New Delhi: India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the "worst offenders" in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at the 81st place. In 2016, India was in the 79th place among 176 countries.
The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. India's score in the latest ranking, however, remained unchanged at 40. In 2015, the score was 38.
Transparency International further said, "in some countries across the region (Asia Pacific), journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in the worst cases, even murdered".
"Philippines, India and the Maldives are among the worst regional offenders in this respect. These countries score high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths," it added.
In the last six years, 15 journalists working on corruption stories in these countries were murdered, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In the latest ranking New Zealand and Denmark were placed the highest, with scores of 89 and 88, respectively. On the other hand, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia were ranked lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9, respectively.
Meanwhile, China with a score of 41 was ranked 77th on the list, while Brazil was placed at 96th with a score of 37 and Russia was at the 135th place with a score of 29.
Further analysis of the results indicates that countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.
The analysis, which incorporates data from CPJ, showed that in the last six years, 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the index.
"No activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption. Given current crackdowns on both civil society and the media worldwide, we need to do more to protect those who speak up," Transparency International Managing Director Patricia Moreira said.