Full-page colour advertisements in leading newspapers reminded Indians that "daughters bring joy to life" in a campaign designed to tackle the country's worsening gender imbalance.

Sex-selective abortions and female infanticide have left India with 914 girls for every 1,000 boys, its lowest since independence in 1947 and far below the global average of 1,050 girls for every 1,000 boys, census data shows.

"They fill our lives with smiles. They are capable of doing everything," stated the adverts by the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Friday, featuring a photoshopped picture of the chief minister appearing to hold a girl.

They were released as part of a campaign called "Save Our Girls" which will start on October 5.

Married women in India face huge pressure to produce male heirs who are seen as breadwinners, family leaders and carers for their parents.

Girls are often viewed as a burden in traditional families as they require hefty dowries to be married off.

In the past few decades, successive governments have launched an array of schemes to alter the social bias against girls, including offering cash incentives to expectant parents, but they have had little impact.