Family planning in India – Its History, Programmes, Importance and Impact

Family Planning

Family Planning

India’s population has already reached 1.26 billion in the current year and considering the present growth rate, by 2028, the country’s population will be more than China, according to a recent report from the UN. Though, the report has clearly mentioned that the rate of population growth has slowed down in recent years, due to effective implementation of family planning and family welfare programmes, yet the rate is growing at a much faster rate compared to China. The national fertility rate is still high which is leading to long-term population growth in India.

However, the family planning programme in India cannot be ignored. Let us discuss below about family planning in India and how it has played a major role in solving the problem of population growth in India to a certain extent:

History of Family Planning in India

Population growth has been a cause of worry for the Government of India since a very long time. Just after independence, the Family Planning Association of India was formed in 1949. The country launched a nationwide Family Planning Programme in 1952, a first of its kind in the developing countries. This covered initially birth control programmes and later included under its wing, mother and child health, nutrition and family welfare. In 1966, the ministry of health created a separate department of family planning. The then ruling Janata Government in 1977 developed a new population policy, which was to be accepted not by compulsion but voluntarily. It also changed the name of Family Planning Department to Family Welfare Programme.

Family Planning / Family Welfare Programme (FWP) by the Government in India

This is a centrally sponsored programme, for which 100% help is provided by the Central to all the states of the country. The main strategies for the successful implementation of the FWP programme are:

  • FWP is integrated with other health services.
  • Emphasis is in the rural areas
  • 2-child family norm to be practiced
  • Adopting terminal methods to create a gap between the birth of 2 children
  • Door-to-door campaigns to encourage families to accept the small family norm
  • Encouraging education for both boys and girls
  • Encouragement of breast feeding
  • Proper marriageable adopted (21 years for men and 18 years for women)
  • Minimum Needs Programme launched to raise the standard of living of the people.
  • Monetary incentives given to poor people to adopt family planning measures.
  • Creating widespread awareness of family planning through television, radio, news papers, puppet shows etc.

Importance of Family Planning in India

Family planning is not confined to only birth control or contraception. It is important as whole for the improvement of the family’s economic condition and for better health of the mother and her children. First of all, family planning highlights the importance of spacing births, at least 2 years apart from one another. According to medical science, giving birth within a gap of more than 5 years or less than 2 years has a seriously affect the health of both the mother and the child.

Giving birth involves costs and with an increase in the number of children in a family, more medical costs of pregnancy and birth are involved, along with incurring high costs of bringing up and rearing the children. It’s the duty of the parents to provide food, clothing, shelter, education to their children. Family planning, if adopted, has an effective impact on stabilising the financial condition of any family.

Impact of Family Planning Programme in India

The initiatives taken by the Government in implementing the Family Planning Programme have significant impact on the country as a whole. India was the first country in the world to establish a government family planning program way back in 1952. According to 2011 Family Welfare Programme, some major achievements are as follows:

  • Awareness of one or more methods of contraception.
  • Increase in contraceptives use over the years.
  • Knowledge of female sterilization, which is considered to the most safest and popular method of modern family  planning.
  • Increase in the use of condoms.
  • Increased knowledge about contraceptive pills.
  • Fertility rate low among educated women.
  • Fertility rate low among higher income groups.

Family Planning in India: More Success Expected
The family planning programmes are successful to a great extent but India still has a long way to go. Family planning has always been the main emphasis in population policies adopted by the Government of India. However, there is a need of more public awareness and public participation. Gender inequality, preference of sons over daughters, low standard of living, poverty, traditional thought processes of Indians, age-old cultural norms continue to cause poor family planning practices all across the country.

Related Information:

Overpopulation in India