Given by R.A. Gopalaswami, I.C.S. (retd.) by way of K.A. Povah, Esq., M.A.
Mr Gopalaswami joined the Madras cadre of the Indian Civil Service in 1927 where he rose from Assistant Collector to Joint Secretary of the Provincial Board of Revenue. In 1940 he was transferred to the Centre where he served as Secretary of the National Defence Council (1941), Director-General of Civil Defence (1943), Secretary of the Famine Enquiry Commission (1944), Joint Secretary, Agricultural Department (1945), Secretary, Ministry of Food (1947). A noteworthy chapter in this memoir describes the work of the Foodgrains Policy Committee in turning India into the world’s most controlled economy as far as basic food distribution was concerned.After Independence Mr Gopalaswami served in a variety of Central posts including Registrar-General and Census Commissioner of India 1949-53 and work in connection with the reorganisation of the machinery of government. As Census Commissioner he became convinced of the primacy of family planning in India and there is an important chapter on this subject in the memoir. In 1953 he returned to Madras where he served in a number of important posts ending his career in 1963 as Chief Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu. In the last phase of his career he was particularly satisfied with his work in the organisation of Panchayati Raj in Madras. He continued to hold a number of offices after Independence.
In 1951, Mr Gopalaswami, as Census Commissioner, wrote the first official paper recommending the Government of India to accept and proclaim a national population policy with the object of limiting the rate of growth of population. His recommendations, after much opposition, were at length accepted and the Government of India became the first of any nation-state in the world to proclaim a national policy of family limitation and incorporate it in the national planning system.
Part I of this essay describes the progress of family limitation in India up to 1986. The author first makes the point that family limitation is aimed at, not family planning. The former sets out to avoid births, the latter to plan births according to the convenience of the mother. Through the evidence of unpublished data sent him over a period of many years by the Tamil Nadu Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, he was able to devise an Index Number of Family Limitation (I.N.F.L.) for the purpose of registering the progress of all the Indian states in promoting family limitation. In a series of tables he is able to show the progress ranking in family limitation of the 14 states of India, Maharashtra showing the greatest progress and Uttar Pradesh the least.
Part II of the essay is entitled ‘How to accelerate future progress?’ The education of women and greater prosperity are seen as keys to the question. More children does not mean more workers but more people without work.’ He compares the experience of Great Britain in the 1960s and 70s with that of Tamil Nadu, the most advanced Indian state with regard to family limitation. He concludes that surgical methods of contraception (i.e. sterilization) are more effective than clinical ones.
He suggests that the various political parties in each state should help to promote a common national programme for family limitation by persuading eligible couples to accept the ‘small family norm’. In recognition of their help government would give, periodically, a contribution to party funds. 27pp.