In the World Press Freedom Index, India drops eight places to 150th place.

According to a survey released on Tuesday by a worldwide media watchdog, India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has dropped to 150th place from 142nd last year out of 180 countries.

Except for Nepal, India’s neighbours have similarly slipped down the rankings, with Pakistan ranked 157th, Sri Lanka 146th, Bangladesh 162nd, and Myanmar 176th, according to a survey released by Reporters Without Borders.

According to the RSF 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Nepal has climbed 30 places to 76th place in the world. Last year, the Himalayan nation was ranked 106th in the survey, with Pakistan ranked 145th, Sri Lanka 127th, Bangladesh 152nd, and Myanmar 140th.

Norway (1st), Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Estonia (4th), and Finland (5th) took the top spots this year, while North Korea remained at the bottom of Reporters Without Borders’ list of 180 countries and territories.

Russia was ranked 155th, down from 150th last year, while China advanced two places to 175th, according to Reporters Without Borders. China was ranked 177th in the world last year.

“On World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders and nine other human rights organisations call on Indian authorities to stop targeting journalists and online critics for their work,” the international non-profit organisation said on its website.

“More specifically, they should stop prosecuting them under counterterrorism and sedition laws,” it added.

The Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) said the Indian authorities should respect the right to freedom of expression and release any journalists detained on trumped-up or politically motivated charges for their critical reporting and stop targeting them and muzzling independent media.

“The authorities’ targeting of journalists coupled with a broader crackdown on dissent has emboldened Hindu nationalists to threaten, harass and abuse journalists critical of the Indian government, both online and offline, with impunity,” it said.

“The authorities should also conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into allegations of threats and attacks targeting journalists and critics, including from government officials,” the RSF said, adding, “journalists should not have to risk their freedom and their lives to do their work.” About the global scenario, the RSF said the 20th World Press Freedom Index reveals a two-fold increase in “polarisation” amplified by information chaos, that is, media polarisation fuelling divisions within countries, as well as polarisation between countries at the international level.