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World Press Freedom Index 

Prelims – Polity, Mains -GS2- Polity

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), covering 180 countries and territories was released recently.

Which are issues highlighted by the report?

1. Journalists are facing heightened threats around the globe.

2. The number of countries regarded as safe for journalists is on the decline.

3. Hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence in many places including in India.

What does the report say about India?  

1. In 2018, at least six Indian journalists were killed in the line of their work.

2. India’s rank has been falling.  

Year

India’s Rank

2019

140

2018

138

2017

136

2016

133

3. The report notes that organized campaigns by supporters of Hindutva to purify all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate are putting journalists in danger, particularly women journalist.

4. Covering sensitive but important topics of public interest such as separatism in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoist insurgency has become more difficult. 

5. Authorities use sedition laws against journalists, who also face the wrath of militants and criminal gangs.

6. The Centre and several State governments have shown extreme intolerance towards objective and critical reporting and also took unprecedented measures to restrict journalism. 

7. The Finance Minister’s recent order barring credentialed reporters from the Ministry’s premises is an example of government restricting journalism.

8. There is a systematic attempt to limit the scope of journalism in India through physical restrictions, denial of information and hostile rhetoric against journalists by senior government functionaries. 

How the government should respond?

1. The government is unlikely to take the RSF report seriously.

2. Expression of concern by foreign countries or global bodies regarding human rights, religious violence or media freedom is routinely dismissed as external interference in India’s sovereignty.

3. In a globalized world these perceptions matter which is visible in the government’s pursuit to improve India’s position in the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business ranking.

4. India should also seriously look at its standing as a democratic, pluralist country with a free and dynamic press. 

5. That is not so much for the inflow of investment or luring global corporations, which may care little about a destination country's democratic credentials but for India’s well-being.

Source: The Hindu