Politics of Population Control and Family Planning Measures in Developing World

Population is one of the concrete basis of politics (Leroy, 1978). For human resource and other planning, for the allocation of representatives and for administrative purposes including taxation and conscription, Population and related information are essential. Studies of the inter relation between Population and development and the use of estimates and projections of Population and its characteristics for policy formulation and action programmes are well recognized. A new role, which has not been well studied or documented, is the use of diverse Population aspects as political tools in various forms at local, national and international levels (Ramachandran, 2001).The world population increased from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion by 1999, a doubling that occurred over 40 years. The Census Bureau's latest projections imply that population growth will continue into the 21st century, although more slowly. The world population is projected to grow from 6 billion in 1999 to 9 billion by 2042, an increase of 50 percent that will require 43 years. The world population growth rate rose from about 1.5 percent per year from 1950-51 to a peak of over 2 percent in the early 1960s due to reductions in mortality (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). Growth rates thereafter started to decline due to rising age at marriage as well as increasing availability and use of effective contraceptive methods. Note that changes in population growth have not always been steady. Family planning program in various countries tries to lower world population growth rate.

Recent (2005-2007) estimates of Bangladesh's population range from 142 to 159 million, making it the 7th most populous nation in the world. With a land area of 144,000 square kilometers, ranked 94th), the population density is remarkable. A striking comparison is offered by the fact that Russia's population is slightly smaller. Indeed Bangladesh has the highest population density in the world, excluding a handful of city-states. Bangladesh's population growth was among the highest in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, when the count grew from 50 to 90 million, but with the promotion of birth control in the 1980s, the growth rate slowed and family planning program has made this progress. The total fertility rate is now 3.1 children per woman, compared with 6.2 thirty years ago. The population is relatively young, with the 0–25 age group comprising 60%, while 3% are 65 or older. Life expectancy is 63 years for both males and females (World Health Report, 2005). This is the result of population control and family planning program of Bangladesh. But we always find that this population control program is also related with world politics and domination.Representatives of developing nations who participated in the United Nations world population conference at Cairo were incessantly urged to extend "birth-spacing" services and "family planning" education to all couples of reproductive age. Such activities are fundamental to the orderly development of the Southern hemisphere, conference organizers repeatedly insisted. But birth control programs and population policies have little relationship to health and development and a great deal to do with global power politics, says a book published by the Washington-based Information Project for Africa. Inc. The book, Excessive Force: Power. Politics and Population Control documents the involvement of "secret" branches of the U.S. government in elevating population control to a top priority for the west. And it suggests that, despite agreements from officials of developing nations to comply, population projects are likely to fail in many of the most important countries in the south. Since the start of the 20th Century, the book explains, birthrates in the industrialized world have fallen to levels that are the lowest anywhere in all history. At the same time, fertility has stayed high in much of the developing world. This, it says, means that "the constituency of the world is likely to change in ways that are difficult to imagine." So, we find that there are always some kinds of politics regarding population control and family planning program and this is the main topic of this paper. This paper documents several typical situations where Population and related aspects become tools in the hands of individuals, societies, countries and organizations in pursuit of their agendas to establish their viewpoints and motives and thereby exploit the situation. The other side of the picture is where politics plays a part in Population related variables.

Definition of Population, Politics and Family Planning:

The word population has different meanings. Every species in nature is composed of smaller units called population. A population is a group of individual organisms of the same species that interbreed and that occupy a given area at a given time. The Webster dictionary defines population as “the whole number of population of inhabitants in a country sector or area”. The population of an area may be defined as “ The instrumented number of people, who on the occasion of an actual count were found to be in a given area, whether this was in some cases accidental or not”. Lawson and Garrod define population as ‘the number of residents of a defined geographical area’. Actually’ for the purpose of illustration, it is helpful to consider a population, originally small, living in a restricted natural environment.


Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions on who gets what. The term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. Politics consists of social relations involving authority or power and refers to the regulation of a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy. Politics has been defined in many ways. According to Heywood, politics is-

'The activity through which people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live' (Heywood 1997: 410).

Family Planning:

Family Planning implies the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility.
Source: Working definition used by the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research. 
1.3World Population:

The world population is the total number of human beings alive on the planet Earth at a given time. According to estimates published by the United States Census (USCB), the world population hit 6.5 billion (6500000000) on February 25, 2007, at 7:16 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. On October 18, 2012 at 4:36 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the Earth will be home to 7 billion. The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) designated October 12, 1999 as the approximate day on which world population reach 6 billion in 1987. In 2007, the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) projected that the world’s population will likely surpass 9 billion in 2050.

Politics of Population Control and Family Planning Measures in Developing World:

All types of societies practice some sort of birth control. Bangladesh is no exception. Neither are the societies in Africa, Latin America or any country in Asia. People practiced birth control like coitus interruptus, abstinence, moral restraint, or indigeneous method of abortion for generations. These birth control practices served the particular need specific to a certain phase of social development of the individual and their families and consequently the need of the society in general. The social norm and reproductive behavior correspond to these needs. This fact is known to ethnographers for long but it is unknown to the uneducated intellect of the West exposed heavily to the propaganda of population controllers and for population explosion theorists. Due to this unhealthy exposure an image has been successfully constituted in the West that “overpopulated” societies are over populous because they breed like animal. A vegetative non-human existence has been continuously projected. The poverty and under development in the third world societies are explained by their inert thing-like reproductive behavior: they are poor, because they breed too many. Horrifyingly, the west has noticed that these animals are breeding unknowingly to the extent of exploding the global availability of subsistence.

The reasons that population control is being practiced in all third world countries are mostly that of the fear of taking over the majority of poor over the rich minority both at national and international level, the fear of taking over the black majority over the white minority and the fear of taking over the working class over the bourgeoisie class. The resource distribution in the world is uneven and now the developed nations seem to be worried about the fact that they do not have enough people to enjoy their resources. They are found to be selectively encouraging an increase in their own countries, and among the whites in countries like Africa. This shows that the issue of populations control is selective and is because the developed nations do not want to redistribute the resources through improving the international economic relations between the countries and through changes in the social and economic structure within the countries, they resort to limit the number of future revolutionaries.