India three points down to 136 in World Press Freedom Index

Updated - May 03, 2017 08:59 pm IST

Published - May 03, 2017 10:42 am IST

India is ranked 136 in the World Press Freedom Index, three points down from last year. Norway is at the apex and North Korea at the bottom of the 180-strong list of nations.

Released annually by Reporters Without Borders, the Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. Till date, eight journalists have lost their lives while reporting conflicts, and 193 journalists are lodged in jails worldwide.

On the whole, the world has become a darker space for journalists, going by the Index map. “A total of 21 countries are now colored black on the press freedom map because the situation there is classified as “very bad,” and 51 [two more than last year] are colored red, meaning that the situation in these countries is classified as “bad.” In all, the situation has worsened in nearly two thirds [62.2%] of the 180 countries in the Index,” says the report.

India has gone down from last year’s 133 rank. The report blames the rise of Hindu nationalism for the drop in ranking. “With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media,” says the report.

“Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals,” the report goes on to say, and not to mention the sedition charges pressed on journalists.

The report says that it is increasingly difficult for journalists to report from sensitive zones such as Kashmir, where internet connectivity is often snapped during conflicts and reporters are targets of violence from both ends.

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