On World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hit headlines stating that India’s press freedom ranking fell to 150th out of 180 countries, from 142nd last year. The report stated that India’s position has been consistently falling in the index since 2016 when it was ranked 133. Reacting to these reports the Government informed parliament that they do not agree with the report and they question the method of such a survey. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur wrote a reply in the Rajya Sabha saying, the sample size is very limited and there is no weightage to fundamentals of democracy; he also questioned the report’s non-transparency.
When Afternoon Voice asked Anurag Thakur, he said, “The government has never interfered in the press jobs. Indian media is the most liberal and they have the utmost freedom to speak their opinions. Our Prime minister always said Media should have its voice and they should come up with constructive criticism. I don’t agree with what the report states.”
RSF is an international non-profit and non-governmental organisation that defends the right of every human being to have access to free and reliable information. The 2022 edition of the index assesses the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories, highlighting the “disastrous effects of news and information chaos — the effects of a globalised and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda,” stated Reporters without Borders (RSF).
“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,” RSF’s report on India said. The report describes India as the world’s most dangerous country for the media. Journalists are not safe and exposed to all kinds of physical violence, ambushes by political activities and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials. It also supports Hindutva, the ideology that spawned the Hindu far right, and waged all-out online attacks on any views of their thinking, the report added.
Sudarshan News Channel’s founder editor said, “The pain of the people is that now they are speaking about Hindutva and the justice to Hindus. They refuse to be victims in their own country and they also reject the appeasement policies in the name of secularism. Such agencies are dangerous for our nation and its integrity. It is their deliberate attempt to malign India on a global platform.”
Newspaper Association of India’s general secretary Vipin Gaur said “Tomorrow some agency of India will come up with the report that American journalists do not have press freedom or some other country. They might say when it comes to Press freedom Indian media is number one. the question is who are these agencies? What is the basis of their reports? How many Indian media houses or journalists have participated in such a survey?”