India dropped 11 positions to take up position 161 in Reporters Without Borders’ 2023 World Press Freedom Index. 180 nations are ranked based on the degree of freedom that journalists have to report the news without fear of retaliation. According to RSF, a variety of causes, such as the growing use of sedition and other laws to suppress journalists, the intimidation of journalists by officials from the government, and others, contributed to India’s ranking slide. The prevalence of internet abuse against journalists has made it even more challenging for them to accomplish their jobs. Online harassment directed at journalists increased from 150 incidents in 2020 to 200 incidents in 2021. ” Attacks on independent media by the Indian government have increased recently. RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said that the Indian government has ramped up its attacks on privately owned media in the past couple of years. Journalists are becoming more and more hesitant to report on sensitive subjects as a result of this environment of fear.
The drop in India’s rating is a concerning development for the nation’s press freedom going forward. Although India claims to be a democracy, there has been an increase in the crackdown on dissent in recent years. India’s journalistic freedom has decreased since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took office. The BJP has been charged with employing a number of strategies, including making up allegations against journalists, harassing them, and threatening to cancel their press credentials, to intimidate them. The administration has taken harsh measures against journalists who have covered sensitive topics, including human rights violations and corruption. There have been several high-profile instances of the BJP administration targeting journalists in recent years. The offices of the news website The Wire, which had written stories critical of the administration, were searched by the government in 2018. Sedition laws and other legislation have been used more frequently by the government to intimidate journalists. From 10 instances in 2020 to 15 cases in 2021, journalists were accused of sedition.
Additionally, it has become increasingly challenging for journalists to do their duties as a result of the growth in internet aggression against them. Online harassment, threats, and even physical assaults have been directed at journalists. The COVID-19 epidemic was handled poorly by the government in 2020, and the COVID-19 editor of the news portal Scroll.in was detained as a result. New regulations for social media platforms were implemented by the government in 2021, which opponents claim give the government excessive ability to control material. Journalists who have uploaded content unfavourable to the government have been targeted by the restrictions. Online bullying of journalists increased from 150 incidents in 2020 to 200 cases in 2021.
For a nation that now holds the title of largest democracy, the loss of journalistic freedom ought to be concerning. A democracy that is functioning properly requires a free press, and the BJP’s campaign against journalists poses a danger to the fundamental right to free expression. The democracy in India is seriously threatened by the deterioration of press freedom in the nation. A free press is necessary to ensure that all citizens’ voices are heard and to hold the government responsible.
Press freedom in India is threatened, as evidenced by the nation’s dropping position in the World Press Freedom Index. The government is obligated to take action to safeguard journalists’ rights and make sure they can report the news without worrying about retaliation. Concern over the country’s declining press freedom rating has been voiced by media organisations in India. The Press Club of India claimed that the rating served as a “wake-up call” for the government, which was now compelled to take action to defend the rights of journalists. The rating, according to the Indian Journalists Union, was “a sad reflection of the state of press freedom in India.” The union urged the government to “stop persecuting journalists and enable them toto do their work without fear.”