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World Press Freedom Index 2021

World Press Freedom Index 2021:

India has ranked 142nd yet again out of 180 nations in the recently unveiled World Press Freedom Index.

  • The index is published each year by the international journalism not-for-profit body, Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

About the World Press Freedom Index:

  • It has been published every year since 2002 by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders.
  • Based in Paris, RSF is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
  • OIF is a 54 french speaking nation’s collective.
  • The Index ranks countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.
  • However, it is not an indicator of the quality of journalism.
  • The parameters include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

Global Scenario:

  • Journalism, the main vaccine against disinformation, is completely or partially blocked in 73% of the 180 countries.
  • Only 12 of the Index’s 180 countries (7%) can claim to offer a favorable environment for journalism.
  • Covid-19 pandemic has been used to perfection by nations to control the spread of information.
  • The Report has raised concern about the larger Asia-Pacific region as several nations in an attempt to curb freedom of the press have in place draconian laws on ‘sedition,’ ‘state secrets’ and ‘national security.
  • Norway has topped yet again for the fifth year in the row, followed by Finland and Denmark.
  • Eritrea is at the bottom meanwhile China is ranked 177 and is only above North Korea at 179 and Turkmenistan at 178.

India’s Performance:

  • India was ranked 142 in the year 2020 as well, thus showing no improvement in the environment it provides to its journalists.
  • India has fared poorly amongst its neighbors with Nepal at 106, Sri Lanka at 127, and Bhutan at 65. Pakistan is a close follower at 145th spot.
  • India is among the countries classified as “bad” for journalism and is termed as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their jobs properly.
  • The report has blamed an environment of intimidation created by the nationalist government for any critical journalist often brandishing them as anti-state or anti-national.
  • The situation is worrying in Kashmir, where incidents of harassment of reporters by police and paramilitaries have surfaced.