India ranks abysmally low at 133 among 180 countries, in the latest annual World Press Freedom Index which says Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems “indifferent” to the threats posed to journalists.
The 2016 ‘World Press Freedom Index’ released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), is led by Finland, which retained its top spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.
India jumped three spots from the 136th position it had in 2015. “Journalists and bloggers are attacked and anathematised by various religious groups that are quick to take offense,” the report said.
At the same time, it is hard for journalists to cover regions such as Kashmir that are regarded as sensitive by the government, it said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems indifferent to these threats and problems, and there is no mechanism for protecting journalists,” the report said.
“Instead, in a desire to increase control of media coverage, Modi envisages opening a journalism university run by former propaganda ministry officials,” it alleged, without substantiating what it refers to.
Among India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan ranks 147, Sri Lanka (141), Afghanistan (120), Bangladesh (144), Nepal (105) and Bhutan (94). China is ranked 176.
The United States is ranked 44th and Russia, 148.
The report shows that there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels.