PFI releases monograph detailing its achievements

The Population Foundation of India in last 47 years, has tried to change the policy environment through evidence based advocacy using a multi-sectoral approach

New Delhi: Negotiating the Population Question: An Institutional History of the Population Foundation of India, 1970–2015, a detailed monograph that documents the legacy of the Population Foundation of India (PFI) was launched at an event recently in the national capital. Authored by sociologist Dr Radhika Ramasubban, the monograph traces the institutional history of the organisation, the forces and nuances that have shaped the functioning of PFI, and how it is looking to address future challenges.
Over the years PFI has spearheaded multiple projects that have endeavoured to put the public back in public health. The organisation has prioritised a rights-based approach to family planning and has taken initiative and conducted new research on the effectiveness of behaviour change communication with the extremely popular edutainment show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon. Using the Advance Family Planning advocacy tool, PFI has tried to change the policy environment through evidence –based advocacy using a multi-sectoral approach.
Launching the monograph, PFI Chairperson Keshav Desiraju said, “The PFI monograph is a blueprint to recall the contribution of men who were way ahead of their time, JRD Tata and Dr. Bharat-Ram, who recognised the need for us as a nation to have for a healthy, wholesome population. Over the years our focus has shifted from family planning to family welfare and from family welfare to maternal and child health. But the time has come for us to address public health as a whole; PFI should look at the larger canvas of health.” Mr Desiraju, an IAS officer (retired) has also served as the Health Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In her keynote address, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the Director General of Indian Council for Medical Research acknowledged and commended PFI for its contribution to a rights-based approach to family planning. Dr Swaminathan said, “The issue is not one of family planning anymore, but really of providing a holistic public health service so that our women, children and men can have a quality life. We need to address boys, very often our messaging is focussed on girls and making them self-reliant. But somewhere we have gone terribly wrong in how our boys have been socialised. And we need organisation like PFI to think about how to reach boys and to change their attitudes to women. It is important for boys to have positive role models like the one the one PFI has created for women in their edutainment show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon. And it won’t change overnight but these are our challenges.”
Since the inception of PFI in 1970 by JRD Tata and Dr Bharat Ram, the organisations’ work has been to promote and advocate the effective formulation and implementation of gender sensitive population, health and development policies.
The event included moderated interactive session with Dr Leela Visaria and Dr Rajani R Ved, co-authors of the book India’s Family Planning Programme: Policies, Practices and Challenges. In discussion, Dr Visaria said, “I think we are overplaying the whole population explosion idea, India’s population will continue to grow, it will touch 1.7 billion before it stabilises. India’s TFR is down to 2.3 and we are not very far from achieving replacement level fertility. Women these days have aspirations, they want smaller families, and while increasing the basket of choice has been a positive step we need to focus on social indicators like increasing the age at marriage and improving access to education”
In keeping with the vision of PFI to position family planning as an important issue in India’s agenda, a short film directed by Feroz Abbas Khan was released. Khan who has been recognised for his work in film and theatre has also been a driving force behind Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, produced by PFI. The film was launched by Dr Sikdar, Deputy Commissioner, Family Planning Ministry of Health and Welfare who stressed on the need to look at population through the lens of the mother and child.