The 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked India 142 among 180 countries on the Index. The report has categorized India as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly.
According to the report, In 2020, the Indian government took advantage of the coronavirus crisis to control news coverage by prosecuting journalists providing information at variance with the official position.
Elaborating further on the reason for categorizing India as a dangerous country for journalists, the report stated, With four journalists killed in connection with their work in 2020, India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job correctly. They 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 officials.
The report has further called out Prime Minister Narendra Modi government for tightening the grip on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line.
“Ever since the general elections in the spring of 2019, won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, pressure has increased on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line. Indians who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to radical right-wing Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the public debate. The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva followers are terrifying and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered, ” observes the report.
Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fifth year running even though its media have complained of a lack of access to state-held information about the pandemic. Finland maintained its position in second place while Sweden (up to one at 3rd) recovered its third-place ranking, which yielded to Denmark (down one at 4th) last year.
This year’s Index, which evaluates the press freedom situation in 180 countries and territories annually, shows that journalism, journalism, which is arguably the best vaccine against the virus of disinformation, is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others, which together represent 73% of the countries evaluated. These countries are classified as having “very bad,” “bad” or “problematic” environments for press freedom, and are identified accordingly in black, red, or orange on the World Press Freedom map, states the report.