What does one mean by “press freedom”? Press freedom refers to the right of newspapers, magazines, etc., to report news without being controlled by the government (according to Merriam-Webster). It is fundamental to any democratic society.
So, how free is the press of the world’s biggest democracy?
As of 2020, India stood at rank 142 out of 180 countries. Reporters Without Borders cites the following reasons for violation in press freedom:
- Police violence against journalists
- Criminal prosecution of journalists
- Retaliation by corrupt politicians
- Making it impossible for journalists to cover news in Kashmir by refusing access to mobile and internet services for several months
It goes on to say, “Those who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate. The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that annoy Hindutva followers are alarming and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. The campaigns are particularly virulent when the targets are women.”
There are 3 main ways freedom of press i restricted in India:
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
- Section 124A: Sedition Law
- Threat to life and well-being
How much can we believe the news we see in a country that punishes honest reportage?