Unfortunately, while the educated families living in cities are veering round to the view that a small family is a happy family, the uneducated and backward people in the country-side have not grasped the family planning message so far. They still believe that the birth of a child is an act of God and, therefore, no human being should interfere with it. Many couples nurse the belief that if a son is not born, the family lineage will be broken and they cannot hope to have salvation. Such couples keep on producing daughters in the hope of getting a son. Villagers welcome the birth of children because they believe that the children will help them in their old age.

Medical science offers a number of methods for family planning on a mass scale. These methods are of two types: permanent and temporary. ‘Vasectomy’ operation of males or the ‘Sterilization’ of women renders the couple incapable of having any more children for the rest of their lives. Other methods like – (i) Contraceptive pill, (ii) Loop (intra-uterine plastic coil), and (iii) Sheath (called Nirodh) enable the couple to ward off pregnancy for a particular period only.

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Some people advocate a natural way to prevent pregnancy. While this method is no doubt effective, it demands a very high degree of self-control. It cannot, therefore, be practised on a mass scale.

Family planning was adopted as an official programme in 1952. During that First and Second Plans, the programme was taken up in a modest way with a clinical approach. The stress was mainly on research in the field of demography, communication, physiology of reproduction and motivation. This programme was reorganised in the Third Plan and made target-oriented. It was only under the Fourth and Fifth Plans that the programme was accorded high priority.

During these years the programme underwent great expansion, leading to the consolidation and integration of family planning with maternal and child health care. The Sixth Plan envisaged the establishment of 40.000 additional sub- centres during 1980-85 of which about 35,836 sub-centres were established. It was proposed to establish another 50,000 sub-centres during the Seventh Plan. Till 30th September, 1993, there were 1.31 lakh sub-centres functioning.

The Seventh Plan (1985-90) provided an outlay of Rs. 3,256 crore for family welfare as compared to Rs. 1,010 crore in the Sixth Plan. The aim of the population policy has been to reduce the net reproduction rate (NRR) to one per cent by the period 2006-2011 A.D. To achieve this target, the Seventh Plan envisaged 42% couple protection rate, 31 million sterilizations and 21.25 million IUDsby 1990.

In keeping with the democratic traditions of the country, the Family Welfare Programme seeks to promote the small family norm and reproductive and child health, through free and voluntary choice.

The National Population Policy (NPP) was adopted by the Government on 15th February, 2000. The policy aims at: (i) addressing the unmet needs of contraception, health infrastructure, health personnel and to provide integrated service delivery for basic reproductive and child health care; (ii) to bring the total fertility rates to replacement level by 2010, and (iii) to achieve a stable population by 2045, at a level consistent with the requirements of sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

Whatever economic progress was made by India since Independence has been eaten up by the alarming increase in population. If the Government is serious about the eradication of poverty, no effort should be spared by the Government to bring down the growth rate to a reasonable level. If necessary, the Government should raise the existing marriageable age limit of 21 years for boys and 18 years for girls still further.

A comprehensive package of incentives and disincentives should be worked out. At present there are no disincentives at all for those who are indifferent to, or disregard the family planning norms. Moreover, people should be educated about the consequences of this alarming growth of population. This will have an adverse effect not only on the progress of India but also on the progress of the individual. No doubt the Government is trying its best to slow down the growth rate of population, but the key to success lies in the hands of the people.

During 2006-2007, 45, 14,092 sterilizations were performed in the country. The number of IUD insertions during the same period was 59, 45,859. Besides, there were 2, 06, 30,468 condom-users and 89, 46,014 oral pill users. In order to achieve population stabilization, the National Population Policy 2000 and the Tenth Five Year Plan laid great emphasis on addressing the unmet need for contraception.

NFHS-1II (2005-06) indicates that the unmet demand (currently married women who want no more children but are not using a method of contraception), both for limiting and spacing, continue to remain high in most states. The performance figures for sterilization operations have shown a dip of 3.8% from 2005-06 to 2006-07. IUD insertions too declined by 3.6% and condom acceptance declined by 0.4%. OP usage alone has gone up by 9.2%.

To achieve these objectives, the Draft Population Policy Paper emphasized the need to allocate 3 per cent of the total public sector plan outlay instead of the earlier meagre 1.8 per cent so that family planning and welfare services can be made universally available to the entire population and the unmet needs of contraception can be taken care of.

India’s annual population growth is expected to gradually decelerate from 1.6 per cent in 2006 to 0.9 per cent in 2026, according to the Economic Survey 2006-07. 1.1 billion current population, is estimated to have gone up from the Census 2001 figure of 1.02 billion. 1.4 billion Is the projected population of India by 2026.