The rapid growth of population is a world problem of the utmost gravity. In India, where inadequate food supplies are a serious threat to development, the result of the “population explosion” can be especially acute. This can whittle down all our efforts towards betterment and be a source of ill health and unhappiness to the individual families. In mid-1966, India's population passed the 500 million mark, and it is growing at the rate of more than 12 million a year. India's population is the second largest in the world; it comprises 14% of the world's population; yet, this population must be supported on 2.4% of the world's land area.
         The Government of India recognised the threat of over­population and launched the world's first official Family Planning Programme in 1952. Together with the need for increased food production, Family Planning took its place at the very centre of" the development effort. A nation­wide organisation is being built, and large sums have been allocated to this high priority programme. Every proved contraceptive method is being promoted. A widespread mass education programme is underway. Training and research centres in all aspects of the programme have been established. The overall objective of the programme is to achieve a reduction in the country's annual birth rate from 40 per thousand to 25, in the next 10 years. The cooperation and active participation of all the people in this National Task is of the utmost importance.
            On the occasion of the observance of the Family Planning Week, the P & T Department is bringing out a special postage stamp-on the 12th December, 1966.
The Family Planning Programme in India is one of the important elements in the country's total strategy of socio­economic growth. It aims, on the one hand, to create in man the urge for a better life for himself and for his offspring and, on the other, to make available to him some of the essential means of economic and social betterment.
          The basis of the programme is entirely voluntary. It must draw, on its own strength, people, particularly those living in villages, to the vast network of primary health centres and sub-centres where health, family planning, nutrition and allied services are available for the asking.
          Launched officially in 1952, the family planning programme was, in the initial years, i.e., under the First Five Year Plan and to a considerable extent under the Second Plan also, more or less clinic-based. Later, under the Third Plan, greater emphasis was placed on the extension education approach to make it community-based as well as on expansion of services to meet the demand that this approach created. The process was carried further under the Fourth Plan. Non-official orga­nisations, including voluntary bodies, were encouraged, given incentives and financial support, to take the programme to the door­steps of the common people and to help the government in converting it into a mass movement.
        Under the current Plan, integrated health, family planning and allied services have been included in the 'minimum needs programme'. High priority has been accorded to rural and backward areas. Research in bio-medical, motivational and other areas has been intensified to develop new contraceptive methods and devices, identify specific problems of specific people and design strategies and campaigns which may prove more effective.
          More than 80,000 medical, para-medical and other personnel are engaged in the programme today. In the rural areas alone, the number of primary health centres (one for every block) and sub-centres (one for 10,000 people) exceeds 5,300 and 35,000 respectively. In the urban areas, in addi­tion to hospitals and dispensaries, there are several family welfare planning and post­partum centres. The package of family planning services in these centres includes sterilisation, IUD and conventional contra­ceptives.
         The programme is financed totally by the Central Government. Its implementa­tion is done through the State Govern­ments. The Central Family Planning Council, of which the Union Minister of Health and Family Planning is the Chair­man, is the apex body which helps the government in formulating broad policies and supervising their implementation from time to time.
         There are in India today about 104 million couples in the reproductive age-group (age of wife 15-45). Nearly 19 per cent of these couples are currently pro­tected against conception through voluntary adoption of one method or the other. The birth rate has come down from 41.7 in 1961 to 34.5 per thousand in 1974. The Fifth Plan target is to bring it down to 30. To achieve this target it is necessary that about 35 per cent of the total number of eligible couples accept family planning.
         Now, as part of the National Population Policy, family planning has been accorded a very high place in the national order of priorities. It has been placed at the centre of all development activities and is a vital component of the total strategy of socio­economic growth.
         The programme has been picking up fast. The people are accepting it in in­creasingly large numbers and there is every hope that. The birth rate of 30 per thousand set for the Fifth Plan will be achieved.
        The Posts and Telegraphs Department feels privileged to associate itself with the cause of family planning by bringing out a commemorative stamp.

This list was prepared by Dr. Jinadatha

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