India was the first country in the world to implement a national family planning programme that over time, expanded so much that it sidelined not only maternal and child health but all other health programmes. The fear of a population explosion ensured that fertility control became the core of health care planning. Family planning targets were set and enthusiastically implemented. Alongside, health care infrastructure and manpower increased tremendously, particularly during the last three decades. Despite this, the population continued to grow and there was no improvement in maternal health. Recent years provide evidence that maternal mortality has not gone down and infant mortality has remained stable.
The ICPD brought a new perspective and new hope to the proponents of population stabilisation and primary health care. A rights-based development approach was adopted and the RCH programme was launched afresh on the basis of new concepts. This study aims to evaluate the progress, if any, of this new approach and to monitor the achievements and shortfalls in the Indian Government’s commitments to the ICPD agenda.