Bengaluru: It’s a hoot! India has ranked 136 out of 180 in the annual World Press Freedom Index, released by media rights group Reporters without Borders (RSF) dropping three points from last year, and ranked below Afghanistan and Pakistan!
Press freedom has never been as threatened as it is now, in the "new post-truth era of fake news" after the election of US President Donald Trump, RSF warned Wednesday.
"Donald Trump's rise to power... and the Brexit campaign were marked by high-profile media-bashing, a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation and fake news," it said.
The watchdog attributes India's low score to "threat from Modi's Nationalism". Ironically, PM Modi tweeted on World Press Freedom Day to show his "support towards a free & vibrant press, which is vital in a democracy.”
A Delhi based media watchdog says there were " 54 attacks, and 25 cases of threatening journalists in the past 16 months.", adding the perpetuators are politicians, vigilante groups, police and security forces, lawyers.
RSP highlighted coverage of sensitive areas like Kashmir on social media, saying that on the first day of a wave of protests in Kashmir in July 2016, the Internet was cut by the military and was often interrupted thereafter to prevent communication between protesters and media coverage.
Vladimir Putin's Russia remains firmly entrenched in the bottom fifth of the index, in 148th place.
North Korea ‘least free’
Norway came out top of the index with the world's freest media, taking over from neighbouring Finland. At the other end of the scale, North Korea took bottom place from another repressive closed state, Eritrea. North Korea continues to keep "its population in ignorance and terror," RSF said. "Even listening to a foreign radio broadcast can lead to a spell in a concentration camp." China, war-torn Syria -- the deadliest country for journalists -- and Turkmenistan complete the bottom five.