India's pride in being the largest democracy on the planet received a blow with the 2018 World Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) - saying that the country's rank has fallen further two places to 138. It was 136 in 2017. The index was released on Wednesday, April 25.
The index, which is being published by RSF since 2002, takes stock of the level of media freedom in 180 nations which includes the extent of pluralism, freedom of the press, self-censorship, transparency and the state of the infrastructure that supports the production of news.
The latest report has also revealed an alarming factor. It said more and more democratically elected leaders to see the media as an adversary and not one of the democracy's essential requirements. The United States is an example in hand as its rank fell from 43 to 45.
Trolling & attacking journalists have marred India's image
As far as India is concerned, the report said journalists have become a target after Narendra Modi became the prime minister of India and Hindu fundamentalists have been referring to them in violent ways. Besides, the physical attack on journalists has been another big reason why India's rank has slid, the report said.
It mentioned the case of Gauri Lankesh, a veteran journalist who was shot dead in front of her residence in Bengaluru in September last year after being targeted and trolled for "questioning Hindu supremacy, caste system and discrimination against women".
Pakistan was ranked 139, a slot down than India.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said "unleashing of hatred" against journalists have been one of the worst threats that democracies have been facing.
Norway was the topper in the index this year, as it was in 2017, while Sweden continued to be the second for the second consecutive year. North Korea was the last rank holder.
South Korea jumped 20 places under Moon presidency
South Korea did a great show by jumping 20 places to 43 and this rise came after Moon Jae-in was elected as the country's president last year.
The report also criticised China (ranked 176) which it said was inching closer to a "contemporary version of totalitarianism" under President Xi Jinping and that its influence was also being felt in South-east Asian countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.