On 3rd May, World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), the twentieth edition of the World Press Freedom Index was published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). India ranked 150th among the 180 nations.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following the suggestion of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. The day additionally denotes the 1991 Windhoek Declaration (embraced by UNESCO). It aimed toward the “development of a free, independent and pluralistic press”.
World Press Freedom Index: It has been published consistently starting around 2002 by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders.
The Index positions nations and areas as per the degree of opportunity accessible to writers. Notwithstanding, it’s anything but a marker on the nature of news-casting.
The Index’s rankings depend on a score going from 0 to 100 that is allocated to every nation or domain, with 100 being the most ideal score (the most elevated conceivable degree of press opportunity) and 0 just plain terrible.
Every nation or domain’s score is assessed using five contextual indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and safety.
The report reveals a two-fold increase in “polarization” amplified by information chaos, that is, media polarization fueling divisions within countries, as well as polarization between countries at the international level.
The Index was topped by Norway, followed by Denmark and Sweden. North Korea retained the last spot. India dropped to the 150th rank this year from 142 in the last. India’s position has been consistently falling in the index since 2016 when it was ranked 133.
The reasons behind the fall in the ranking are the increased “violence against journalists” and a “politically partisan media”. As indicated by the record the media in India, among countries presumed to be more equitable, faces tension from “progressively tyrant and additionally patriot states”.
Although the policy framework is protective in theory, it resorts to using defamation, sedition, contempt of court, and endangering national security against journalists critical of the government, branding them as “anti-national.”
As per the report, India is likewise one of the world’s most hazardous nations for media people. Writers are presented with a wide range of actual brutality including police viciousness, ambushes by political activists, and lethal responses by criminal gatherings or degenerate nearby authorities.
Although, the freedom of the press is not expressly protected by the Indian legal system it is impliedly protected under Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution which states that all citizens shall have the freedom of speech and expression. However, this right is not absolute and faces some restrictions viz., matters related to interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense.
The role of media in today’s time is important as it’ll help to maintain checks on the ruling government, and keep people aware of its policies and actions. However, the nexus between the media and the government, and the media’s agenda against the government can mislead the masses to believe anything whose only source of news is the news channels.
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