Modi told a largely female audience in Haryana — the state with the lowest ratio of female to male births — that they must resist pressure from family and society to abort girls.
“The prime minister of the country is begging you to save the lives of girls,” Modi said as he launched a campaign entitled “Save your daughters, Educate your daughters”.
“We have to change our thinking and stop believing that boys are superior to girls.
“We should change our mentality. We have to urgently create a balance in the sex ratio to bring stability or face the consequences.”
Modi also urged doctors to stop performing gender-based abortions and instead use their skills to save lives.
Female foeticide is common in India, particularly in rural areas, where many parents still prefer sons to carry on the family name.
Last year the United Nations warned that the gender imbalance in the country had reached emergency proportions.
The government has identified 100 districts where there are only between 837 and 875 girls born per 1,000 boys, a gender imbalance it deems alarming.
Pre-natal sex determination is illegal in India and carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Nevertheless, a 2011 study in the British medical journal The Lancet found that up to 12 million Indian girls had been aborted over the last three decades in India. -AFP