Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed concern over “population explosion” in the country and said that the central and state governments should launch measures to deal with the matter.

“Today from Red Fort, I want to highlight another important issue: population explosion,” Modi said in his address to the nation on India’s 73rd Independence Day. “Before a child is born in our home, we must ask if we have prepared ourselves to fulfil the child’s needs, or are we going to leave the child in the hands of the society and to its fate? No parent can be like that who keeps bringing children to the world but forcing them to lead such lives. Social awareness is needed on this.”

“Population explosion can lead to problems for us in the future,” Modi said. “But there is a small, educated, aware class that acknowledges this problem and which stops to think before bringing a child to the world, whether they can do justice to the child, give them all that she or he wants. They deserve respect.”

“Keeping your family small is also a form of patriotism,” he added, PTI reported.

The prime minister said citizens of the country need to understand that development and prosperity begins only when individuals are healthy and resourceful. He asked everyone to contribute in the process as there are so many illnesses in the country that efforts cannot just be at the government level.

India has a population of 1.3 billion and is on the verge of surpassing China as the world’s most populous country.