World Press Freedom Day – World Press Freedom Day; Know the history and rank of India among other countries
The United Nations General Assembly has declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day or simply World Press Day, observed to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom. Each year the day is commemorated and has a theme based on the relevant issues of the year. This day will also mark the frontline journalists who sacrificed their lives to bring the truth to the public about many illegal incidents. The special day celebrates the spirit of journalism and recognizes the dedication of journalists
The UN has declared the press the fourth pillar of democracy which, every year, highlights the importance of journalists and their duties throughout the world. This year’s theme is “Journalism under siege by the digital”. In this modern era, the world has changed a lot with the help of digital and technical powers. It is therefore important to make this year’s theme digital journalism.
The origin of WorldPressDay dates back to 1991, when an African journalist presenting at a UNESCO conference in Windhoek, which was based on “Promoting Independent and Pluralistic African Media”, floated an idea to promote the field of freedom of the press in different parts of the world. However, UNESCO adopted the Windhoek Declaration on May 3, 1993.
An award is given annually to a deserving individual, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world. Created in 1997, the prize is awarded on the recommendation of an independent jury of 14 information professionals. The names are submitted by regional and international non-governmental organizations working for freedom of the press and by Member States of UNESCO.
Press freedom in India is declining
When considering the rank of press freedom in India, there is a stark shift that notes that in India, the freedom to make one’s voice heard through the “media” is on the decline and the ranking is marked after analyzing the freedom of the rest of the countries. In 2015, the World Press Freedom Index, compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders, ranked India 136th out of 180 countries. That number in 2021 hit an all-time low of 142.
Although India does not drop further down the index, Reporters Without Borders continues to rate India as “bad” for journalism, describing it as “one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists who try to do their job well.”
“While this is the case in India, the situation is unpredictable in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and many others,” some of the activists said. A similar type of survey was also conducted by Reporters Without Borders and according to their survey, India ranked 133rd in press freedom in 2016.
Read also: Fourth Consecutive Year India Imposed Highest Number of Internet Shutdowns in 2021: Report
The reason for India’s weak position has been told by many critics and pundits. Journalists in India are targeted online and in the field. Some of the critics say that the press, if it questions the Indian government, will suffer a setback even if it raises its voice for a good cause. In India, hate speech targeting journalists is shared and amplified on social media, often by armies of trolls in the pay of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” RSF said in its 2018 report.
Moreover, as India’s internet shutdown has increased over the past year, it has led to a decline in press freedom in the country. Most shutdowns from 2012 to 2019 (301 out of 381) were for mobile internet services only, IndiaSpend reported in January 2020. We the people of India hear again and again about the state of media freedom in India and of how journalists are selectively targeted and attacked in India in the name of reporting and, in some cases, their religious identity.