Mohan Rao is Professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. A medical doctor specialised in public health, he has written extensively on the history and politics of health and population. He has also been closely associated with the women's movements and health movements in the country. He is the author of From Population Control to Reproductive Health: Malthusian Arithmetic (2004), has edited Disinvesting in Health: The World Bank's Prescriptions (1999) and The Unheard Scream: Reproductive Health and Women's Lives in India (2004) and co-edited Markets and Malthus: Population, Gender and Health in Neo-liberal Times (with Sarah Sextor, 2010) and Public Health and Private Wealth: Stem Cells, Surrogates and Other Strategic Bodies (with Sarah Hodges, 2016).
'Ably selected by Dr Mohan Rao, this collection of documents on India's population policies is a valuable resource for scholars, policymakers and public health and reproductive rights advocates. Rao's introduction provides important historical analysis and context for understanding how the technocratic, neo-Malthusian drive to reduce birth rates has for decades negatively affected the provision of family planning and primary health care services in India. In the name of national development, it has often deepened caste, class, religious, regional and gender inequalities. The volume also includes documents from the women's health movement that point to the long history of popular resistance to coercive population control. In shedding light on what has gone wrong, The Lineaments of Population Policy in India encourages readers to think about what a genuine reform of Indian population policy would look like.' Betsy Hartmann, Professor Emerita of Development Studies and Senior Policy Analyst of the Population and Development Program, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, USA, and author of Reproductive Rights and Wrongs (1987) 'This is an important archive of original documents that maps the manner in which the colonial state in India before 1947, and then the post colonial state thereafter, has constructed the population question in India in Malthusian terms over more than 150 years. A reading of the documents that Mohan Rao has assembled shows that beginning with the eugenics concerns of the state and going on to the highly repressive excesses of the post independent Indian state during the emergency, women and men have been regarded as rebellious subjects that must be kept in order even if excesses are required to deal with what is constructed as the population bomb that is ticking away and will explode any moment. What is critical is that such an approach has skewed what is, or should be, the primary responsibility of the state-- that of providing health care to all its citizens. The careful selection of documents makes evident that poor women have been regarded as enemies of the nation and, in the name of population control, women's bodies have been subjected to irresponsible and even invasive techniques that have led to campaigns by feminists and others in the democratic health movement against such a callous attitude displayed by the state. The documents also reveal that ideologies of discipline and punish that have driven state action have met with resistance leading to some change of strategies and a growing demand for a more sensitive and acceptable population policy that does not exacerbate the class and gender inequalities in our society.' Uma Chakravarti, historian and women's rights activist based in India