DATE=5/11/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA / BILLIONTH BABY (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-262226 BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= INTRO: India's billionth baby has been born in a hospital in New Delhi. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the event is being marked with expressions of concern over the nation's massive growth, as India becomes the second country in the world after China to cross the one billion mark. TEXT: The baby picked as India's billionth baby received a chaotic reception when she came into the world. As journalists scrambled to photograph the infant, the frightened parents were jostled, and hospital guards had to beat back the crowds. The baby girl has been named "Astha," which means faith in Hindi. With more than 40,000 births in the country every day, many in remote rural areas, it was difficult to pinpoint who exactly who would be the billionth child. The government chose Astha to symbolically mark the milestone. The U-N Population Fund's representative in the country, Michael Vlassoff, said it was a time for Indians to take stock of the situation. /// VLASSOFF ACTUALITY /// It's a fantastic number to contemplate. India is going to become only the second country in the world, and maybe only the second country ever to reach the level of one billion. /// END VLASSOFF ACTUALITY /// In a message to the nation, Prime Minsiter Atal Behari Vajpayee said the population growth was a serious matter. He called for introspection to see where the country had gone wrong, and how population can be stabilized. He said the nation's resources with regard to food, water and housing were being stretched to their limit. The prime minister urged the people to make family planning a national movement. The minister for women and child welfare, Sumitra Mahajan, echoed the concern saying "We welcome Astha, but we should also be thinking whether she will get an opportunity for education and health." Population experts said words will not suffice to stem the growth, and stressed the need for urgent action. They criticized the government's five-decade old family planning program for failing to deliver results, with the population three times higher than it was fifty years ago. If it maintains its current rate of growth, India will overtake China as the world's most populous nation in less than fifty years. (Signed) NEB/AP/KL 11-May-2000 09:54 AM EDT (11-May-2000 1354 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .