Context: India is ranked at 150 among 180 nations in the World Press Freedom Index 2022 report.
- The 20th World Press Freedom Index was published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
- Norway (1st) Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd) Estonia (4th) and Finland (5th) grabbed the top positions, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list of the 180 countries and territories ranked by the Reporters Without Borders
- The Index’s rankings are based on a score ranging from 0 to 100 that is assigned to each country or territory, with 100 being the best possible score (the highest possible level of press freedom) and 0 the worst.
- RSF developed a new methodology to compile the 20th World Press Freedom Index.
- The new methodology defines press freedom as “the effective possibility for journalists, as individuals and as groups, to select, produce and disseminate news and information in the public interest, independently from political, economic, legal and social interference, and without threats to their physical and mental safety.”
- In order to reflect press freedom’s complexity, five new indicators are now used to compile the Index: the political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and security.
The Indian Government’s Response
- The report described India as “one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media” and noted that “journalists are exposed to all kinds of physical violence, including police violence, ambushes by political activists and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.”
- Indian government does not agree with the conclusions drawn by the organisation for various reasons, including “very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent”.
- Government is committed to ensure the right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution.
- The Press Council of India (PCI) has been set up under the Press Council Act, 1978 mainly to preserve the freedom of the press and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country PCI looks into the complaints filed ‘by the Press’ regarding curtailment of press freedom.
- Index Monitoring Cell (IMC)
- Set up by: Information and Broadcasting Ministry
- Objective: To improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index and to evolve an objective yardstick to gauge media freedom.
- It is a 15-member committee.
- It has four journalists and government functionaries.
- Chaired by: Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia, Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau
Source: The Indian Express