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Family Planning: India's Achilles' Heel?

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Before the advent of Indira Gandhi as the prime minister of India, the central government made little systematic effort at family planning. It provided financial aid to the states which were mainly responsible for developing health and family planning services. It was at Indira Gandhi's initiative that a department of family planning was established at the national level. Besides encouraging subsidized sale of condoms, the new department emphasized sterilization. Nevertheless, Indira Gandhi failed to provide constant and dynamic leadership for population control policies. It was under the leadership of her son, Sanjay, during the Emergency that vigorous family planning policy was formulated and rigorously enforced. Use of coercion in controlling the size of the family was, however, one of the most unpopular aspects of Indira Gandhi's rule, and resulted in her 1977 electoral defeat. The post-Emergency Government of Indira Gandhi was consequently unable to mobilize an effective family planning campaign.

Affiliations: 1: University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, U.S.A.


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