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.

Parameters used:

  • The report is partly based on a questionnaire using seven general criteria:
          pluralism (measures the degree of representation of opinions in the media space),
          media independence,
          environment and self-censorship,
          legislative framework,
          transparency,
          infrastructure, and
          abuses.
  • 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.

Global Scenario

  • 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.

Indian Scenario

  • 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.

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