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India slips in world press freedom index: Is there any way out to bounce back?

Are restrictions in Kashmir, the reason behind India’s fall in World Press Freedom Index

If prime-time anchors at leading media channels and local newspapers were not enough, the latest Press freedom index has come to tell us India’s journalism is going through a record-low. In the recent World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, India slipped by 2 points and reached 142nd position in the list of 180 countries.

India has come below Palestine (137), South Sudan (138), and Myanmar (139), and a little above Pakistan (145). The report has been prepared on the basis of media coverage across the world in the year 2019. The report states that though there has been no murders of Journalists in India in 2019, there have been “constant press freedom violations, ambushes by political activists, police violence against journalists, and reprisals instigated by corrupt local officials or criminal groups.”

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What is the reason behind India’s fall in the list

The report specifically says that India’s score has been heavily affected by the restrictions imposed in Kashmir which shut down fixed-line and mobile internet connections completely for several months. It became a hindrance for local journalists to cover what was happening in the union territory.

It seems that with COVID-19 affecting almost all these countries, suppression of media freedom is likely to increase. Some countries have been trying to censor the coronavirus reports. China, which ranked 177th, 3rd last in the list is facing several criticisms over hiding the real numbers. Iran (173) is also extensively censoring the major outbreaks in the country. Iraq at 162nd cancelled license of Reuters for three months after it questioned the official coronavirus figure. European country Hungary passed a coronavirus law with penalties of up to five years in prison for false information.

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Who topped the list?

Norway is continuing to impress with coming on top for the fourth consecutive year. Finland was ranked the second-best in the World Press Freedom index.

Journalism can be censored in two ways, one is when government directly intervenes in the reporting of private news setups or state-owned setups. The other way to control media is indirectly by giving money as an advertiser and sponsor. The practise of journalism in India is not an enigma code that we can’t break. The recent examples of coverage of Tablighi Jammat, Bandra crowd and mob-lynching of two sadhus are enough to tell us the standard of Indian journalism these days.

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