India’s rank in the World Press Freedom Index depicts the unsafe and vulnerable conditions of its journalists. The country occupied 140th rank on a list which overall comprised of 180 nations. Quite low, right? Another bad news is that the ranking dropped down two places this year as compared to the 138th rank in 2018.
The lower ranking highlights that crimes against journalists are inflating and the fourth pillar of democracy is in danger. A democratic country is expected to provide safety to its citizens, and journalists, being the citizens of India, deserve a safe working environment, but they are being harassed and tortured instead. Shujaat Bukhari, Gauri Lankesh, Shivani Bhatnagar, Sai Reddy, and Santanu Bhowmik are some names. Working conditions of journalists working in Northeast India are even worse. They have to face mob as well as Maoist attacks.
Norway attained the first position on the list followed by Finland and Sweden. The most important factor necessary for the proper functioning of media is Freedom of Speech. Norway provides freedom to its journalists and they are not subjected to political pressure or censorship. Article 100 of Norway’s 1814 constitution provides grounds for Press Freedom.
The country gives its press something that our country has failed to deliver, freedom of speech. Even if Indian journalists try to work with utter determination, they are either criticized or sued with a defamation case.
The fact that many journalists are attacked and murdered in India shows the lack of tolerance in the country. The moment a journalist tries to uncover the truth against a particular group or a person or a scam, he is criticized and condemned for the work. Supporters of a group or of powerful people, terrorists, Maoists, and criminals try to harm the journalist or sometimes they even try to take away the life, as was seen in the cases of Gauri Lankesh and Shujaat Bukhari.
Many factors are responsible for this plight of Indian journalism. Zero tolerance of public is one factor, however media outlets themselves have played a crucial role in worsening the conditions of journalists. For instance, the biased nature of many media houses has created immense hatred and disgust for journalists. The world of Indian journalism has become so fake that one has to check at least three to four different news portals before holding an opinion on respective news.
Media has hindered its own growth and the price of all the unethical decisions of mainstream media is paid with the lives of journalists. They have set certain undeclared norms that act as hate-promoting instruments against these journalists. The current scenario of media is so bad that whoever tries to investigate and unfold the truth, media itself becomes an enemy of that person. Some media outlets have enthused so much poison in the general public’s mind that they see journalists as liars.
Gauri Lankesh was murdered because her murderer, Parashuram Waghmore, was told that his religion was in danger. The same way many journalists are killed in the name of religion and politics.
Journalists are threatened and asked to keep their mouth shut regarding certain matters. When media is expected to act as a watch-dog for the three pillars of democracy, it should also be given proper safety and provisions. Journalists have the tremendous duty of making the general public aware of the truth and they need security in order to work effectively. The very low rank of India in the World Press Freedom Index shows the country’s behaviour and concern towards journalists in a very bad light.
Our country’s journalism mechanism requires some serious changes, and we as a country need to wake up and understand the plight of our journalists. Security and safety is everyone’s right. Hating all the journalists because of a few biased media houses will do no good for our democracy.