India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries, according to the latest report released by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In comparison, Pakistan has fared better when it comes to media freedom as it was placed at 150, an improvement from last year’s 157th rank. In 2022, India was ranked at 150.
Sri Lanka also made significant improvement on the index, ranking 135th this year as against 146th in 2022
Norway, Ireland and Denmark occupied the top three positions in press freedom, while Vietnam, China and North Korea constituted the bottom three.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) comes out with a global ranking of press freedom every year. RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. Headquartered in Paris, it has consultative status with the United Nations. The objective of the World Press Freedom Index, which it releases every year, “is to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories” in the previous calendar year.
RSF defines press freedom as “the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.”
The Indian Women's Press Corps, the Press Club of India, and the Press Association released a joint statement voicing their concern over the country's dip in the index.
"The indices of press freedom have worsened in several countries, including India, according to the latest RSF report," the joint statement said.
"For developing democracies in the Global South where deep pockets of inequities exist, the media's role cannot be understated. Likewise the constraints on press freedom due to hostile working conditions like contractorisation have to also be challenged. Insecure working conditions can never contribute to a free press," it added.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor too, commented on the embarrassing development.
"Time for all of us to hang our heads in shame: India slips in World Press Freedom Index, ranks 161 out of 180 countries," he wrote on Twitter.