India has slipped 8 places on the World Press Freedom Index 2022. With a global score of 41, India has gone down to the 150th position from 142 last year.
About World Press Freedom Index –
- It has been published every year since 2002 by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders.
- Based in Paris, RSF is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF). OIF is a 54 french speaking nations collective.
- The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.
- India’s position has been consistently falling in the index since 2016 when it was ranked 133. With a global score of 41, India has gone down to the 150th position from 142 last year.
- This year, Norway (1st) Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd) grabbed the top positions, while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list of the 180 countries and territories ranked by the Reporters Without Borders.
- The parameters include pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
- In the year 2020, India had dropped to two places on the World Press Freedom Index to be ranked 142nd out of 180 countries. The country scored the same rank in the year 2022 too.
Criticism of the World Press Freedom Index –
- Multiple countries and commentators have raised concerns with both the WPFI criteria, methodology and also about RSF’s perceived biases, lack of objectivity in ranking and lack of transparency.
- One of the primary concerns raised has been the opaqueness of the WPFI survey.
- Question-wise or category-wise scores used in computing scores on the basis of parameters are not made public, nor is the list of respondents provided.
- The Press Council of India (PCI), which acts a watchdog of the press, by the press and for the press had rejected India’s ranking in the 2018 WPFI, stating that there was a lack of clarity on the inputs for the rankings, which were based solely on perception and not on statistical data.
What is ‘Index Monitoring Cell’?
- The Index Monitoring Cell (IMC) was set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry with stakeholders to improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index and to evolve an objective yardstick to gauge media freedom.
- The 15-member committee had four journalists and government functionaries. Chaired by Principal Director General of the Press Information Bureau, the committee has 10 government employees.
Recommendations of IMC –
- Among the key recommendations is the decriminalising of defamation. India is one of the few countries in the world to criminalise defamation.
- The panel has also recommended that consent of the Press Council of India is a prerequisite before filing an FIR against the media or a publication.