India has been ranked a lowly 77 among 196 countries in terms of press freedom according to a Freedom House study released on Monday. According to the 'Freedom of the Press 2011: A Global Survey of Media Independence' report, the country has been grouped in the 'Partly Free' category.
While Finland has topped the list, North Korea has the worst press freedom. India's immediate neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma, have been ranked 134, 112, and 191 respectively.
Of the 196 countries and territories assessed during 2010, a total of 68 (35%) were rated 'Free' in terms of press freedom, 65 (33%) were rated 'Partly Free', and 63 (32%) were rated 'Not Free'.
According to the survey rating, in terms of the level of political rights and civil liberties in the countries in 2010, a 'Partly Free' country is characterized by some restrictions on political rights and civil liberties, often in a context of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic strife, or civil war.
A Freedom House statement said, "The number of people worldwide with access to free and independent media declined to its lowest level in over a decade."
"Only 15% of the global population, one in six people, live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal and the press is not subject to onerous legal economic pressures."
The media freedom watchdog, however, predicted "a reversal of the negative trend" in 2011, citing the role of the internet and other social media in the ongoing popular uprisings in West Asia and North Africa.
The Washington-based Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom worldwide.