Background The second half of the 20th century experienced the rise of demography as a discipline with huge outpouring of technical aid and resources to curb the population of the developing nations with a special focus on Asia. China and India figured in the imagination of these demographers who believed Neo Malthusian theory of positive checks on population control. The theory of Neo Malthusianism took precedence among senior technocrats, demographers and government officials in the 1950s and 60s. China experienced the peak of Neo Malthusianism with the one-child policy in the late 1970s and India with the Emergency in the early 1970s.
Methods Tracing the conceptual understanding of Neo-Malthusianism which was the theoretical backbone of Ford’s population control programmes, this paper would encompass the historical development of the Family Planning program in independent India and socialist China with a sight on the various important actors involved, the geopolitical context of Ford’s entry, strategies adopted and the implications of Family planning on the health systems.Using archival research, secondary literatures and key informant interviews, this study adopts a qualitative method and aims to study the efforts of the Ford Foundation to promote, advance and institutionalize population control through the Family Planning program in China and India.
Data The study primarily draws on archival data namely government correspondence, memoranda, notes, reports, personal papers of some of the important actors, minutes of meetings, manuscripts of memoirs and autobiographies, reports of committees and commissions, working papers, theses and secondary references. Archival research was conducted at the Rockefeller Archive Centre, Harvard University Archives, Columbia University Ford Foundation collections online. Secondary literatures particularly the writings of John C. Caldwell, Gyan Prakash, Dwight Macdonald, Mohan Rao, Matthew Connelly, Susan Greenhalgh and several others have been consulted. Key informants included Dr. Lincoln Chen and Dr. Shirish Kavadi.
Discussion By the early 1950s, the growing population of China and India became a source of high concern in the west and the eastern elites. Complementary to the voiced concern for growing number of Chinese and Indians, another important precursor of the Ford Foundation efforts was the changing political landscape. The formation of the Marshall plan, India’s action towards curbing population growth in the 1950s and recommendations of the 1948 field trip in the Far East induced Ford’s population control activities and changed the discourse of population health in China and India.
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