Watch | India’s Collapse in Press Freedom Index ‘Extremely Embarrassing but Only for Those With Shame’

P. Sainath and Karan Thapar discuss the steady decline of press freedom in India for almost 20 years.

P. Sainath, one of India’s outstanding journalists and a winner of the Magsaysay Award, says India’s collapse in the Reporters Sans Frontiers World Press Freedom Index to 161 out of 180 countries is “extremely embarrassing but only for those possessed of a sense of shame”. In the index released last week, India is 11 places below Pakistan (which is at 150) and 26 places below Sri Lanka (which is at 135). Worse, India is just 19 places above North Korea, arguably the world’s worst dictatorship.

However, the sad truth is that India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has been steadily falling since 2005. It was 106 in that year. By the time the UPA regime ended, it was already down to 140. Now, under Narendra Modi, not only has India’s position fallen for four consecutive years but its sunk a further 21 places to 161. So, clearly, press freedom in India has been steadily declining for almost 20 years. This is the big issue discussed with Sainath in a 39-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire.