Family Planning in India

The population of India has reached a whopping estimate of 1.35 billion, according to the most recent data provided by UN. Reports also suggest that the population growth rate in India is so rapid that by 2028, it will surpass China to be the most populous country in the world. That is bad news. Even though some reports show that the population growth rate of India has slowed down in recent years because of the use of effective birth control methods, it is still much higher than that of China. This will prove to be very harmful for India when looked from a long-term perspective. However, there has been significant slowing down of the population growth rate because of the people adapting to effective birth control methods. Let us take a glimpse at how it all began and what it is leading to!

History of family planning in India
A few years after attaining independence, a lot of things took a positive turn towards population control. In 1949, the Family Planning Association of India was formed. In 1952, India became the first country to take considerable steps towards family planning by launching a national campaign. It started off as covering essential birth control methods and later on took under it the spheres of mother and child health, family welfare and nutrition.A separate department of family planning was created in 1966 by the Ministry of Health. In 1977, a new policy regarding population control was developed by the then-ruling Janata Government. This also led to a change in name of the Family Planning Department to the Family Welfare Programme.

The“Hum Do, Hamaare Do”campaign,although not being able to bring a drastic change, brought the issue to light and spread awareness about the dangers of population explosion. It was a significant campaign focused at stabilizing the population and bringing consistency to it as per the national economic requirements. The campaign directly translated to – “We two, ours two”. It encouraged couples to have two children so as to lessen the population burden on the country. Sanjay Gandhi had predicted of an India burdened with over-population and hence, took the initiative. Walking down the memory lane, maybe India would have had a separate present had the campaign worked or Sanjay Gandhi still would have been alive.
All forms of mass media, modern and traditional, were used to gather support for the campaign. In spite of the efforts, the campaign failed because of the political situation that the country was in back then as well as the negative publicity that the campaign had brought. Vasectomy for males and Tubectomy for females, IUD’s and condoms, all these birth control methods have been very difficult to implement in India because of several reasons. Firstly, the uneducated class have shown great resistance to these birth control methods as they often take it as a loss of femininity or masculinity and do not understand the emergence or importance of them. Secondly, because of natural disasters, epidemics and other factors, out of several children only a few or none survive till the end. This led to them wanting to save the family by giving birth to several children and not adapting to birth-control methods.

The main strategies carried out for the proper implementation of the Family Welfare Programme are:

  • A 2 child norm to be practiced in families
  • To merge the Family Planning Programme with other healthcare services
  • Encouraging equal educational opportunities for both men and women
  • Encouraging breast-feeding
  • Monetary support to poor people to adopt essential family planning measures
  • Family planning awareness spread through channels like newspapers, radio, television and puppet shows.

Importance of family planning
It is not just about contraception or birth control methods. It is about the overall improvement a family’s economic condition. It is also very important in securing a healthy life for the mother and her children. Family planning highlighted the significance of spacing two births at a minimum of two years from one another. Apart from this, a lot of medical costs are involved during pregnancy and birth, alongside the costs of bringing up the children properly. Family planning is necessary to save these costs by not bringing up too many children but just two children. Proper family planning can have a very positive impact in stabilizing a family’s financial condition.
Impact of the Family Planning Programme The impact of the family planning programme in India are:
  • There has been a considerable increase in the use of contraceptives
  • An increase in the usage of condoms as a birth control method
  • Awareness of one or more than one method of contraception
  • Awareness of female sterilization methods which are the most popular modern birth control methods
  • Low fertility rates in educated women
  • Low fertility rates in groups with higher income

India has a long way to go when it comes to family planning and population control methods, but the way it has been adapting to birth control methods is indeed commendable. A little education and awareness are the only two ingredients needed to make the rural and uneducated population take up effective birth control methods as well, thus, stabilizing the population growth rates. Proper family planning along with gender equality and increased public awareness are the needs of the moment to make India uproot the extreme pressures of population explosion and fly freely again.