Freedom Of The Press: The Need Of The Hour To Justify The Position Of Media As The Fourth Pillar Of Democracy!
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based group, releases the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) every year to assess the amount of freedom enjoyed by the media in 180 different nations.
The government does not agree with the viewpoints and national rankings of the World Press Freedom Index, which the foreign NGO ‘Reporters produce Without Borders,’ said Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur. In a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha, Thakur stated that the government does not agree with the conclusions reached by this organization for a variety of reasons, including small sample size, little or no weightage given to democratic fundamentals, and the use of a questionable and blurry methodology.
The government does not intervene in the operation of the press as part of its strategy to maintain press freedom, the minister said in response to a query from YSRCP member Adala Prabhakar Reddy.
He stated that the Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory independent agency, was established to protect press freedom and enhance the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the nation. According to Thakur, the PCI evaluates complaints made ‘by the Press’ alleging restrictions on press freedom and physical assault/attack on journalists under Section 13 of the Press Council Act. According to him, the PCI is also entitled to take suo motu notice of important concerns involving press freedom and the preservation of its high standards.
What does the World Press Freedom Index mean?
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based group, releases the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) every year to assess the amount of freedom enjoyed by the media in 180 different nations. RSF, a Paris-based independent nongovernmental organization, has consultative status with the Council of Europe, the United Nations, UNESCO, and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF). According to the amount of freedom offered to journalists, the Index assigns a ranking to various nations and regions. That does not, however, reflect the quality of journalism.
The drastic fall in India’s ranking!
From 80 in the first year of the 2002 WPFI report to 122 in 2010 and 131 in 2012, India’s ranking fell. India dropped eight spots, from 142nd to 150th, among the 180 nations in 2022. Since 2016, when it was rated 133, India’s standing in the index has been steadily declining.
Causes for India’s Drop in Ranking.
Federal government pressure.
The index states that pressure from “increasingly authoritarian and/or nationalist administrations” is exerted on the media in India, one of the countries thought to be more democratic.
Issues with the Policy Framework.
Although the policy framework is supposed to be protective, it instead accuses journalists of being “anti-national” by employing defamation, sedition, contempt of court, and harming national security.
Also, violence is a contributor.
Increased “violence against journalists” and a “politically oriented media” are to blame for the ranking drop. In recent years, there have been multiple murders of journalists. Journalists are subject to a wide range of physical violence, including that of the police, political activists, ambushes, and lethal retaliation by gangs or dishonest local authorities. For instance, the situation in Kashmir is still “worrisome,” and police and paramilitaries frequently harass reporters.
What the PM of the nation had to say about the freedom of the press?
Speaking at the Press Council of India’s (PCI) golden jubilee celebrations in 2016, the Honorable PM emphasized that there should be no government involvement in the operation of the press. He warned that any outside interference may cause turmoil and encouraged self-regulation by gradually making the right adjustments.
The notion of Mahatma Gandhi was used by Mr. Modi to strengthen his claims in favor of press self-regulation. Uncontrolled writing, according to Mahatma Gandhi, can lead to serious issues, but he also warned that outside influence would cause turmoil. External press control is not imaginable. Government should not meddle in any affairs. Reflecting on oneself can indeed be challenging. PCI and those connected to the press are responsible for ensuring that any necessary updates are made over time.
The last comments express a desire for journalistic freedom.
Even after PM Modi’s speech which says that government should not interfere with the functioning of the press, there have been many many instances and voices that say that after the government took power in 2014, it has tried to manipulate and control various media agencies. After the takeover of NDTV by Adani, a close pal of Mr. PM, these sounds raising concerns over the credibility of the press and the published content, have become more powerful.
In the end, it should be noted that the press and media are considered the fourth pillar of democracy because it provides information about the conditions and requirements of the people in the country and is the voice to ask questions and plea on the behalf of a common man!