India ranks 150th in the World Press Freedom Index


India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has fallen down to 150th position from last year’s 142nd rank out of 180 countries, according to a report by a global media watchdog released on 3 May 2022. On the World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders and nine other human rights organisations asked Indian authorities to stop targeting journalists and online critics for their work, the international non-profit organisation said in a statement on its website. More specifically, they should stop prosecuting them under counterterrorism and sedition laws. ‘‘The authorities’ targeting of journalists coupled with a broader crackdown on dissent has emboldened Hindu nationalists to threaten, harass and abuse journalists critical of the Indian government, both online and offline, with impunity,’’ it said. The ‘Reporters sans Frontiers’ (RSF) said: ‘‘The authorities should also conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into allegations of threats and attacks targeting journalists and critics, including from government officials… journalists should not have to risk their freedom and their lives to do their work.’’
It bears recall that when India was ranked 142 in this index last year, the BJP-led Indian government disagreed with stating that the ranking was done based on ‘‘very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent, lack of clear definition of press freedom etc.’’ But the government has not yet provided credible evidence in favour of its disapproval. According to a media report, under the Modi government, the ongoing assault on media freedom takes multiple forms like arrest and imprisonment of journalists, filing fake cases, use of intrusive surveillance against them, physically assaulting and intimidating them, banning media houses on charges of sedition, rendering the Press Council of India ineffective etc. (Source: Hindustan Times-09-02-22, 04-05-22, The Wire 03-05-22)

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