While studying for five months in Pune, India in 2004, I researched current issues in Indian family planning/welfare. Focusing on government programs, historical background, problems/
controversies in the field (cultural, moral, etc.), and the larger context of population studies, I tried to develop a broad understanding of the current state of family welfare in India. Through interviews with doctors and nurses from the Pune clinic of the nation-wide Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), local sex educators, and general Indian citizens, I was able to use specific opinions and stories to highlight issues that might have otherwise been overlooked in the midst of the large amount of textbook research and statistical analyses I undertook. My research culminated in a comprehensive paper, reviewed by the ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) India Studies staff and a local family welfare activist. My final paper included a general survey of family welfare issues, techniques, and trends, and also featured my humble analysis of government policies and programs in these areas. My findings point to the importance of: realizing the hazards ahead for a society that has a quickly-growing discrepancy in the male-to-female ratio; encouraging, but not requiring by government mandate, a “twochild- norm”; including current feminist critiques when discussing “population issues” at large; and carefully considering the reasons for the huge successes in family planning in the southern Indian state of Kerala (such reasons largely being highly-developed social programs). Although I feel like my studies in this area have only just begun, I feel that I was able to develop a general and important understanding of how family welfare issues are playing out in India today.
Jeanne Firth, ’06 Leawood, KS
Sponsor: Mark Hunter