India Slips to 150th Position in Press Freedom Index

For those who wonder why India has not joined a “coalition of the free” against Russia, the news is that India is not that free anyway. It has fallen from 142nd to 150th position in the World Press Freedom Index 2022 of Reporters Without Borders.

This is a telling comment on growing government pressures as well as misuse of social media to attack media critics. The main culprit has been the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, but non‐​BJP state governments are guilty of some of the same tactics—misuse of government advertising to reward friends and penalize foes, tax raids and arbitrary use of laws on sedition and unlawful activities to harass critics.

India’s Index position was a terrible 140th out of 180 countries even before Modi came to power in 2014, so the problems are not entirely new. What Reporters Without Borders misses is the ability of small unknown outfits, some even one‐​person outfits, to keep popping out of nowhere to post critical videos on channels like YouTube, and get millions of hits. This is valuable new space for media guerillas. It is not a substitute for freedom for conventional media.

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