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IT WASN'T UP TO THE STRAIN

Officially, the population of India hit 1 billion at 5:05 a.m. yesterday, census authorities announced. This makes India the second country to reach the mark. China's billionth person is presumed to have been born in late 1984 or 1985. The UN, by the way, doesn't agree; it figures the Indian milestone arrived last August. So it's probably only a coincidence that the UN's digital "population clock" in the center of New Delhi quit ticking shortly before the big moment. The billboard-sized counter, positioned at a busy intersection, lacked the capacity to go beyond 999,999,999 anyway.

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THEY'LL WORK IN CONCERT

By naming violinist Kanako Ito as its concertmaster earlier this week, the Kansas City Symphony became only the second in a major US market whose top two artistic positions are held by women. Music director Anne Manson has been in her job since October 1998. Denver's Colorado Symphony also is led by two women.

Best-off countries tend to have best-off mothers, too

Where do moms have it best? In a sense, that's what Save the Children, the nonprofit, Westport, Conn.-based child-development and relief organization, reveals in the results of a new study this week. In ranking 106 countries according to the well-being of mothers, its report found literacy and use of family planning were the most influential factors. The study also considered mothers' participation in national government and health-related concerns. Although national wealth was not an overriding factor, the countries leading the survey generally are developed and well-off. The nations atop the "mothers index":

1. Norway

2. Canada

3. Australia

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4. Switzerland

(tie) US

6. Netherlands

7. United Kingdom

8. Finland

9. France

10. Cyprus

-Business Wire

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society