Ground Report | New Delhi: Modi, Putin and Sheikh; Reporters Without Borders has included many new faces including PM Modi in its ‘Gallery of Grim Portrait’ released after five years. Reporters Without Borders, an organization working for press freedom and journalists’ rights around the world, has published the names of 37 heads of state and government who it says are “relentlessly attacking press freedom.”
Modi, Putin and Sheikh Hasina
The organization has called it the ‘Gallery of Grim Portrait’, that is, the gallery of faces that increase despair. The 37 faces of this gallery also include the face of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
Leaders and ministers of the ruling BJP in India have been calling such reports “partisan” and “biased”, saying India is the world’s largest democracy where the press has full freedom to criticize.
However, there have been constant allegations from the journalists’ organization and the opposition that the Modi government is tightening its grip on the media.
No response has been issued by the Government of India on this report so far, it will be included in this report when the response is received. Reporters Without Borders is also known as RSF because its name in French is Reporters San Frantie.
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Aggressors of press freedom
The RSF report states that some of these “aggressors of press freedom” have been following their footsteps for over two decades, but some new faces have joined the gallery.
Apart from India’s PM Modi, two women and a European face are also included in this for the first time. It has been called the Gallery of Grimm Portrait of 2021, the last time such a gallery was published by the institution five years ago in 2016.
About fifty percent (17) of the faces in this time’s gallery have been included for the first time. The organization says that this gallery includes those heads of government who adopt censorship methods, arbitrarily jail journalists, and promote attacks against them. The report said that all this often happens indirectly and is aimed at trampling on the freedom of the press.
The RSF has released a Press Freedom Map, in which it has been told by color which country is placed in which category, the countries shown in red color have ‘bad’ condition of press freedom, The situation in them is ‘very bad’, shown in black.
In this map, India is shown in red color while countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia are shown in black, that is, according to this, India’s condition is bad. It is also worth noting that a third of the leaders (13) who attack ‘press freedom’ are from the Asia Pacific region, with an average age of 65-66 years.
RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloure said: “There are 37 leaders in the list of those who attack the freedom of the press, but one cannot say that there are only so many leaders who are doing so.” (Modi, Putin, and Sheikh)
“Each of these leaders has their own style, some spread terror with their illogical orders, some use repressive laws as tactics,” he says. Among the new names on the list is Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has all the rights of the country concentrated and does not tolerate press freedom at all.
The RSF report said that the Saudi regime “uses all kinds of tactics including espionage, intimidation, prison, and murder.” In this report, the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been presented as an example. (Modi, Putin, and Sheikh)
India ranked 142
The list also includes Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who during the pandemic “made venomous speeches against journalists.” The lone European leader on the list is Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who describes himself as a champion of liberal democracy but has “relentlessly eroded media freedom and diversity” since coming to power in 2010.
Both women on this list are from Asian countries, the first being Carrie Lam, who is ruling Hong Kong under China’s orders, constantly “repressing the media.” Another name is Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has been Prime Minister since 2009, during her rule over 70 journalists and bloggers have been criminally prosecuted in the last three years.
The RSF annually releases the Press Freedom Index, which is considered an international measure of media freedom. In this index, India is ranked 142 out of 180 countries. India has been slipping down in this index continuously for the last four years, it has reached 136th in the year 2017, 138th in the year 2018, 140th in the year 2019, and 142nd last year.