Family Planning:

Century Textiles and Industries Ltd. (popularly known as Century Mills) is one of the oldest industrial concerns which initially started motivating its female employees, with the help of the Family Planning Association of India, to use contraceptives as early as in 1956. Subsequently, male workers were also approached and a programme of supplying contraceptives was introduced.
In 1965 Century Mills adopted the Family Planning Programme as a crucial part of its welfare activities for its employees. The Mills set up its own clinic where vasectomies were performed by eminent surgeons in an air-conditioned, well-equipped theatre.

A full-fledged Medico Social worker and a gynaecologist with medical attendants have been carrying on Family Planning activities ever since.

In the early seventies Century's textile section had approximately 12,000 workers and a staff of over a thousand. With a view to assess the number of eligibles, the Mills carried out regular surveys. The 1972 survey covered 432 workers, as against 222 in 1971, and 440 in 1970. Family Planning became a part of a planned parenthood programme. Education was considered the key to its success. The Mill's methods of propagating Family Planning varied as per the needs of its employees. Its social workers gave individual as well as group talks and arranged film shows and exhibitions by way of posters. Every opportunity to talk to workers was availed of to impress upon them, in an appealing and persuasive manner, the importance of a small and happy family. Special care was taken of workers' children. Workers were advised to regularly use contraceptives.


YEAR AVG No of children per family
1965 4.50
1971 3.00
1975 2.50
1978 1.70
1988 1.60
2000 1.30

All those who got sterilized at the Company's clinic initially received cash benefits offered both by the E.S.I. and the Government. However, after some time, E.S.I. stopped its scheme. The Company on its own paid Rs. 20/- to each of its employees undergoing vasectomy or tubectomy. In fact this scheme was introduced even before the Government or E.S.I. did so. Besides, 3 days special paid leave was granted to employees undergoing vasectomy. The Clinic has been recognised by the Government of Maharashtra as well as by the E.S.I. Corporation.

The need for Family Planning from the individual and family point of view has been happily and voluntarily accepted by employees. Moreover, social workers have still been visiting the Mill's departments and surveys are carried out for implementing Family Planning programmes and evaluating their success. Dr. (Mrs.) Asha Singal and social worker Mrs. Mhatre devote all their energies to run the Clinic and Health Centre as efficiently as possible. Even today the Clinic gives counselling services to its employees, distributes contraceptives free of cost and treats antenatal and post-natal cases, apart from other gynaecological problems. Wives of male workers who undergo tubectomy operation are granted 2 days leave with full pay, and workers who themselves get operated for vasectomy are granted 3 days leave with full pay.

The Clinic has gradually started rendering services to outsiders for I.U.C.D. and vasectomy operations. Both the 'group' as well as 'individuals' are approached so as to ensure maximum coverage.

The Family Planning programme of Century Mills is a success, which can be seen. The average number of children per family, which had come down to 3 at the end of 1971 as compared to 4.5 in 1965 has today come down to a record 1.3. It has created confidence among its workers, along with a sense of well-being, and the realisation that real joys of parenthood are equitably shared joys.

Courtesy: S. R. Makharia, Century Textiles and Industries Ltd.


By Ben J. Wattenberg

In a proposal sexily titled ‘‘The Future of Fertility in Intermediate-Fertility Countries,’’ the U.N. concludes that in this century we can expect a ‘‘slowing of population growth rates’’ followed by ‘‘slow reductions in the size of world population.’’

Yes, you read it right: ‘‘reductions.’’ That means we are less likely to ‘‘run out of resources,’’ burn ourselves up with global warming or be overrun by a great dusky horde of Third World Immigrants. Instead we’ll have to deal with the problems ?and opportunities ?that come with a shrinking population.

On the surface, this is a statistical matter. But it deals with a statistic upon which much of the current global belief system rests. The background is important. Although the U.N. projects three alternative and allegedly equally valid projection series, ‘‘High", ‘‘Low’’ and ‘‘Medium,’’ it is Medium that is the Mama Bear and gets all the attention. The word may be ‘‘medium,’’ but as it plays out it reads ‘‘most likely.’’

And what was most likely in the earlier medium projection was a masive increase in population, climbing from 6 billion people today to 9.3 billion by 2050, and topping out at 11.5 billion people in the distant future. Eventually, the ‘‘medium variant’’ projected, every nation would arrive at a total fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman ?the ‘‘replacement rate,’’ at which over time a human population stabilizes. This meant low fertility countries would increase their baby production and high fertility countries would lower theirs. In other words, in the long run we might be OK, but in the meantime we’d face ‘‘overpopulation.’’

Environmentalists, the slow-growth crowd and population-control enthusiasts liked this forecast. The overpopulation crisis was real, inexorable, and growing, they argued. Something had to be done; and they were the ones to do it ?if only they had the attention and the funds.

Then reality intervened. Never have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so low, for so long, in so many places. Europe has now seen 45 consecutive years of fertility decline, from 2.66 children per woman in 1955-1960 down to 1.34 in 2000-2005. Japan has declined from 2.75 to 1.33. The phenomenon is also proceeding in the less developed world, where fertility levels are higher but rates are falling faster than ever seen previously in the developed nations.

The U.N. slowly responded. In 1998, after consultations with demographers, the projections for low-fertility countries were lowered. No longer would countries with incredibly low fertility rates in the range of 1.2 (Italy and Spain) move toward 2.1 by 2050; instead they were forecast at about 1.7. But this still had relatively little effect on total global population; the low-fertility nations are not typically the most populous ones.

Now, however, the U.N.’s new proposal acknowledges that fertility is falling more rapidly than expected in some big, less developed countries with ‘‘intermediate’’ levels of fertility (2.1 to 5.0). These include India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Bangladesh and the Philippines. (China, at 1.8 is already below replacement level, in part due to coercive family planning policies.) The U.N. concludes that the less developed nations are heading toward a fertility rate of 1.85, down significantly from the 2.1 of earlier projections. This would yield a maximum global population in the 8 billion to 9 billion range.

I suspect that alarmists will be displeased by the new reality-based projections, seeing it as an attack on their rice bowl. They can take some succour from the to-ing and fro-ing within the document. While it states that the new medium projections will lead to ‘‘rates of population growth ...much lower than currently projected,’’ it also notes that population will still be growing (slightly) by mid-century. Moreover, it states that those who have maintained that ‘‘the end of population growth’’ is in sight have been ‘‘somewhat hyperbolic.’’ But, as mentioned, the central word is ‘‘reductions,’’ which makes the mere ‘‘end’’ of population growth an overly cautious statement rather than hyperbolic.

Actually, I think even the new 1.85 figure is still too high, and that by 2050 we will see a substantial population decline. I believe the slow decline the document speaks of will snowball, as happens in exponential arithmetic.

What does it mean? Most important, that we are not a species that is out of control.

  (Courtesy: ?b>‘The Financial Express’’, 5-3-2002, by exclusive arrangement with ?b>‘The Wall Street Journal’’)