India slips to 161st rank in Press Freedom Index 2023
From the 150th spot in 2022, India’s rank has further dipped to 161 in the 2023 edition of the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. This is several spots behind Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have improved their rankings this year to be at positions 150 and 152, respectively.
Countries ranked lower than India include Bangladesh (163), Turkey (165), Saudi Arabia (170) and Iran (177). China and North Korea occupy the last spots at 179 and 180, respectively.
The index was published today, May 3, which is also World Press Freedom Day.
The ranking is based on a country’s performance in five broad categories: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and safety. Of the five, India’s ranking was lowest in the safety of journalists category (172) and best in the social indicator category (143).
While India has ranked consistently low over the past few years, its rank has plunged to the lowest this year. In February last year, the union government said it with the views and country rankings listed in the World Press Freedom Index since it’s published by a “foreign” NGO.
“The violence against journalists, the politically partisan media and the concentration of media ownership all demonstrate that press freedom is in crisis in ‘the world’s largest democracy’, ruled since 2014 by, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the embodiment of the Hindu nationalist right,” the report said.
“Originally a product of the anti-colonial movement, the Indian press used to be seen as fairly progressive but things changed radically in the mid-2010s, when Narendra Modi became prime minister and engineered a spectacular rapprochement between his party, the BJP, and the big families dominating the media. The prime example is undoubtedly the Reliance Industries group led by Mukesh Ambani, now a personal friend of Modi’s, who owns more than 70 media outlets that are followed by at least 800 million Indians. Similarly, the of the NDTV channel at the end of 2022 by tycoon Gautam Adani, who is also very close to Narendra Modi, signalled the end of pluralism in the mainstream media. Very early on, Modi took a critical stance vis-à-vis journalists, seeing them as “intermediaries” polluting the direct relationship between himself and his supporters. Indian journalists who are too critical of the government are subjected to all-out harassment and attack campaigns by Modi devotees known as bhakts.”