Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

India retains 142 of 180 spot in World Press Freedom index


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Press Freedom Index

Mains level: Paper 2- Freedom of press in India

Where India stands on freedom of press

  • India is ranked at 142 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index 2021.
  • India at142th position is same as last year, after it had consistently slid down from 133 in 2016.
  • In the South Asian neighbourhood, Nepal is at 106, Sri Lanka at 127, Myanmar (before the coup) at 140, Pakistan at 145 and Bangladesh at 152.
  • The index is published by the international journalism not-for profit body, Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
  • China is ranked 177, and is only above North Korea at 179 and Turkmenistan at 178.

What the report said about India

  • The report released on Tuesday stated that India shares the “bad” classification with Brazil, Mexico and Russia.
  • RSF has highlighted that the “campaigns are particularly violent when the targets are women”.
  • Further, it said that criminal prosecutions are meanwhile “often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities” with sections for sedition also used.
  • Speaking about the larger Asia-Pacific region, the report mentioned that “instead of drafting new repressive laws in order to impose censorship, several of the region’s countries have contented themselves with strictly applying existing legislation that was already very draconian – laws on ‘sedition,’ ‘state secrets’ and ‘national security’.”
  • The report has also highlighted throttling of freedom of expression on social media, and specifically mentioned that in India the “arbitrary nature of Twitter’s algorithms also resulted in brutal censorship”

Measures adopted by India to improve ranking

  • The Indian government has been concerned about its low rankings in such international indices, and had last year started studying them to understand how to improve.
  • Soon after the index was released last year, Union Minister for Information and Broadcast  had tweeted on May 2: “Media in India enjoy absolute freedom.”

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