India’s ranking in press freedom falls to 138th

India’s ranking in the Press Freedom Index has fallen two places to 138, a watchdog said on 25 April 2018 in an annual report, blaming “physical violence” against journalists like Gauri Lankesh as the key reason behind the country’s low ranking.

Norway topped the list of having the world’s freest press for the second year in a row, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said while North Korea remained the most repressive country followed by Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria and then China. India’s ranking has fallen two places to 138th position in a ranking of 180 countries.

Hate speech is also an issue in the continent’s other giant, India, which has fallen another two places to 138th. Ever since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, Hindu fundamentalists have been referring to journalists in extremely violent terms. Any investigative reporting that annoys the ruling party or any criticism of Hindutva, elicits a torrent of online insults and calls for the death of the reporter or writer responsible, most of it coming from the prime minister’s troll army.

The physical violence against journalists is largely responsible for India’s low ranking. At least three journalists were murdered in connection with their work. More were killed in circumstances that were unclear, as is often the case in rural areas, where reporters are poorly paid. China’s ranking remained unchanged at 175th position for the second year.

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