India has ranked 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 against journalists.
The rankings, which are released annually, are an indicator of the independence afforded to scribeds in different countries and also reflect the ‘intensity of attacks’ on journalistic freedom during the past year.
Scandinavian countries have consistently ranked well in terms of press freedom, with Finland retaining its top spot for the sixth consecutive year. Norway, Denmark and Sweden all rank in the top ten as well.
In the 2016 World Press Freedom Index report, which was released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), India witnesses an improvement of three spots from the 136th position it held last year.
“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 has said, “Instead, in a desire to increase control of media coverage, Modi envisages opening a journalism university run by former propaganda ministry officials.”
The report shows that Europe has the freest media. Interestingly, Africa has ‘for the first time overtaken the Americas, a region where violence against journalists is on the rise’, the RSF says.
Journalists in North Africa/Middle East still fare badly and are subject to ‘restrictions of every kind’.
Among India’s neighbouring countries, Pakistan ranks 147, Sri Lanka 141, Afghanistan 120, Bangladesh 144, Nepal 105 and Bhutan 94. China is ranked at a very low 176 -- one of the worst in the world.
(With PTI inputs)