– Yogesh Kumar Goyal
Every year on 03 May ‘International Press Freedom Day’ is celebrated. Press has always been called the fourth pillar of democracy, because it has played a very important role in strengthening democracy. This is the reason why freedom of press has been considered very important for a healthy and strong democracy. The irony is that for the last few years there is a steady decline in the issue of press freedom. The edge of the pen has been considered more powerful and effective than the sword because due to its vigilance big scams could be exposed not only in India but in many countries within the last few decades. Due to this, all the industrialists, leaders and stalwarts of different fields had to come down to the floor in one stroke.
This is the reason that from time to time there have been conspiracies to blunt this weapon like pen and on various occasions not only in India but all over the world, some journalists had to pay the price of truth even by giving their lives. On December 03, 1950, the country’s first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had said- “Instead of banning the press, I would like to have a completely free press despite all the dangers of misuse of its freedom, because freedom of the press is not just a slogan.” Rather, it is an integral part of democracy.
Things have changed a lot in the last few decades. Today, journalists are at high risk from political, criminal and terrorist groups around the world. Meanwhile, fear and tension from government and private groups have increased in newsrooms around the world. Paris-based ‘Reporters Sans Frontieres’ (RSF) or ‘Reports Without Borders’ releases its annual report every year. Reports Without Borders is a non-profit organization. It works to document and combat attacks on journalists around the world and annually presents the ‘World Press Freedom Index’. In the ‘World Press Freedom Index 2019’, he explained the status of press freedom in various countries including India, explaining how hatred against journalists has turned into violence, which has increased fear among journalists worldwide.
In its report for 2022, Norway ranked first for press freedom, as last time. India was ranked 150 out of 180 countries. India has slipped eight places in this ranking as compared to last year. India was ranked 142nd in the 2021 ranking. In addition to press freedom, government interference and functioning of the media, the 2022 index has also focused on the spread of fake news on social media and its effects, and the ranking has been based on five types of freedom of the press. The ranking of all the countries has been determined on the basis of the average of the marks obtained in the five areas.
This basis includes political, economic, legislative, social and secular freedom of the press. In the 2022 ranking, India ranks 145th in Political Freedom with 40.76 points, 149th in Economic Freedom with 30.39 points, 120th in Legislative Freedom with 57.02 points, 127th in Social Freedom with 56.25 points and 163rd in Secular Freedom with 20.61 points. is on Although India’s position in the Press Freedom Index is better than neighboring countries. Compared to India, Myanmar is ranked 176th, China 175th, Bangladesh 162nd, Pakistan 157th and Afghanistan 156th.
India’s democracy is called the most successful and largest democracy in the world. In such a situation, if a small country like Norway is at the top position in terms of freedom of the press, then it is a matter to think about. If neighboring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka are ahead of us in the matter of press freedom, then there is a need for serious churning. The decrease in the freedom of the press is a direct and clear indication that the right to freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the basic spirit of democracy, is gradually decreasing.
The freedom of the press has not been provided separately in the Indian Constitution, but its freedom is also inherent in the expression and freedom of the citizens and this freedom can also be obstructed in case of danger to the unity and integrity of the country. It can be imagined that if the freedom of the press remains under question like this, how will the journalists continue to carry out their work with transparency? It is also necessary that the fourth pillar of democracy also has to remain within its limits and dignity.
(The author is a freelance commentator.)
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