India is fast becoming the land of superlatives. For all the wrong reasons, of course. Be it August 15, 1999 (UN prediction), or May 11, 2000 (government of India estimates), the nation has reached the inevitable mark. At the time of Independence, the country's population was as low as 350 million. Five decades later, the number has multiplied three-fold (see graph). The growth rate is 1.8 per cent per year, comparatively higher than China's 0.9 per cent. This despite the country being the first in the world to adopt a family planning policy in 1952.