India is ranked 161 on the Reporters Without Borders’ 2023 Press Freedom Index, lower even than Afghanistan, having slipped 11 ranks this year. But India is not the worst among G20 countries. Turkey is ranked at 165, making it the third-worst performer among G20 nations, after Saudi Arabia, which is at 170 and China, which is at 179. Russia is just one spot above Turkey. Even the United States, which is at 45, is behind G20 nations like Germany, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
While journalists and media outlets in countries like India and Myanmar face an existential crisis and onslaughts from the state, media in other G20 countries too face serious challenges. Some of the threats to media singled out at the conference were copyright violations of intellectual property and content by digital platforms, online disinformation, authoritarian politics, cyber attacks often backed by the state and attacks on dissent and diversity by choking small media outlets.
Speaking about the condition of press freedom in India, N Ram pointed to the recent FIR against the Editors Guild of India over their report on the media coverage of the Manipur violence, arrests of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir, takeover of “independent” news channel NDTV, and the closure of online portal Kashmir Walla. He said the situation in India is “difficult”, if not “serious”.