Press Freedom: India Shows up Poorly
PARIS – The 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index compiled by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has India down by eight slots. Out of 180 countries, India now ranks 150, down from last year’s 142. The status of press freedom in India has been categorized as ‘difficult.’
Pakistan is worse at 157 and Bangladesh is at 162 and have been classified as being in a ‘very serious situation.’ Sri Lanka has also dropped from 127 to 146.
In the region, Bhutan shines rising from 65 to 33 – the only country in the region to be in the ‘satisfactory’ category. Nepal too climbed from 106 to 76.
The report also said confrontation between “blocs” is growing, as seen between India and Pakistan in the context of a propaganda war.
Within democratic societies, divisions are growing as a result of the spread of opinion media following the “Fox News model” and the spread of disinformation circuits that are amplified by the way social media functions.
At the international level, democracies are being weakened by the asymmetry between open societies and despotic regimes that control their media and online platforms while waging propaganda wars against democracies. Polarization on these two levels is fueling increased tension.
The invasion of Ukraine (106th) by Russia (155th) that began on February 24 reflects this process, as the physical conflict was preceded by a propaganda war. China (175th), one of the world’s most repressive autocratic regimes, uses its legislative arsenal to confine its population and cut it off from the rest of the world, especially the population of Hong Kong (148th), which has plummeted in the Index.
Media polarization is feeding and reinforcing internal social divisions in democratic societies such as the US (42nd), despite President Joe Biden’s election.
Norway, Denmark and Sweden, continue to serve as a democratic model where freedom of expression flourishes, while Moldova (40th) and Bulgaria (91st) stand out this year thanks to a government change and the hope it has brought for improvement in the situation for journalists even if oligarchs still own or control the media.
The world’s 10 worst countries for press freedom include Myanmar (176th), where the February 2021 coup set press freedom back by 10 years, as well as Turkmenistan (177th), Iran (178th), Eritrea (179th) and North Korea (180th). (with IANS inputs)