Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

India Falls Eight Spots to Rank 150 on World Press Freedom Index

The position is out of 180 countries ranked by international organisation Reporters Without Borders
May 4, 2022
A demonstration for free press in front of the Bangladesh HIgh commission in London in 2013. Photo credit: Wikimedia

India’s ranking slipped eight spots to 150 in the 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index, published by the international organisation Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), on May 3, Tuesday.

The index assesses the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories. It highlights the disastrous effects of news and information chaos – the effects of a globalised and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda.

Pakistan has been ranked 157 and China 175, while Norway has ranked 1.

India ranked 142 in 2020 and 2021 on the index. Its ranking fell from 133 in 2016 to 150 in 2021.

The World Press Freedom Index highlights the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations and netizens have in each country, and the government’s efforts to respect such freedom.

In the 2021 report, India was listed under countries considered “bad” for journalism and among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

“The violence against journalists, the politically partisan media and the concentration of media ownership all demonstrate that press freedom is in crisis in “the world’s largest democracy”, ruled since 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the embodiment of the Hindu nationalist right,” the 2022 report said.

It further said, “Originally a product of the anti-colonial movement, the Indian press used to be seen as fairly progressive but things changed radically in the mid-2010s, when Narendra Modi became prime minister and engineered a spectacular rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families dominating the media. The prime example is undoubtedly the Reliance Industries group led by Mukesh Ambani, now a personal friend of Modi’s, who owns more than 70 media outlets that are followed by at least 800 million Indians.”

The report also underlined how “under the guise of combatting COVID-19, the government and its supporters waged a guerrilla war of lawsuits against media outlets whose coverage of the pandemic contradicted official statements”.