter to become a doctor.

Nargis was selected to be the symbolic seven billionth baby to focus on the plight of the girl child in the country facing the problem of female foeticide, Dengle said.

The birth of Nargis and six other girls born in the area on Monday was celebrated at a function organised by Plan India.

All the seven girls born in the area were given birth certificates and have also got seven celebratory sponsors like Mallika Sarabhai, Sunita Narain and Anushka Shankar who would
be taking care of issues relating to their basic rights, education, health and participation for the next seven years as per the Plan India initiative.

Dengle said the UN had carried out a survey which found that the probability of the seven billionth child being born in Uttar Pradesh was high. Every minute, 51 babies are born in
India, 11 of them in Uttar Pradesh.

Surprised by the media attention surrounding the birth of his daughter, Ajay said he would soon meet people of adjoining villages to create awareness about the rights of the girl child.
"Both me and my wife had wanted a girl child who is given the status of a 'devi' in our society", Ajay who is the youngest in his family of four and resides in a thatched house, said.

"Even my parents are happy over this birth", he said adding now it would be his ambition to see that his daughter becomes a doctor though it would require lots of resources.

"I have been told that all the expenses and other requirements would be met by the sponsors for the next seven years. I would try that she gets all facilities to become a doctor", Ajay owns 8 to ten bighas of land and grows wheat, rice and mangoes, said.

Dengle said, "By celebrating the birth of a girl child as the seven billionth child in the world we are drawing attention to the serious issue of India's declining child sex ratio".

Today, there are just 914 girls for 1000 boys between 0 and six years, she said, adding that Plan India has also launched "Let girls be born" campaign in six states to galvanise support on the issue of female feticide.

Global Press officer of Plan International Devender Kumar said there is no concrete mechanism to find out the seven billionth child and it is a symbolic exercise to promote the girl child.

As the world's population touched the landmark seven billion mark, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for "unity of purpose" among people across nations to address problems of climate change, economic crisis and inequality.

"Some say our planet is too crowded. I say we are seven billion strong. But we will only be able to use that strength for the benefit of all if our societies are built on mutual respect and understanding," Moon said.

Moon said the world must come together "on this special day... in the name of the global common good."

Agencies