In the World Press Freedom Index, published in the year 2022, the globe witnessed the fall of India’s rank in press freedom from 142 in 2021 to 150, which is the lowest in its history as well as among all the countries in the Indian subcontinent. The aforementioned Index is tabulated every year to find the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, news organizations, and netizens as well as the efforts taken by the government to respect such freedom.
With India’s fall in the ranking list, critics say that the reason for this fall is solely due to increased pressure and violence against journalists, and politically partisan media due to increasing media ownership by political parties.
What is the reason behind this?
The sole reason behind this is that Indian authorities are targeting and condemning journalists and online critics, whenever there is a criticism against the government policies or steps. This even includes prosecuting them under counterterrorism and sedition laws.
Threatening, harassment, and abuse of Indian journalists are very common in India amid the growing restrictions on media freedom. The world’s largest democracy seems to fail in respecting the right to freedom of expression. With the escalating crackdown on civil society and the government prosecuting independent news organizations, activists, peaceful protesters, and government critics, unbiased news circulation is soon to dwindle in the country.
What must be done?
India, its government, and authorities should respect the right to freedom of expression, release any detained journalists for their critical reporting and stop targeting journalists and meddling with independent media.
Protection laws for journalists who might be critical of the government and face backlash on social media including rape and death threats must be strengthened. Prompt, thorough and impartial investigations of allegations of threats and attacks faced by journalists and critics must be conducted. The government should step up to protect the right to freedom of expression and not condemn it with impunity.