Jhunjhunu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that female foeticide was a matter of "deep shame" and mothers-in-law should take the lead to protect the girl child.
The prime minister was in Rajasthan to launch the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) and announce the expansion of the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' programme.
"Everyone is equal. It is important that girls get access to quality education, just like boys. A daughter is not a burden. Look around us, see how girls are bringing pride and glory to our nation," Modi said on International Women's Day.
The prime minister also pitched for treating daughters and sons equally.
"There is no question of discrimination against daughters. Beti bojh nahi, poore parivaar ki aan, baan aur shaan hai (daughters are not a burden, but the pride of a family), and it is equally important to provide proper nutrition to children," he said in Jhunjhunu, which has India's largest temple devoted to Rani Sati.
Modi asked the people of India to pledge to create an atmosphere of equality for the girl child and to end gender-based discrimination in the country.
He highlighted the vitality of proper nutrition among children and also spoke on how Mission Indradhanush, a national immunisation programme, had brought about positive change in the lives of children and women.
The 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' programme was expanded from the existing 161 to 640 districts of the country.
Modi said that there was a need to transform the lives of women and harness 'nari shakti (women power)' to create a New India.
"From classroom to sports, they shine everywhere. Today, let us pledge to create an atmosphere of equality for the girl child. There is no question of any discrimination based on gender," the prime minister said.
He also called for the eradication of female foeticide from the country.
"Female foeticide is a matter of deep shame and a cause of great concern. Let us work together to remove this menace from society," Modi said.
"We have no right to call ourselves 21st-century citizens as long as we have an 18th-century mindset," he said.
Calling for an end to discrimination between sons and daughters, Modi said this was key to ending female foeticide.