India ranks below Pakistan at 159 among 180 countries in World Press Freedom Index: ’Unofficial state of emergency’

World Press Freedom Index: In its analysis, the Reporters Without Borders claimed that “press freedom is in crisis in ‘the world’s largest democracy’” – that is India, which has been ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since 2014.

Written By Akriti Anand
Updated3 May 2024
World Press Freedom Index: Pakistan ranked seven spots above India at 152.
World Press Freedom Index: Pakistan ranked seven spots above India at 152.

India ranked 159 among 180 countries in the latest annual World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF, short for Reporters sans frontières in French), an international non-profit organization. India had ranked 161 in the 2023 list.

ALSO READ: India slips 11 positions on World Press Freedom Index

Meanwhile, Pakistan ranked seven spots above India at 152. It had ranked 150 in 2023. Norway topped the ranking , while Denmark was on the second rank in World Press Freedom Index. Sweden ranked third on the list.

'Press freedom is in crisis'

In its analysis, the RSF claimed that "press freedom is in crisis in 'the world’s largest democracy' – that is India, which has been ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since 2014.

As per the report, nine journalists and one media worker have been detained in India as of today, while no journalist/media worker has been killed in the country since January 2024.

'Draconian laws'

The report added that some countries’ improved rankings in the Index "are misleading inasmuch as their scores fell and the Index rises were the result of falls by countries previously above them".

"This is the case with India (159th), which was pushed up two places despite recently adopting more draconian laws," the report said. It said the Modi govt "has introduced several new laws that will give the government extraordinary power to control the media, censor news and silence critics, including the 2023 Telecommunications Act, the 2023 draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, and the 2023 Digital Personal Data Protection Act".

'…unofficial state of emergency'

The RSF's analysis mentioned that India’s media has fallen into an “unofficial state of emergency” since PM Modi came to power in 2014 and "engineered a spectacular rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families dominating the media".

It cited an example, reporting that "Reliance Industries group’s magnate Mukesh Ambani...owns more than 70 media outlets that are followed by at least 800 million Indians."

Harassment to journalists

The report said journalists, "who are critical of the government are routinely subjected to online harassment, intimidation, threats and physical attacks, as well as criminal prosecutions and arbitrary arrests".

"The situation is also remains very worrisome in Kashmir, where reporters are often harassed by police and paramilitaries, with some being subjected to so-called “provisional” detention for several years," the RSF's analysis added.

Not just India, the RSF noted that "the press freedom situation has worsened in the Asia-Pacific region, where 26 of the 32 countries and territories have seen their scores fall in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index."

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