The planet’s seven billionth human is due to arrive on Oct. 31, according to the United Nations Population Fund, and a village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is likely to hog the limelight for this population landmark. The U.N. agency has said it cannot pinpoint “the exact moment when or the exact place where that child will be born” but demographers expect the birthplace to be in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the world’s second-most populous country. Uttar Pradesh also has the highest birth rate and fertility rate among all Indian states.
In 1999, the U.N. named a Bosnian son of refugee parents the world’s sixth billionth person, but it has no such plan to name anyone this time. It has, however, launched a global campaign called ‘7 Billion Actions’ asking individuals, organizations and corporations to share their stories of how the world of seven billion people can be a better place for all to live. Not everyone agrees that the world’s population will hit the seven billion mark on Monday. Carl Bialik, The Wall Street Journal’s “Numbers Guy” wrote in a recent column: “U.N. demographers say the actual date of the milestone may fall six months later—or may have come six months ago. The U.S. Census Bureau, which does its own world-population estimate, projects the seven-billion mark will be crossed in mid-March 2012.”
But the U.N. has highlighted Oct. 31 as the symbolic date, while Plan, a U.K.-based children’s welfare non-profit organization, has begun the countdown for a birth of a girl in a village near Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. The organization is marking the day to draw the world’s attention to India’s seven million “missing” girls, referring to widespread female feticide and infanticide in a society that traditionally prefers male children to female ones.