DATE=8/18/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA-POPULATION NUMBER=2-252888 BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: United Nations demographers say India's population crossed the one-billion mark sometime around mid August, when the nation celebrated the 52nd anniversary of its independence from Britain. India's census officials say the billion mark will not be reached until a few months later in the new millenium. Social scientists and experts say - whenever it happens - it demonstrates India's inability to come to grips with its population problem. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha has a report. Text: There is much debate on whether the billionth baby has already arrived in India - or will be born in the coming months. Demographers say inaccurate data on births and deaths makes it difficult to establish the exact date of this event. It may have occurred late last year - or may not happen until May next year. One of the country's most prominent social scientists, Ashish Bose, says in either case the implications are the same. ///Insert Bose Act/// What they (demographers) are saying is as we enter the new millennium, the 21st century, there will only be two countries in the world with a population of more than one billion out of which China has already crossed that quite some time back and we are the second country. And at the rate at which we are going, we may be the first country in the world exceeding China's population. ///End Bose act/// India's population is now three times higher than at Independence in 1947. This huge increase is partly due to the fact that mortality rates have declined more rapidly than fertility rates due to better health care services. But experts point out the one billion mark is being reached despite the fact that India has the world's oldest official family planning program. This was launched 50 years ago when planners recognized the enormous problems the growing numbers would pose. The program has prevented millions of births. But critics say it has failed to spread the message about the need to limit numbers, or provide people with effective birth control and reproductive health services. As a result India adds 17 million people to the world every year. This growing population is not evenly spread through the country. Several southern and western states have had extraordinary success in slowing population growth, largely due to higher levels of literacy. But enormous concern centers on four large states where development has been slow and literacy has lagged behind. Mr. Bose says in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the birth rate is much higher than the national average. ///Insert Bose Act/// The (population) share of these four large states which have become demographic liabilities will increase. Now it is 40 per cent, it will increase to 45 per cent, 50 per cent, 60 per cent at this rate. That will create a demographic imbalance. ///End Act/// Director of the the Population Foundation of India, K. Srinivasan, says even in these states the problem can be tackled if the government keeps pace with a growing demand for family planning services. He says the population control program has slowed down in recent decades - after political leaders became unnerved by the widespread outrage over a forced sterilization program launched in the mid-1970's. But according to Mr. Srinivasan, recent surveys suggest people want - but are not getting access to birth control services. ///Insert Srinivasan act/// All the surveys which have been done said there has been an enormous unmet need for family planning. There are almost 30 per cent of couples who do not want any more children or who don't want a child now for the