Statistics tells us that between the periods 1966 to 2009 the fertility rate in India has halved. It came down from 5.7 per woman in 1966 to 2.6per woman in 2009. But the question of efficient family planning still remains a challenge. It was Raghunath Karve who wrote extensively on the danger of rising population in his magazine ‘Samajswaasthya’ in the pre-independent India. At that time he was ignored and even criticized for his ideas about the family planning which were perceived as too radical. But as the menace captured the horizon we witnessed a concern from the government and the civil society. Telling here the demerits of an overpopulated society is passé as we can observe those shortcomings in each and every realm of our Indian society. Today, the Indian Government is acting as the vanguard in the movement of family planning. Though it is leading the mission yet things are not shining except few glittering achievements.
The ‘Indira’ Factor in India
Demerits of having a massive population (with illiteracy at its zenith) were officially recognized in the reign of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But those were her regime’s ruthless actions only that worked as deterrence to the movement of family planning. With forced sterilization in place during the 1975 emergency the public sentiment grew more hostile to sterilization and contraceptive methods especially in the rural areas. So the start we could see was not so great and was accompanied by dozens of failures. Challenges were there for the future governments and the warning of Karve was revolving the nation.
Civil Society and NGOs; an important factor that arrived
Realizing the importance of obtaining public support on the issue of Family planning, the Indian government opened the gates for NGOs and voluntary associations to take the charge. After all it was the fight in which all of us had a concern. Today the NGO’s like JANANI and MAMTA are working in the rural parts of the nation in the field of education and family planning. We cannot ignore the importance of education and literacy while taking these issues. It has been observed through an independent research that only 18% of the literate couples of a rural region desire to go for a large family. On the other hand the figure for the illiterates is around 76%.
This clearly explains us the need of education in the rural arenas of the nation. An educated couple can very well analyze the banes that revolve around a large family. At this juncture the role of voluntary associations and NGOs means a lot to the society. They were supposed to change things and they have really changed it in the recent past. By opening many temporary health centers besides those initiated by the Government these NGOs have played a very important role in disseminating the information regarding various contraceptive methods with education programs side by side. NGOs like ‘Mehek Organization’ and ‘Women’s Friend’ are working in few villages of Bihar and Jharkhand in order to motivate the couples to go for a small family with a better future. Many of them have even opened the franchised clinics all-round the rural domain of the states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. These health clinics aimed at informing the public with new contraceptive methods like tube ligation. A point to be noted here is this that these NGOs provide the services of injectable sterilization which is not used by the government clinics even till today. There are certain conservative perceptions which are working as a barrier to these operations. For fighting these, the NGOs in rural India are also playing a role of a social teacher. With various social awareness programs initiated by them that involve public meetings, posters, Pamphlets etc, these NGOs are trying hard to build a consensus among the rural couples about a small family as a better family. By taking these prospects in mind we should not ignore the prominent role of these social institutions in fighting the bane of overpopulation.
Paradigms Followed- Paradigms to be followed
The issue of overpopulation and family planning is not only the action based on field work. Besides this we need to concentrate on many of the socio-economic factors that work parallel to this issue. There has been an approach of ‘Family planning resultant higher income’ since the prospects of small family was introduced to the social domain. Under this approach the concept of having a small family is followed by more saving and thus an increase in real income. This approach has been successful in the urban space but has not worked so well in the rural backdrops. Taking this in concern it would be better for us to follow the approach of ‘Higher Income resultant Family Planning’. This approach has a socialistic behavior in itself which states that the government should work in order to increase the real income of the people. It has been perceived by various researchers that the people in rural India go for a large family just because they are more financially insecure. They perceive a large family to be a better choice as more people could work resulting in greater income for the household in future. So the reason behind having a large family lies in their perception about handling their financial crisis. Besides changing their perception it would be better that the state should invest largely in the field of education and creating employment opportunities. With better employment at place their perception could be changed and this would be a successful step towards this movement of creating a better nation. But things depend on the will and determination of the government.
Lose will and lose Success
We must acknowledge the work done by the Indian Government in order to reduce the fertility rate in rural India with its approach of ‘Family Planning resultant Higher Income’. But there are some critical points on which we have to contemplate as a concerned citizen. Every year our government receives funds worth rupees millions and billions in order to invest those in the sector of health and family welfare. These establishments like WHO and UNICEF also endorse different social issues in India on which they work hand in hand. Besides this there are Crores sanctioned to the civil society and NGOs in order to deal with the issue of family planning. But the money is going where nobody knows. It is the absence of will power in most of the institutions of the nation which acts as a barrier to the social development. Lack of transparency about the usage of funds has brought in light many of the cases where the NGOs along with the officials were caught in corruption. Money to be spent in awareness programs have been found to be used in purchasing the laptops for personal use. There are allegations of preparing fake database and thus a bogus statistics in order to portray a development. Until and unless this attitude of certain sections amongst the responsible will not be checked the dream project for a small family and better family would never be realized in reality.