In1947, whenIndiabecameindependent,fertility was high with couples averaging six children. Public health facilities were minimal and life expectancywasjust 40years.Withaburgeoning344 million population, with too soon and too many children detrimental to women's health, it was a group of concerned women who addressedthis issue. This evolved in establishing the Family PlanningAssociationofIndiain1949.Since then, FPA Indiahas grown each decade that is marked by pioneering work.
July - A small band of devoted and like minded men and women in Bombay establish the Family Planning Committee. Its mission: to help safeguard the health and lives of women who have too many and too closely spaced pregnancies by educating couple about the health and other benefits of family planning for the family, to inculcate in them a new sense of responsibility toward parenthood and, on a larger scale, to promote it as a measure that could help balance between population and resources.
This small beginning, although unknown then, was to become a significant first step toward a nationwide movement for family planning.
March, the Committee renames itself the Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) Two of its dynamic volunteers- Smt. Dhanvanthi Rama Rau and Smt. Avabai B Wadia are its President and Hony. General Secretary, respectively.
The year-old Association sends a Memorandum to the newly-formed Planning Commission of independent India, to include family planning in the country’s First Five Year Plan. Smt. Rama Rau and Mrs Wadia are invited and serve on its Health and Social Welfare Panels respectively, to speak for this cause.
The Planning Commission includes family planning in the First Five Year Plan, 1951-56, and India becomes the first country in the world to adopt family planning.
FPA India calls its first All India Family Planning Conference in Bombay. More than 100 medical practitioners, among others, attend. It proves valuable in demonstrating the importance of family planning and opening new vistas in ushering in a better quality of life.
A landmark year for FPA India. Several significant events with a national and global impact take place:
September- Kutumb Sudhar Kendra, FPA India’s first clinic, opens in Bombay with the aim of running it as a model centre for providing family planning advice and services along with assistance to childless couples, guidance in marital problems, and sex education as also for conducting research. Dr A. P. Pillay is the Hon. Director and Dr Sushila Gore, the Hon. Secretary. Later it was called the Family Welfare Bureau and moved to Worli. Clinics were also run for the Reserve Bank of India. Century Mills and Spring Mills in Bombay.
November- At the suggestion of Mrs. Margaret Sanger, a pioneer of the family planning movement in U.S.A and under the auspices of the International Committee on Family Planning, the young FPA India hosts the Third International Conference on Planned Parenthood in Bombay. Inaugurated by Dr B Radhakrishnan, the then Vice President of India, it is attended by 407 delegates from India and 80 across the world, a milestone in accelerating family planning work not only in India but worldwide as well.
November 29- At this Conference, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is born with the Family Planning Associations of India. UK, USA, West Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Singapore and Hongkong as Founder Members. Margaret Sanger and Dhanvanthi Rama Rau are the first Joint Presidents.
Today, IPPF is the world’s largest voluntary organization working in 180 countries for the promotion sexual and reproductive health and family planning.
December- Taking advantage of the presence of foreign experts from London, FPA India organizes a training course for 89 doctors.
Child Welfare Conference is inaugurated by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister at Delhi. His sister Ms Krishna Hathisingh and daughter Mrs Indira Gandhi also attended.
The Government of India establishes a programmes & Research Committee to draw up practical measures for promoting family planning and includes the FPA India President as a member.
It also sets up a Population and Social Development Committee.
This marks the first official link between Government and the voluntary sector. Since then, the FPA India President has represented the Association on the major population/family welfare policy –making bodies of Government including the Swaminathan Committee which drafted the recent national population policy in 1994.
Pilot projects are taken up outside Bombay-in Badlapur and Ulhasnagar-to study the problems of rural areas and provide outreach clinical services.
When FPA India established its clinics in Bombay, the State Government was not in favour of family planning. However, later, the policy was reversed and by November 1957, the State Government had undertaken an extensive family planning programme.
FPA India’s public education campaign continues. Seeing the urgent need for training doctors in contraceptive techniques, it organizes training courses for doctors and paramedics at its clinic, with the help of a small grant from the Brush Foundation of USA, through a touring doctor-tem to different parts of the country.
A newsletter, Planned Parenthood Bulletin (July 1953) and research –based journal. The Journal of Family Welfare (1954), are launched. Both periodicals enjoy a wide readership even today. In 1992, the Journal wins the Global Medical Award instituted by the Population Institute, Washington D.C., in the category of “Best Population Journal”.
FPA India Branches start working at 18 locations across the country to cater to the family planning educational and service needs of an ever-widening clientele.
FPA India is made a member of the Central Family Planning Board, which was later called Family Planning Council.