The Lineaments of Population Policy in India: Women and Family Planning, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Lineaments of Population Policy in India

Women and Family Planning, 1st Edition

Edited by Mohan Rao

Routledge India

830 pages

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India is the first country in the world to have an official programme for family planning that commenced in 1952. It has also seen a strong women’s movement to assert reproductive and contraceptive rights. This book brings to the fore several contestations and negotiations between public policy and the women’s movement in India. The comprehensive volume puts together key documents from archival records and authoritative sources, and traces the contours that have marked and defined the population policy in India as well as rights issues for women.

A major intervention in the field, this book will be indispensable for scholars and researchers in public policy, public health, demography, gender studies, social policy, development studies, sociology, social justice, human rights, politics and those interested in the study of modern India.


‘Ably selected by Dr Mohan Rao, this collection of documents on India’s population policies is a valuable resource for scholars, policymakers and public health and reproductive rights advocates. Rao’s introduction provides important historical analysis and context for understanding how the technocratic, neo-Malthusian drive to reduce birth rates has for decades negatively affected the provision of family planning and primary health care services in India. In the name of national development, it has often deepened caste, class, religious, regional and gender inequalities. The volume also includes documents from the women’s health movement that point to the long history of popular resistance to coercive population control. In shedding light on what has gone wrong, The Lineaments of Population Policy in India encourages readers to think about what a genuine reform of Indian population policy would look like.’

Betsy Hartmann, Professor Emerita of Development Studies and Senior Policy Analyst of the Population and Development Program, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, USA, and author of Reproductive Rights and Wrongs (1987)

‘This is an important archive of original documents that maps the manner in which the colonial state in India before 1947, and then the post colonial state thereafter, has constructed the population question in India in Malthusian terms over more than 150 years. A reading of the documents that Mohan Rao has assembled shows that beginning with the eugenics concerns of the state and going on to the highly repressive excesses of the post independent Indian state during the emergency, women and men have been regarded as rebellious subjects that must be kept in order even if excesses are required to deal with what is constructed as the population bomb that is ticking away and will explode any moment. What is critical is that such an approach has skewed what is, or should be, the primary responsibility of the state-- that of providing health care to all its citizens. The careful selection of documents makes evident that poor women have been regarded as enemies of the nation and, in the name of population control, women’s bodies have been subjected to irresponsible and even invasive techniques that have led to campaigns by feminists and others in the democratic health movement against such a callous attitude displayed by the state. The documents also reveal that ideologies of discipline and punish that have driven state action have met with resistance leading to some change of strategies and a growing demand for a more sensitive and acceptable population policy that does not exacerbate the class and gender inequalities in our society.’

Uma Chakravarti, historian and women’s rights activist based in India

Table of Contents

General Introduction

Vina Mazumdar


Mohan Rao

Part I: The Ideas of Malthus

1. India Famine Commission, 1880

2. Census of India, 1891 — Chapter III: The Movement of The Population, 1893

3. Census of India (1911) — Chapter II: Movement of The Population, 1912

4. Census of India, 1931 — Section IV: Population Problem, 1933

5. Sub-Committee on Women’s Role in Planned Economy, 1939

6. Report of Health Survey and Development Committee, 1946

7. National Planning Committee Series: Population, 1947

8. Extracts from National Planning Committee Report of Sub-Committee on Public Health, 1948

Part II: The Population Bomb Years

9. First Five Year Plan: Chapter on Health, 1951

10. Report of The Health Survey and Planning Committee, 1961

11. Third Five Year Plan, 1961

12. Report of The Committee to Study The Question of Legalisation of Abortion, 1966

13. Central Family Planning Council Mukherjee Committee Report on IUCD, 1966

14. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

15. Report of The Committee of Multipurpose Workers Under Health & Family Planning Programme, Ministry of Health and Family Planning, 1973

16. Extracts from Towards Equality Report of The Committee on The Status of Women in India, 1974

17. National Population Policy- Statement by Dr. Karan Singh, 1976

Part III: Women as Votaries

18. Shah Commission of Inquiry, 1978

19. Report of The Working Group on Population Policy, 1978

20. ICSSR & ICMR Health for All: An Alternative Strategy, 1980

21. Statement on National Health Policy, 1982

22. Maharashtra Act No. XV of 1988

23. Task Force on Hormonal Contraception

Part IV: Paradigm Shift?

24. Draft of National Population Policy, 1994

25. The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994

26. Andhra Pradesh State Population Policy: A Statement and a Strategy, 1997

27. Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research on Human Subjects, 2000

28. National Population Policy, 2000

29. National Health Policy, 2002

30. National Human Rights Commission: Declaration, 2003

31. Panchayati Raj and the ‘Two-Child Norm’: Implications and Consequences, 2003

32. JNU Statement: Looking Back at Cairo, 2004

33. The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation Bill, 2008)

34. Draft of The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill - 2010

About the Editor

Mohan Rao is Professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. A medical doctor specialised in public health, he has written extensively on the history and politics of health and population. He has also been closely associated with the women’s movements and health movements in the country. He is the author of From Population Control to Reproductive Health: Malthusian Arithmetic (2004), has edited Disinvesting in Health: The World Bank’s Prescriptions (1999) and The Unheard Scream: Reproductive Health and Women’s Lives in India (2004) and co-edited Markets and Malthus: Population, Gender and Health in Neo-liberal Times (with Sarah Sextor, 2010) and Public Health and Private Wealth: Stem Cells, Surrogates and Other Strategic Bodies (with Sarah Hodges, 2016).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies