The Press Freedom Index 2020 was published on May 3rd, the World Press Day by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a non-profit organization registered in France since 1995. The acronym comes from the name in French – Reporters Sans Frontières. The RSF is an independent international NGO that enjoys consultative status with the United Nations and several other international bodies.
The index includes print as well as online media and thus covers freedom available to the netizens in the country concerned. It is thus comprehensive in its span. To note, the PFI only deals with press freedom and does not measure the quality of journalism nor does it look at human rights violations in general. It includes issues such as legislative framework, media independence, self-censorship, cases of violence against media, etc. They publish both the rank and the score of the countries. Nonetheless, since the questionnaire and the method of calculation may change, rank is a better criterion of comparison both in a given year or over a span of years. Eighteen freedom of expression NGO’s over five continents and 130 countries give credence to the whole process.
Press Freedom Index 2020
Norway has topped the rank with a score of 7.84. In fact, since 2017 and a number of times earlier too, Norway has topped the rank. Moreover, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands are among the top five this year – in that order. They have all scored less than 10. Remember, the less the score, the better. These countries along with Switzerland and New Zealand have consistently ranked higher. India has ranked 142 with 45.33 scores. The UK is better placed at rank 35 compared to the US at 45. It doesn’t behove to compare India with Pakistan but the latter is placed only slightly lower at 145. North Korea is at the bottom: rank 180, score 85.82. China fares only slightly fair at 177.
Admittedly, the freedom of expression and information is the first and most important of freedoms. Moreover, it pays to be in the good books of democracy. Countries also as such aspire to rank higher in the list. A slide down is a matter of concern. Still, we won’t clamour over India getting two ranks lower this year. The main opposition party has already legitimately raised the point. The present dispensation has also routinely rubbished the methodology of the whole report itself.
The main issue, however, cannot be brushed under the carpet. India ranks 142. Isn’t it a matter of shame for the largest democracy? And, Pakistan 145. To say the least, it is demeaning – for India, I mean. In any case, we have consistently fared poorly since 2013 when India made a debut on this index at 140. It can hardly be a matter of solace that South Asia as a whole has always done badly. India as a South Asian leader probably takes pride in following the region. It should lead instead by setting an example through consistently attaining high ranks. The Press Freedom Index presents the state of world press freedom. It does no good for the Union Minister of a country in “red” (difficult situation) to just slam it.