India has adopted a system of five year plans to achieve higher standards of living and better opportunities for its people. The living standards are not up to mark because the population has been growing rapidly without a corresponding increase in resources.
There has not been an effective institutionalized mechanism to reduce birth rate. On the other hand efforts to bring down the death rate have been quite successful. A high rate of population growth is bound to adversely affect the economic progress of the country.
Therefore, it is important that government and voluntary agencies take effective measures to check population growth. Family planning measures become immensely important in such a situation of population growth.
India has adopted family planning measures to bring down the birth rate considerably. Department of family planning was created in the Ministry of Health, in 1966. Family planning envisages measures motivating people to bring down the birth rate.
A comprehensive National Population Policy (NPP) was evolved in April 1976 and was modified in 1981. The main objective of the policy was to integrate family planning with the planning of the socioeconomic development of India. Age at marriage was raised from 15 to 18 years for girls and from 18 to 21 years for boys.
The aim of the NPP is to impress upon the people the need for small, planned families for their own good as well as for the well being of their children. The 20 point programme, announced in January 1982, incorporated the Family Welfare Programme.
The programme envisages family planning on a voluntary basis as a people’s movement. What is needed is to inculcate awareness among the people through the media and oral communication about the significance of the small family norm. Female literacy and education can play a decisive role in bringing down the rate of population growth.
Today policies of economic development have not been very effective because the increase in production is absorbed by the growth of population. Improvement in conditions of health and hygiene has lowered the death rate.
The family planning movement gains national importance in such a situation of imbalance between development and population growth. A strong, purposeful government policy, supported by effective programmes and adequate resources of finance, men and materials is an essential condition of success.
The following suggestions have been put forward to curb population growth:
(a) Group acceptance of the small sized family;
(b) Personal knowledge about family planning methods; and
(c) Ready availability of birth control devices and services.
The crux of the population policy is the reduction of the national birth rate, irrespective of the social, cultural and economic milieu. Coercing people of adopt family planning methods has not worked. Violation alone, created through awakening, can be an effective measure.