Recently, the World Press Freedom Index, 2021 produced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has yet again placed India at 142nd rank out of 180 countries.
About World Press Freedom Index:
• The World Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders, a Paris based NGO, since 2002.
• The index is based upon the organisation’s own assessment of the concerned countries’ press freedom records in the previous year.
• It intends to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country.
• It also considers the efforts made by authorities to respect press freedom.• However it is not an indicator on the quality of journalism.
- The report is partly based on a questionnaire using seven general criteria:
pluralism (measures the degree of representation of opinions in the media space),
environment and self-censorship,
- It also includes violations of the free flow of information on the Internet.
- The questionnaire is sent to Reporters Without Borders’s partner organizations: 18 freedom of expression non-governmental organizations located in five continents, its 150 correspondents around the world and journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists.
- Journalism is completely or partly blocked in 73% of the 180 countries.
- Only 12 of the Index’s 180 countries (7%) can claim to offer a favorable environment for
- Covid-19 pandemic has been used to perfection by nations to control the spread of information.
- The Report has raised concern about the larger Asia-Pacific region as several nations in an attempt to curb freedom of press have in place draconian laws on ‘sedition,’ ‘state secrets’ and ‘national security’.
- Norway has topped yet again for the fifth year in the row, followed by Finland and Denmark.
- Eritrea is at the bottom.
- China is ranked 177 and also remains among the world’s biggest jailer of journalists. More than 120 defenders of press freedom are currently detained in China.
- North Korea is ranked at 179 and Turkmenistan at 178.
- India has been ranked 142nd among 180 countries.
- India was ranked 142 in the year 2020 as well, thus showing no improvement in the environment it provides to its journalists.
- India has fared poorly amongst its neighbors with Nepal at 106, Sri Lanka at 127 and Bhutan at 65. Pakistan is a close follower at 145th spot.
- India is among the countries classified “bad for journalism” and is termed as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their jobs properly.
- The report has blamed an environment of intimidation created by the nationalist government for any critical journalist often brandishing them as anti state or anti national.
- The situation in Kashmir has been termed as worrying, where incidents of harassment of reporters by police and paramilitaries have surfaced.
Reasons behind Decline in India’s Performance:
Journalists are exposed to every kind of attack, including police violence against reporters,
ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local
Pressure on the media to accept the nationalist government’s Hindu line.
The “coordinated hate campaigns” waged on social networks against journalists.
The campaigns are particularly severe when the targets are women.
What is Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF)?
• Reporter Sans Frontieres, also known as Reporters without Borders is an international NGO based out of Paris France.
• It publishes the World Press Freedom Index annually.
• The Reporter Sans Frontieres has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) which is a 54 French speaking nations collective.
• The NGO published the first World Press Freedom Index in 2002 and since then, it annually published the index ranking 180 countries.