General Studies II

World Press Freedom index


The World Press Freedom Index 2021 has been released by the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

  1. Norway topped the index for the fifth year in a row.
  2. The report labelled 132 countries as “very bad”, “bad” or “problematic”.
  3. It stated that the pandemic was used as means to deny journalists this access and promote government sponsored propaganda regarding the Covid-19 outbreak.

Key Highlights:

  • India has not slipped further on the World Press Freedom Index 2021 published by the international journalism not-for profit body, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • India continues to be counted among the countries classified “bad” for journalism and is termed as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their jobs properly.
  • India is ranked 142, same as last year, after it had consistently slid down from 133 in 2016.
  • In the South Asian neighborhood, Nepal is at 106, Sri Lanka at 127, Myanmar (before the coup) at 140, Pakistan at 145 and Bangladesh at 152.
  • Norway again topped amongst 180 countries followed by Finland and Denmark.
  • While Eritrea is at the bottom. China is ranked 177, and is only above North Korea at 179 and Turkmenistan at 178.
  • The report released on Tuesday stated that India shares the “bad” classification with Brazil, Mexico and Russia.

Reasons Behind India’s Poor Performance:

  • Journalists are exposed to every kind of attack, including police violence against reporters, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.
  • The journalists have often been subjected to coordinated hate campaigns on social networks.
    • Such campaigns are particularly violent when the targets are women.

Global Scenario:

  • Journalism, the main vaccine against disinformation, is completely or partly blocked in 73% of the 180 countries.
  • Only 12 of the Index’s 180 countries (7%) can claim to offer a favourable 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 press have in place draconian laws on ‘sedition,’ ‘state secrets’ and ‘national security’.

About Press Freedom Index

  • The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries.
  • RSF has developed an online questionnaire with 87 questions linked to one of the six following indicators:
    • Pluralism
    • Media independence
    • Environment and self-censorship
    • Legislative framework
    • Transparency
    • Infrastructure
    • Abuses
  • Ever since the 2013 index, countries have been given scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 being the best possible score and 100 the worst.
  • RSF calculates two scores. The first, ScoA, is based on the first six of the seven indicators listed above. The second, ScoB, combines the first six indicators with the seventh (abuses). A country’s final score is the greater of these two scores. This method prevents an inappropriately low score (high ranking) being given to a country where few or no acts of violence against journalists take place because the provision of news and information is tightly controlled.

Article in Constitution:

  • The Constitution, the supreme law of the land, guarantees freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, which deals with ‘Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.
  • Freedom of press is not expressly protected by Indian legal system but it is impliedly protected under article 19(1) (a)of the constitution, which states – “All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”.
  • However, Freedom of press is also not absolute. It faces certain restrictions under Article 19(2), which are as follows-
  • 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 offence.

Supreme Court:

In 1950, the Supreme Court in Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras observed that freedom of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations.


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