India’s Mixed Record on Press Freedom

How the world’s largest democracy fares on press freedom compared to its neighbors.

May 29, 2016

How the world’s largest democracy fares on press freedom compared to its neighbors.

1. India ranked 133rd worldwide out of 180 according to the 2016 Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index. That is much better than 176th-ranked China.

2. But India has still fallen behind countries such as Afghanistan (120th) and Zimbabwe (124th).

3. India’s neighbor and rival Pakistan ranks somewhat worse at 147th, where intelligence agents and religious terrorists commonly target journalists.

4. In fact, one long-running obstacle in India has been censorship of reporting on the unresolved border conflict with Pakistan.

5. More recently there has also been a rising tide of extremist incidents against India’s journalists and bloggers by hardline religious factions.

6. The Modi government, supported by Hindu nationalists, has done little to curb attacks.

7. Prime Minister Modi has also expressed a desire to tie journalism education more closely to former government public relations officials.

8. India’s ranking improved over 2015, but its absolute score declined.

9. India’s press also became notorious for granting favorable coverage to anyone willing to pay for it — a phenomenon known as “paid news.”

10. Reporters Without Borders noted that Pakistan, perhaps more so than India, has robustly critical coverage of domestic politicians despite the risks.

Sources: Reporters Without Borders (see India report), The Globalist Research Center

Takeaways

India has now fallen behind Afghanistan and Zimbabwe in press freedom rankings.

A long-running obstacle in India has been censorship of reporting on the border conflict with Pakistan.

India’s press is notorious for granting favorable coverage to anyone willing to pay for it.