About the World Press Freedom Index
The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) based upon the organisation’s own assessment of the countries’ press freedom records in the previous year.
It intends to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.
It is important to note that the index only deals with press freedom and does not measure the quality of journalism nor does it look at human rights violations in general.
Where does India stand?
Unfortunately, India ranks a lowly 136 on the list consisting of 180 countries. Slipping down three ranks this time, in 2016, India ranked at 133.
Among India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan ranks 139, Sri Lanka at 141, Afghanistan at 120, Bangladesh at 146, Nepal at 100, Bhutan at 84 and China is ranked at 176.
The list of top 10 countries with highest press freedom rating:
- Costa Rica
May 3 as the World Press Freedom Day and its importance
The United Nations General Assembly recognises May 3 as the World Press Freedom Day. This is to remind the democratic governments all over the world that the freedom of expression and hence the freedom of Press is imperative for an elected body.
In a democratic society, Press acts as a mediator between the masses and the elected representatives. It has the potential to keep a check on the powers of the state, and at the same time it acts as a report card of the government in power. Without the freedom of Press, the state gains control over the perception of the masses.
Comment on India’s dismal ranking
India has slipped to 136 out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders – placing it in the same category as nations such as Myanmar, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Palestine, the Philippines and South Sudan.
Reporters Without Borders points out many journalists in India are now exercising an unparalleled level of self censorship in the world’s largest democracy. It adds that journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals.
It is important to realize that a free and independent media is essential in a healthy democracy – where questions must be asked, issues should be debates and policies are required to constantly evolve. Not only the Government but the a society as a whole has this responsibility to make every opinion matter and every voice count in the world’s largest democracy.