Daily Hot Topic

Topic : Press Freedom in India

GS-2 Mains : Polity

Revision Notes

India’s Rank: 159th out of 180 countries in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index (RSF)

Threats to Press Freedom:

  • Violence Against Journalists:
    • Ex: Murder of Gauri Lankesh (2017), critic of right-wing extremism.
    • Creates climate of fear, discourages critical reporting.
  • Censorship and Government Control:
    • Blocking of news websites and channels restricts dissenting voices.
  • Legal and Regulatory Constraints:
    • Sedition laws used against journalists (e.g., Siddique Kappan, 2020).
    • Laws criticized for being vague and enabling misuse.
  • Economic Pressures and Ownership Concentration:
    • Takeover of media houses by corporations (e.g., NDTV by Adani Group, 2022) raises concerns of biased reporting.
  • Digital Surveillance and Internet Restrictions:
    • Internet shutdowns (e.g., Jammu & Kashmir, 2019) hinder journalists’ work.
    • Surveillance chills freedom and privacy.

Recommendations for Improvement:

  • Strengthen Legal Protections:
    • Enact laws to safeguard journalists from violence and intimidation.
    • Establish a Press Protection Act (like US Shield Laws) for source confidentiality.
    • Review and amend defamation & sedition laws to prevent misuse.
  • Ensure Media Pluralism:
    • Promote diverse media ownership to avoid monopolies.
    • Implement policies to encourage competition (e.g., similar to UK’s Broadcasting Act).
  • Enhance Digital Freedom:
    • Develop transparent guidelines for internet shutdowns as a last resort.
  • Promote Ethical Journalism:
    • Support training and self-regulation within the journalism profession.
    • Uphold codes of conduct for accuracy, fairness, and impartiality.

World Press Freedom Index (2024)

  • What it is: An annual report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) assessing press freedom in 180 countries.
  • What it measures: Media pluralism, independence, legal frameworks, and journalist safety.
  • Global Trends:
    • Significant improvements and declines in various countries.
    • Top: Norway, Finland, Sweden (strong press freedom protections).
    • Bottom: North Korea, Eritrea (repressive regimes, media restrictions).
  • India’s Position:
    • Ongoing challenges: violence, censorship, legal misuse.
    • Specific issues: journalist arrests, internet shutdowns, government influence.

Source : https://rsf.org/en/2024-world-press-freedom-index-journalism-under-political-pressure


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