Times of India on the 3ICPP

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May 9, 2011, 9:14 a.m. (view history)

"Exactly seventeen years ago Miss Margaret Sanger was last in India to attend a meeting of the All-India Women's Conference and in the course of her visit has a memorable meeting with Gandhiji when the vexed problem of family planning was discussed by both of them. The result? Neither of them managed to convince the other but both parted on the friendliest terms. Miss Sanger tells me that she has many happy memories of her talks with one whose unique position and personality left a lasting impression on her mind. This time Miss Sanger has been leading the American contingent in the deliberations of the Planned Parenthood Confernce. She tells me that she hopes to leave early next week and is keen to get back to New York where there will be a Christmas reunion to welcome the youngest arrival in their family--a bonny granddaughter.

"Mrs. Freda Laski has been telling me about the imminent formation of the Laski Society which is hoped will be a living memorial to the memory of her late husband, Prof. Harold J. Laski. At the present moment not only is it hoped to institute lectures, but also to publish Fabian studies which will be collected together in a Laski Volume to be issues annually. This is her first visit to India and she tells me that she has been struck by the remarkable number of her husband's ex-pupils whom she comes across. In London these days, Mrs. Laski works a rigorous schedule as a J. P. and as Vice-Chairman of a Rent Tribunal for Southwest London. She is also Governor of four different kinds of schools and the member of a juvenile court. Incidentally, few persons have done so much to help the cause of overseas students in Great Britain and fight the insidious colour bar. Mrs. Laski tells me that one of the dominant impressions of her first visit to India which she will carry away is the sense of satisfaction at having been in a truly secular state."

Nehru told the 3ICPP "that whatever might be the views of individuals on this question 'it seems to me clear that we should give it the fullest consideration from all points of view.'

'The approach should be scientific and the aim social good.' he said. 'Any scientific approach must not be inhibited by preconceptions or convictions,' while at the same time its psychological and other reactions on human beings must necessarily be kept in view."

"'The Government of  India has an open mind on this subject and does not wish any discussion or consideration of it to be limited finally to any special approach, although it may encourage experiments of a particular type."

Says that while he things that it would be desirable to reduce India's populations, he does not think that all their social and economic problems come from overpopulation, and reducing population will not cure all their problems alone.

Reports remarks of G.N. Desai, mayor of Bombay at a "civic reception given to delegates of the conference at the Pherizeshah Mehta Gardens on Tuesday. (the 25th). "Prominent politicians and thinkers had given their verdict in favour of family planning and it was admitted that it has a vital role to play in economic and social regeneration, he said, adding that the Bombay Municipal Corporation had already realised the necessity of family planning and had started a number of clinics where advice was given free of charge.

"Dr. Margaret Sanger, replying on behalf of the guests, said that Bombay was the wisest choice that could have been made for holding the conference. She paid tribute to Mrs. Rama Rau, whose enthusiasm and charm had contributed to the decision to hold the conference in Bombay. Mrs. Rama Rau said that Bombay had taken a lead in family planning in India and deserved the honour conferred on it by the international conference."

Discusses the upcoming conference which will consider "ways and means of checking the steep rise in the birth-rate in India," featuring experts from Europe and America" in a training program for "men and women to popularise the idea of family planning in this country." Rama Rau announces that "most of the countries in the world were evincing keen interest in the conference."

Notes the $5K contribution from the Watumull Foundation and the Rs. 4K contribution from the Tata Trust to the Bombay clinic. The Tata Industries also "reserved for the organisers a spacious wing in the Green's Hotel for the office of the conference which will last till December 1."

Vera Houghton of the ICPP is now in Bombay, helping the organisers.

"The 500 delegates to the 16-nation conference lustily cheered Miss Margaret Sanger (U.S.A.) and Mrs. Dhanvanthi Rama Rau (India) as they were unanimously elected Honorary Presidents of the new world organisation to further the 'magnitudinous and delicate' cause of family planning."

London will be the headquarters, where the International Committee on Planned Parenthood "converted itself into a world federation at the Bombay conference." There will be 3 regional headquarters, India, New York, and London. They will make more as countries in the Mediterranean, Latin America and the West Pacific join. Talks about the meetings precedng it, 1946 Stockholm, 1948 in Cheltenham.  They announced the new name IPPF. 

"Paying a tribute to Mrs. Sanger, Dr. Abraham Stone stated that the seeds sown by that 'great lady' in 1912 had today grown into a big tree with branches all over the world. She had not yet lost the vision, vigour, enthusiasm and courage which first stimulated her to take up the work to which she has devoted her life, Dr. Stone said.  'England gave Malthus to the world and the United States have given Miss Sanger. In India also there are equally eminent personalities like Mr. Nehru, Dr. Radhakrishnan and Mrs. Rama Rau. I have no doubt that very soon India will lead the world in planned parenthood work and that the international headquarters of the Federation will be located in this country."

Mrs. Sanger was certain that India would be one of the great living forces of the future and that at one stage she had even suggested that India should be the international headquarters of the Federation. But, as it was pointed out, that India was just making a beginning in the direction and that entrusting her with international responsibility in regard to the work of family planning at the moment would not be advisable, she had reconciled herself to retaining London as the international headquarters but added that very soon India was bound to take world leadership in the future.

Rama Rau, in thanking the conference for electing her, "referred to Miss Sanger as the main source of inspiration for India to have so readily responded to the suggestion of inviting foreign delegates to hold the third planned parenthood conference in Bombay. She said that in extending that invitation, India was not only keen in knowing what was happening in the world in regard to family planning but also interested in proving that family planning had a great appeal among the people in India also."

Radhakrishnan addressed the 3ICPP on Monday telling that there was "neither an ethical nor spiritual ban to birth control, if the object was social welfare." It is cruel to subject women to frequent child-birth. "India has never regarded sex as something impious or obscene. It was the duty, normally speaking, of your students, when they left the university, to marry, the main purpose of which was the production of children. Those who avoided having children for personal reasons, reasons of comfort, and independent life were not encouraged."

Notes that safeguarding the health and happiness of family life requires that children should be planned and spaced. Would reduce infant, maternal welfare, and "it was essential for social welfare."

Quotes: "If God has given us intelligence, He has give it to be used."  Says all knowledge is a double-edged weapon, can be used for good or ill. "If it was employed for preserving health and happiness, for social and economic reasons, it could not be banned." 

Rama Rau, president of the FPA India, said that the Bombay session "was to her a 'dream come true'." 

MS gave the organizers a check for $2,500 "collected in her hometown in Arizona to help research in India. Mrs. Ellen Watumull, who secured a donation of 5,000 for the Family Planning Association  of India, expressed her admiration for the serious effort being made in India to interest the people of this country in planned parenthood."